On Saturday night (April 1), Robert Perlick-Molinari was exactly where he was supposed to be inside of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Following a rare Nets victory, he was onstage at the Billboard Lounge, fronting the disco-funk outfit French Horn Rebellion alongside his brother David. For a second, though, it seemed like Robert had gotten lost on his way to the Nets locker room.
“Sometimes, wins don’t come that frequently, but when they do, they’re well earned,” Robert told the audience midway through the band’s set, sounding like a coach giving a motivational speech. To illustrate his point, he talked about how he’d formed a dance band that features French horn, adding, “You’re not supposed to do that.”
With that, French Horn Rebellion launched into “Day by Day,” a glistening slab of ‘80s synth-funk modernized by chopped-up tropical-house vocal effects. It’s a song designed to bring smiles, and if any Nets players happened to hear snippets echoing through the Barclays, they might’ve felt better about having the worst record in the NBA.
French Horn Rebellion’s performance was the last in a series of Billboard Lounge post-game concerts that’s spanned the 2016-17 NBA and NHL seasons. A variety of artists have taken the stage since November, and while many have been fantastic, French Horn Rebellion were the right choice for the finale. Their electro-funk would’ve eased the pain of an L just as easily as it punctuated Saturday’s win.
Born in Wisconsin and based in Brooklyn, the Perlick-Molinari brothers don’t take themselves too seriously. Robert — the Hall to David’s Oates, follically speaking — really does drop French horn into his songs, using it like other goofball retro-funksters would cheesy sax. It worked well on “Swing Into It,” where Robert hopped onto one of the club’s sofas for his solo.
On the rubbery thumper “Life Choices,” he posed the question, “What you gonna do with your life tonight?” The answer, of course, was dance, which is why he and his brother staged a “Beat It”-style dance-off — one side of the band versus the other — on “Marching Punks.” A few audience members joined the groove war and flailed like something really was at stake.
French Horn Rebellion returned to the theme of losers becoming heroes with its cover of Weezer’s “Buddy Holly,” then brought the night to a close with a banger, “Love Is Dangerous.” The warning in the chorus might’ve been lost on the small pack of fans jumping up and down in front of the stage, but that’s OK. Robert would probably advise people to take their chances.