Reunion shows often feel like watching some dive-bar cover band do its best to play another act's tunes, as bands strive to capture the way things "used to be." So when a big-reputation band fails to live up to past expectations, it can be a crushing disappointment for the fan.
Especially when a band has a reputation for tearing up venues. Like, say, Denton's own Brutal Juice. This weekend, fans in both Denton and Dallas will get the chance to experience the band's celebrated, raucous live show for the first time in more than two years.
After a gig on Thursday in Austin, Brutal Juice will perform Friday in Dallas at Club Dada, and then will return home to Denton on Saturday to headline the third annual Rock 'n' Roll BBQ at Dan's Silverleaf on a bill with The Boom Boom Box, Dead Twins, Spitfire Tumbleweeds and The Daily Beat.
After forming in '91, Brutal Juice called it quits in 1997, just two years after releasing Mutilation Makes Identification Difficult, the band's first and, turned out, last album, for Interscope Records.
"We broke up for the same reasons someone breaks up with their girlfriend," guitarist Ted Wood says. "We were just really sick of each other. Why else do you break up with someone? You just get sick of the whole usual grind of touring and everything, and then it just happens. It took a while. After time, we realized that we didn't actually hate each other."
Today, even with its semi-regular reunion show schedule, Brutal Juice remains officially "broken up."
"We play every one of these shows like it might be the last, and we have a blast," drummer Ben Burt says. "We always want to prove that a bunch of old farts can still kick some ass."
Sure enough, the more you talk with the guys in the band, the more you realize that the reunion shows are really just an excuse for them to get together and hang out.
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"We are all brothers, in a sense," Burt says, "and probably still to this day, we would kill for each other."
But how does Burt reconcile these feelings of brotherhood and family ties with the bleaker, almost-nihilistic themes the band explored on its albums?
"Brutal Juice is, in fact—and was—anti-Brutal Juice," Burt says. "The funny thing is that we weren't what people thought—yet we were more too. In some ways, we were probably not as fucked up as people thought, but in other ways we were more fucked up than people even knew."
A little confused? Well, you'll figure it out this weekend. More or less.