Photos by The Classic Penguin

Dusty Brown w/ DJ Whores
Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009
The Press Club, Sacramento

Do you ever wonder if the musicians you love really understand how talented they are? Music is a powerful thing that has the ability to move and change us; it can conjure the good or the evil that resides deep within our souls. If these musicians that we wonder about really knew the power they possessed, I’d like to think that they would always choose to use it for good.

Call me naïve, but when I witness a performance like that of Dusty Brown, Sacramento’s shining gene pool of electronica soundscapes, it fills me with feelings of hope and unrestricted love. Their latest Club Pow performance at The Press Club is a testament to their musical abilities.

Dusty Brown are veterans of the Sacramento music scene with a half-dozen Sammies under their belt as well as a Hall of Fame induction after winning the award too many times. I’ve been there for a good portion of that ride, so I’ve seen all the tricks and heard all the songs and own all the CDs. Normally, Jessica Brown’s vocals break my heart into a million tiny pieces that are then reassembled by Dusty’s intricate drum programming and ethereal Moog keyboard lines. I am swooned; and when I think I can sink no deeper into the melody that engulfs me, along comes Zac Brown, who patiently places his affected guitar riffs in all the right cracks and crevices that the song might allow. They have a power over the audience—hypnotizing each and every one of us with our bobbing heads and glazed eyes.

However, tonight will be a little different. Tonight, Jess Gowrie, the drummer from the now-defunct rock group Red Host, will be playing for a few songs and Dusty informs me that he will even hop on the bass for a track. Dusty Brown unplugged? Er”¦kinda.


Across the dance floor, DJ Whores is perched above the crowd, which he is sizing up methodically, waiting to drop the needle and send us all into motion. The Press Club’s stage sucks you in and makes you part of the performance whether you have the courage or not. It’s an intimate setting that feels comfortably snug rather than claustrophobic. DJ Whores’ distinct style of dance floor bangers is the product of hard work—the work of digging for just the right song. His electro selection introduces everyone’s ears to abrasive bass lines that move back and forth along the kick and snare. He prepares us.

Dusty Brown’s set begins with a few crowd favorites that have the girls feeling giddy; the hoodies that have assembled in the front are moving back and forth like Apache rain dancers. I see Jess appear to my left. She gazes at the stage that will soon be hers. Jessica Brown rewards my patience with a fuzzy comment into the microphone, saying something to the effect of, “I think it’s time for Jess.” The song begins without Gowrie as she approaches her low-seated Rocket Shell drum set—readying herself—then yields to her quickly climaxing drum build. She explodes into the chorus of the song and turns an electronica track into a heavy, Moog-flavored rock song. She can’t be denied now. Gowrie powers through two songs with the rest of the band that are crash- and snare-heavy. She finishes the songs and returns to the bar where she paces back and forth, breathing heavily and making no eye contact. I take a deep breath too, exhausted by the powers of good music.