Cultish: Indie-Folk Bands–Bendigo Fletcher and The Brook & The Bluff

Ela Moss ’27 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Many people have a fascination with cults, wondering in bona fide disbelief about the whys and hows of a cult’s formation, and yet American culture actively participates in cultish behavior on the regular. It looks different today than it ever has before with the addition of social media; people religiously follow spirituality gurus, influencers, lifestyle aesthetics, and of course, big-name celebrities. What people refer to as “obsession” is often a kind of devotion that can be attributed to cult-like behavior.

I was reminded of this at The Brook & The Bluff concert at the Bowery Boston. To say the fans were die-hard would be an understatement. The rush of adrenaline when the band first stepped onstage was contagious and electric and didn’t subside until all band members stepped off an hour and a half later. You didn’t have to be a devout follower of the band to enjoy the show; I wasn’t even there for The Brook & The Bluff but for the opener, Bendigo Fletcher, my personal cultish preoccupation.

To use myself as an example, I’ve become a bit of a Bendigo groupie over the last year, seeing the small Kentucky band a total of 4 times since last October. Their blend of folk and indie-rock and iconic stage presence is what I can only describe as addictive.

Bendigo Fletcher has been on tour with The Brook & The Bluff since September, and the show they gave Boston on Sunday was sensational. They played for a total of 45 minutes–which was a tease–performing their most renowned, most dance-worthy songs. The frontman, Ryan Anderson, captivated the crowd as always with incredibly impressive high notes and belts in “Broken Routine” and “Evergreen” and said hello and goodbye to the crowd with two of their more touching, lovingly voiced: “Soul Factory” and “Wonderfully Bizarre.” Bendigo Fletcher doubtlessly made an impact and pulled some new listeners in the Bowery, but it was clear who the rest of the crowd was there for. I still feel deafened by their screams.

Bendigo Fletcher at The Bowery; photo by Ela Moss

The Brook & The Bluff is a band of five from Alabama, best known for their top hit “Halfway Up”. Their music uniquely blends indie folk and rock with a pop-like feel that makes you unable to quit moving your feet. Frontman Joseph Settine announced during the show that the band played in Boston last October, opening for Mt. Joy. Now, the packed house was there just for them.

This crowd embodied cult-like attention, and the band thrived on it. The screams were all-encompassing, coming for my eardrums at every angle with an intensity I genuinely have never experienced at a concert before. The energy of these general admission attendees was that of what I can only imagine is the equivalent of the pit at Harry Styles.

The Brook & The Bluff at The Bowery; photo by Ela Moss

The room was alive; the voices of the fiercely devoted fans echoed as cultish chants, and the dancing quite literally became synchronous as the band directed us in a dance back and forth. As for Joseph Settine himself, I can only describe as Matty Healy meets Indie folk. His smooth yet goofy dance moves were a highlight, as he effectively demonstrated he knows how to move his hips in ways I didn’t know an indie-folk concert was going to take us to.

Alec Bolton, the lead guitarist, expressed equal devotion to the fans as they did to him, selling it brilliantly with an electrifying solo. It was inspiring to watch his confidence and smile, and his flare with the guitar grow throughout the night. Fred Lankford shredded on bass in every song alongside Settine and Bolton, John Canada carried the band through the night with his lively drum beats, and Kevin Canada brought a truly unique sound to the scene on keyboard. The band came together in a way that only close friends could, transposing their love for each other and their fans through the music.

Although it was interesting to note the similarities of this concert with that of cultish experiences, of course, The Brook & The Bluff are not cult leaders and in fact just a really good up-and-coming band. And although Bendigo Fletcher did not elicit the same reaction from the Boston crowd, I stand as proof of their equally bewitching charm.

It’s not uncommon for groups to form intense followings, as is very clear with superstars like the aforementioned Harry Styles, but what is more significant is the devotion to indie-folk rock and artists that haven’t fully broken out into the mainstream. Cults and cultish behavior bear a negative connotation and are widely presumed as unhealthy, but so-called cultish behavior can also become monumental moments shared with a community of like-minded strangers. Fortunately, the cultish behavior that enveloped the Bowery for The Brook & The Bluff was undeniably just appropriately allotted dedication to a band of talented indie-folk rock artists.

Go give them a listen on Spotify; you might find yourself dancing and screaming with the rest of us at their next show.

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