It is a Summer Hump Day and you have nothing to do. Your co-worker suggests a show and you aren’t sure if you really want to go out on a Wednesday evening – you’re wiped after working like a dog just to keep the lights on and mid-week you’re already burning the end of the oil from your last paycheck. But let this be known: if it is suggested you go and see The Burlies and you instead decide to spend your night watching “Backdraft” with a TV Dinner, you will regret it by the first commercial break. Baltimore-bred and Brooklyn-based author David Leigh Abts and New York City-based writer Sarah Shanok bring you the following show review.

The Burlies Play Glasslands Gallery

After a hot summer night’s trek down to the Williamsburg waterfront, Trail of Tears-style, you truly wonder whether your oxen are going to hold up for the rest of the evening. However, you are pleased to discover that your destination, The Glasslands Gallery, is a red-hued loft space in a former warehouse, illuminated by twinkling white stalactite tube lights. The air conditioning is blasting, a welcomed relief, and a Death Star-sized disco ball sways overhead. You exhale gratefully, thinking to yourself that the walk was already well worth it and that the evening as a whole is off to a most promising start.

Wild White is the first act to take the stage, playing a set equivalent to watching your IT department jam out, and they are rad! The band lifts your spirits as they emanate a rounded and edgy sound — sort-of like an intellectual, modern-day Jesus Jones. In the game of rhythm these musicians are first class. Their set is punctuated by off the charts witty banter between the guitarist and bassist, humoring the collection of young couples wearing matching yoga pants in the audience.

The Burlies Play Glasslands Gallery

The stand-up bass reigns supreme during the second band, Black River Manifesto, a trio with undertones of 1960s surf rock fused with early 1990’s Soundgarden. These guys make you want to break out your old Powell Peralta rig. Their toe-tapping songs inspire the steadily growing crowd, which by now is peppered with city-bred scene stealers taking their dancing shoes to the floor.

But it is the headliners, The Burlies, that may be the freshest collection of rock veterans on the Brooklyn scene. Frontman Travis Morrison of The Dismemberment Plan brings a caliber of energy to the stage that makes the audience feel like they are enjoying the largest small band in New York City. Drummer David Brown, bassist Drew Butler and guitarist Eric Farr round out this Perfect Storm of gut-pleasing rock and roll that manages to touch even deeper than you could have expected. The twists and turns of tracks like “The Ocean” and “Ghost Town,” the latter of which is dedicated to a fallen comrade, are navigated flawlessly. The band is so on point that each song feels like it is dedicated to a different audience member, a customized sentimental shout-out to that special someone in the crowd. This is indeed a rare sensation to secure. We look to our right and our left, and with each song listeners seem to be getting wetter than a thrill rider on Splash Mountain. And we’re not exempt.

Check out The Burlies music and tour information here.

This review is brought to you by the Team Mother’s Day at the Orphanage. Visit

Photos by Elizabeth A. Abts.

  • McCaffrey

    Oddly enough I was thinking of watching Backdraft tonight, after reading this though maybe I’ll go check out the Burlies at the Mercury Lounge

  • larry

    This review is killer. No one does metaphors like this guy.

  • Priest

    Wow! This is one of the better written reviews that I have read a bit , I am huge dismemberment plan.

  • Big b

    My trail of tears turns into the road to happiness after reading this review. This author rocks!

  • da buda

    Yes! Jesus Jones, Soundgarden and Splash Mountain all in one Burlies show review. I’d expect nothing less from DLA and team. Keep the reviews coming!

    • BigDLA

      Everyone Loves Jesus Jones, if you don’t, you are not American.

  • thereinagarden

    “playing a set equivalent to watching your IT department jam out” – HA!

  • Earl of Baltimore

    Outstanding review! you guys always crack me up.

  • dutch muffin

    totally been meaning to check these guys out. thx for the rad review.

  • Horgan, Kelly

    Totally need to check out The Bluries! thanks!

    • BigDLA

      Thanks!! Check in out their website from time to time, I am sure at some point they will play Philly.

  • Jenn L.

    Great article! I totally want to check out The Burlies!

  • BigDLA

    Thank you stormtroopers of the WhatWeekly universe for checking out this show review! It was a really fun show and I recommend you checking them out when they play near you.

  • WG

    Love these reviews, keep ‘em coming!

  • E.R. Roberts

    The tag team couple (or maybe siblings?) of David Leigh & Liz Abts made for another excellent show review. Personally, I could give two shits about The Burlies’ music, but was completely entrenched in the enchantment of the words and images provided by the Abts duo. This was a great performance review. I hope that What Weekly has this pair covering more concerts in the future. There’s something special happening here.

  • JS

    Gah, I still haven’t seen “the largest small band in New York City” (perfect description) play a live show yet, but definitely catching them next time they’re in town. Great review!

    • BigDLA

      You will really dig The Burlies, keep an eye on their website for show info.

  • Clarence Rorschach

    i tried to get in but couldn’t :( I really wanted to b there wth my friend dave but it dint work out agin. llove this band tho. i have a homemade cassette of em and it works everytime to bring me out of the darkness of my own mind LOL :)

  • Rayray