Ray LaMontagne and Jenny Lewis - Fillmore Miami Beach

Ray LaMontagne and Jenny Lewis

With Belle Brigade

Fillmore Miami Beach

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Better Than: A night with any of these great acts alone.

On any other evening, the sweet strains of Belle Brigade's sibling tandem, Barbara and Ethan Gruska, would've been show enough.

But over the weekend, the Magic City's fans of pretty and thoughtful tunes were blessed with a triple bill. And the Gruskas were merely the openers for Ray LaMontagne and Jenny Lewis.

See also: Ray LaMontagne Talks Supernova: "I Can Trust My Gut at This Point"

Given the Belle Brigade's pop punch and pizzazz, it was already hard to imagine how the headliners could give the Gruskas much of a run for their money.

Yet, there they were, opening the show at the Fillmore Miami Beach. And already, the crowd was swooning with delight, many no doubt wishing that they could carry on well beyond their scant 25-minute stint.

Ernest and enthusiastic, drummer Barbara Gruska plays her traps with a casual sense of abandon, steadfastly keeping the perky rhythms aloft while looking like a kid taking a first whack at being the band's backbone. She even managed a concise drum solo.

But it was her interplay with her brother Ethan, the band's winsome guitarist, singer and front man that brought comparisons to a sturdier White Stripes or a less stodgy Black Keys, courtesy of the guitar/drums duality.

Hence the uncertainty. Clearly, the freshness and spontaneity borne by the Belle Brigade brought some concern as to the ability of Jenny Lewis to hold her own.

Although she's no slacker either when it comes to fresh-faced pop persuasion -- her tenure in Rilo Kiley providing all the proof necessary -- her recent preoccupation with songs of circumspect and romantic woes did give cause to think she might falter by comparison. Now liberated from the Rilos for the first time, one might wonder if she was going to attempt to remake herself as some sort of chanteuse.

See also: Jenny Lewis: "I'm Single and Ready to Mingle"

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Lee Zimmerman

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