In March of 2018, The Teskey Brothers performed for about two dozen people at the Echo in Los Angeles. Part of a multi-band bill, the quartet was a relatively unknown entity. They ended their 45-minute set that night with “Honeymoon,” the extended blues that closes their terrific album, Half Mile Harvest.
Just over a year later, the Teskeys were back in Southern California, headlining The Troubadour, and selling out the famed West Hollywood club. It’s a rapid rise for the Australian R&B band, on a U.S. tour of clubs and festivals before heading to Europe, and one that precedes the August release of Run Home Slow. For this hour-plus appearance, the foursome split the repertoire between a host of now-favorites from Half Mile and previews of their newest.
In a symbolic bookend to that Echo date, the Teskeys, led by singer-guitarist Josh Teskey and guitarist Sam Teskey, opened the evening with “Honeymoon,” building the tension of the first half’s lament before exploding into a guitar-driven, double-time jam. Fueled by drummer Liam Gough, and buttressed by the bass playing of Nashville ace Kevin Black (Margo Price), the four expanded to six with the addition of a two-piece horn section of trombone and trumpet for a fuller, richer attack. They followed the lengthy starter with the heart crushing “Crying Shame,” as Josh’s voice of dusky remorse crackled through the rafters.
Two more Half Mile tracks- “Say You’ll Do” and “I Get Up”- came next, each met with cheers of recognition from the crowd. Josh repeatedly thanked them for coming out, seeming almost stunned at the capacity mass crammed into the revered venue, as he introduced Black as playing with them for the first time, subbing in on the road for founding bassist Brendon Love. They debuted “Rain,” due on the forthcoming new album, then shifted back to their classic soul-soaked gem, “Pain and Misery.”
After a pair of sharply dressed new numbers- “So Caught Up” and “Man of the Universe”- the six loosened with the clap-along stomp of “Louisa,” with Josh wailing away on harmonica. A funky closer came next on “Right For Me,” with the band ducking upstairs after for a brief few moments, and drawn back onstage for an encore. Yet only the Teskey siblings and Gough returned. It was the trio’s turn to clap and stomp, setting the beat for an a capella rendering of “Hold Me” that moved the three off the stage and into the middle of the audience, swarmed by cell phones filming and fans singing along. The contrast of this finale, with the three surrounded by pure adoration, to last year’s Echo show was impossible to ignore. In just 14 months, The Teskey Brothers had gone from the hard hustle of a Monday night in front of a few dozen to a full house at one of the most revered music spots on the map. It was earned, deserved, and, with a much-anticipated follow-up album on the way, perhaps just the beginning 1