December 1, 2002

Reviews of Brute Force performance at Scramarama, the two day rock and roll and film festival at the Palace Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, Saturday, November 3rd, 2002.


“Brute Force (celebrated in Scram #3 and again in this issue) was the most unlikely Scramarama performer, more so than even the Music Machine. Who would believe it would be possible to lure this mysterious sixties auteur out to California, or that when we did he would deliver a performance powerful enough to captivate every soul in attendance? I tracked down Stephen Friedland early in the planning stages of the fest, meeting with him and daughter Lilah in a NYC jazz bar. My pal Keith Bearden came along for moral support, because I was frankly intimidated and somewhat starstruck by Brute! He quickly put us at ease with his charming conversation, and demonstrated his people skills when a drunken East Indian joined our party and shared a lifetime of pain and resentment. Brute patiently drew this troubled person out, calmed his outbursts, and sent him on his way. A couple days later I met again with Brute and journalist Dawn Eden, and tentatively asked if he’d be interested in playing Scramarama. To my delight, he immediately agreed. While financial concerns and the events of September 11 inserted some snags in the works, this was one artist that I didn’t want to let get away. Special thanks go out to Andy Zax, for all his encouragement when it seemed least likely to fly. I knew it was all worth it from the moment Brute sat down at the electric piano and started playing those weird and wonderful songs. His performance, encompassing music, prop comedy and audience participation, was incredibly moving and hilarious. We didn’t want him to leave, and now we all want him to come back.
– by Kim Cooper, Scram Magazine


“But Scramarama was great for so many other reasons, like my first experience with Stephen Friedland, who performs solo under the name Brute Force. He was once on Apple Records, and had his Apple single, “King of Fuh” (reverse the words), banned. He played in and to the vacant spaces of the giant theater. I sat in the first balcony, by myself, spying on him. He played a small electric piano, these really lovely melodies with absurd lyrics, like “To Sit on a Sandwich,” which has this timeless, intense urgency and yet it really is literally about sitting on sandwiches. And the one about the world being full of so much bullshit, a song about cows, had this really appealing tumbling piano riff. Brute Force did comedy too, like inventing a new pep-rally cheer for downcast Hollywood . . . acting out sounds of various letters of the alphabet and props he played with . . . and then finally the simply beautiful, dainty ballad about the fuh king, such a pretty and emotional (and yes, silly) song no matter which level you take it on. Mr. Force was a wondrous revelation to me, and I was inspired and charmed by his multi-leveled, intelligent and loving approach to his performance. Plus he was hilarious. Plus his songs were glorious.”
– by Falling James, Entertainment writer, LA Times