Popular Philly group returns to Rathskeller

Brian Williams, The Blue Method’s live-wire lead singer, has a voice that refuses to be ignored. On Sept. 18, every time the audience at the Rathskeller settled comfortably into his band’s blend of ’70s funk and up-tempo R&B, Williams grabbed the microphone like a man on a mission, his booming voice pouncing on every word until the crowd was just as enthralled by the music as he was. “Turn it up!” he shouted, beads of sweat pouring down toward the big smile on his face.

The Blue Method was practically giddy at its show this week at the College, pounding out old-school soul music with fat bass riffs and saxophone solos. The five members of the band seemed loose and relaxed on stage, and frequently extended songs into full-out jam sessions.

“When you do 150 shows a year with the same four guys, you get comfortable,” guitarist Mike Patriarca said. “We’re song-oriented. We’re not a ‘jam band,’ but we try to have some surprises in our shows.”

The band members, who hail from the Philadelphia/South Jersey area, have been extensively touring the northeast in support of their new album, “Kill The Music Vol. 2.” They’ve been playing at blues festivals, beer festivals, clubs, bars and other colleges such as Pennsylvania State University and Vassar College. The guys admitted to being fairly run-down from constantly going out on the road.

“By the end of the weekend, we’re usually on fumes,” Patriarca said.

The wear-and-tear could not be seen when The Blue Method came to the stage, however, as the band energetically blew through multiple sets of original material and a handful of covers. Williams, whose lyrics focused on individuality, overcoming struggles and staying positive, had a deeply powerful voice and the stage presence to match it. He was captivating the entire night, whether he was belting out notes, commanding the rest of the band or squealing on his trumpet or trombone for a few instrumental breakdowns.

Thankfully, he never overshadowed his counterparts, as Patriarca and Tom Long playfully traded guitar riffs, Theron Shelton provided a solid percussion section and Rah Sungee held the bass with a delightful swagger.

Long was also given the spotlight numerous times on saxophone, his solos bursting through the layers of funk music and impressing the audience. The band focused on its crowd-pleasing numbers in which the tempo would gradually build into a frenzy, until suddenly dropping out so Williams could pick it back up with a sing-along chorus. The music exploded behind Williams and he met the applause appreciatively when it died back down.

“We like to see people being energetic and moving at our concerts,” Patriarca said. “When they’re doing that, it’s gonna radiate right back onto us.”

The Blue Method is scheduled to continue touring over the next few months and is currently in the process of writing new tunes. “We push ourselves to write new songs,” Sungee said. “We try to write hooks; sometimes we’ll start with a bass line and go from there. But we’re always trying to write.”

It is uncertain when the band will be back at the College, but one thing is for certain: the audience at the Rathskeller won’t be forgetting Williams – or his voice – anytime soon.