Okay, so rushing from a show across town last night (Fred Hersch Trio at Scullers), I get to the Sinclair a good hour into the set by the REBIRTH BRASS BAND. What I see is everything I had expected, and in a good way: the crowd packed and dancing, the band and the crowd screaming together. What had I missed? Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin’,” Professor Longhair’s “Big Chief,” the Ellington band’s “Caravan.” But I still catch plenty of action. I’m thinking the ensemble sounds a little ragged on the unison horn lines — well-schooled precision is part of what packs a punch in New Orleans brass band performances. But then my fears are allayed, as the trumpets take off in fierce, hocketing syncopations. Brass bands are built for marching, so the stage looks fairly bare for this venerable nine-piece: two trombones, three trumpets, a tenor sax, and a backline of bass drum, snare, and sousaphone. The only concession to the fixed stage set-up is a single cymbal on a stand, which the snare player reaches out and smashes every once in a while.
The show climaxes with a huge sing-along to Rebirth’s positively filthy rendition of LeVert’s 1987 hit single “Casanova” (there’s a lot of bending over involved). The crowd’s enthusiasm for the “Who dat!” chant in the middle of the “When the Saints Go Marching In” encore seems a bit disingenuous here in the heart of Patriots country, but then I find out that the guy behind me screaming the loudest is from Louisiana. Well, okay then. He also tells me that “Casanova” is the unofficial post-game anthem at the Superdome these days. Every filthy word of it.