The Blood Brothers blow up punk -- again -- at FYF Fest

Blood Brothers
The Blood Brothers: Mark Gajadhar, from left, Jordan Blilie, Cody Votolato, Johnny Whitney and Morgan Henderson.
(Robin Laananen)

For a certain swath of misfit millennial music fans, the Blood Brothers was a formative act.

Founded in 1997, the Seattle punk quintet became famous for its dual lead singers (who had a rapport that made already angry songs look like actual arguments) and a sound that veered from surf-rock riffs to arty keyboards and pure circle-pitting violence.

The band’s lyrics – song titles include “Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck” and “Set Fire to the Face on Fire” – were self-aware and darkly hilarious, and the sassy live shows seemed to taunt their fans as much as rile them up. When the band broke up in 2007, punk lost one of its most adventurous and charismatic acts.

But over the last decade, the group’s teenage fans grew up. Now that music fans are used to fluid boundaries between genres, those former misanthropic kids heard their albums with fresh ears – and they still sounded invigorating.


When the group reunites onstage Sunday at FYF Fest, it’ll be a validation that the band’s ideas about aggressive music were right all along.

“I forgot how physically exhausting these songs were to play,” said Jordan Blilie, the band’s co-lead singer. “I haven’t screamed like this in years, but it’s been super fun to play and have that physical aspect back. The room where we’ve been practicing is so hot it’s like a Bikram yoga studio, so it’s been good preparation.”

The group’s members had stayed in music, playing in acts that included the popular folk band Fleet Foxes and indie rock groups Jaguar Love and Past Lives. The L.A. label Epitaph Records re-issued most of Blood Brothers’ albums in 2009.

But a recent, resurgent interest in the hardcore of the late ‘90s has neatly dovetailed with Blood Brothers fans  -- like FYF’s Sean Carlson -- climbing in the music industry, and giving their teenage tastes a second look.


“I had been trying to get them for two and half years,” Carlson said. “I’m so, so happy that they’re doing this at FYF.”

Unfamiliar FYF fans might be surprised how contemporary the group sounds. It’s one of the few bands that old Dischord Records heads and a teenage generation reared on dubstep could probably agree on. Albums like 2003’s “Burn Piano Island, Burn!” and 2004’s “Crimes” are a mix of radically new noise, subversive genre experiments and old-fashioned showmanship that would sound entirely progressive if they came out today.

Don’t expect the reunion to last, though. Blilie affirmed that after this small run of shows ends in November, the ride is over. “This is very, very temporary. We live in three different cities, and we all have careers and families and other bands. This was our one chance to do this and we don’t want to wear out our welcome.”

Blilie lives in L.A., and is currently in college pursuing a long-delayed English degree (he dropped out at 19 to do Blood Brothers full-time). But being placed atop the bill at one of his new city’s biggest festivals is the best reminder yet that Blilie’s band - and those early-aughts packs of sneering teenagers – were right all along.

“We all missed one another, and we had this small window of opportunity,“  Blilie said. “You’d be surprised how quickly the muscle memory comes back to you.”

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