Find your own fun

Brother and Sister invite their fans to experience life played for keeps

On March 4, the local band Brother and Sister was abducted by the evil head master wench. One hundred secret agents were assigned to the case. Their mission was to rescue Brother and Sister and locate the band’s release show.

Anyone who knows the work of Michael Gaughan – whether from his artwork at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, his rapping in Ice-Rod or his current project with his sister Katie – agrees it is brilliant.

Tales of Gaughan’s MC Ice-Rod shows have become immediate legends in the local music scene. There’s the time he brushed his teeth on stage and proceeded to chug orange juice. Or the time he handed out paper and rapped instructions on how to make paper airplanes.

“Not all rock ‘n’ roll has creative lyrics,” Gaughan said on his move from microphone to guitar. “There’s more creative lyrics in rap, but it’s like, so what?”

The legends of Ice-Rod, however, might have been surpassed earlier this month with Brother and Sister’s release show. The treasure-huntlike show surpassed already high expectations.

Katie Gaughan, a sophomore at the University, said, “It’s like Hansel and Gretel: You have to follow our clues.”

Finding each clue was the thrilling part of the adventure. The clues led each team of secret agents around Minneapolis, beginning in Dinkytown and ending downtown. The path was not simply marked with clear indicators; the fun part was the creativity that went into each clue.

Throughout the hunt, the agents followed such clues as an “I Saw You” ad in the City Pages and a folded cover of The Wake that spelled out “Spoke,” which lead to the next clue at Spokes Pizza. Other clues were in a van outside the Triple Rock Social Club with a fake Brother and Sister playing in back and a hotel room complete with a dude lounging in boxers. For the trickier clues, or just directions, a special help line was set up.

The most impressive part of the hunt was the elaborate planning involved.

Finally, after 1 1/2 to two hours running from clue to clue all over Minneapolis, the evil wench was captured and both Brother and Sister were found. The hunt concluded at the Downtown YWCA, in the pool. It was a pool party!

While Brother and Sister rocked out – the tiled room giving them an even bigger arena rock sound – the agents relaxed in the hot tub or jumped into the pool.

Though the release was by far the most extravagant Brother and Sister show, the concerts are never typical. Even without the scavenger hunt, the band’s shows always include some spectacular element.

The sibling duo began, Katie Gaughan said, by choreographing an interpretive dance to Will Smith’s “Miami.” Since then, the band has always emphasized the visual element of its music.

“We’re more about the performance,” Katie Gaughan said. She said the Motley Crue DVD in which Tommy Lee plays drums in a bubble that moves around the crowd is an influence.

Brother and Sister began to play together when Katie Gaughan was in high school, in Ringwood, Ill., and Michael Gaughan was in college at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Now, both live in Minneapolis, where they can devote more energy to the band.

During the last year or so, the duo has played some of the most exuberant shows in the Twin Cities, filled with conga lines, freeze-dance games and chant-along lyrics.

“We played a show where Michael was in a harness and played the whole show upside down. People would push him back and forth,” Katie Gaughan said.

Michael Gaughan added, “I thought it would be like Peter Pan, but it was more like a pinata.”

In another famous stunt, the band made guitars out of hard candy (such as Jolly Ranchers) and vegan Rice Krispies. Both the audience and band members were able to eat the instruments during the concert.

In the works, Michael Gaughan received a Jerome Grant to make what he calls a “hellicaster” – a combination of a model helicopter and a telecaster guitar. He said he hopes to create a flying guitar.

It’s easy to concentrate on all the crazy performances of Brother and Sister, but the music should certainly not be denied. The songs all contain a goofy and playful quality. One track in particular has the siblings yelling repeatedly, cheerleader style, “B-E-S-T-S-I-S-T-E-R-E-V-E-R!”

“Nothing is just truly a joke, though,” Katie Gaughan said. ” ‘Give it to the Dogs’ is about consumption.”

Michael Gaughan added, “We sing about any topic but not about relationships or sex.”

After the success of the rescue show, Brother and Sister said, they hope to throw another scavenger-type event, possibly in the summer.

“We’re not being very economical, but those are usually the most fun shows,” Michael Gaughan said.

Katie Gaughan said, “We think of it as throwing a big party.”