Crobot Acoustic Duo Rocks The Top Dog

By: Ryan Weiss

SAINT CLAIR, PA 6/2/17 >:  So, I made the trek to Saint Clair, PA. I landed at the Top Dog Bar and Grill to see “Brandon and Friends” from international recording artists, Crobot. As the owner of Pro Hobo Comics, Brandon recently released their debut feature, “Legend of the Spaceborne Killer.”
The journey to Saint Clair took me through a couple different counties and towns, specifically on PA Route 61. Driving through Port Clinton, PA, I was launched back in time. It was frozen. Steel, beer, homemade burgers, open decks. The drive was scenic, relaxing, and eye opening. As I traveled, I wasn’t sure what to expect around each curve. Open land? Small town row houses? Farm? Family restaurant?

As I pulled into Saint Clair, I was, again, thrown back to a simpler time. I parked my car on a side street behind the Top Dog as the evening crowd was gearing up in front. As I exited my vehicle, an elderly gentleman with, what appeared to be a private garage/auto body shop with some sort of dune buggy/ATV hybrid in it greeted me with a friendly, “Hello!” He’s never seen me before, likewise on my end, yet he offered immediate kindness.

I finally ended up inside the Top Dog Bar and Grill. Classic horseshoe bar packed on all sides with the bartender running and filling orders. I immediately smelled the Lager and cigarette smoke. Soothing, I felt at home. The chatter of friends seeing each other after a long day pepper the air. This is a Pennsylvania home town! I was greeting by Sharon, a local organizer of the Pottsville PA Band Network, who religiously supports local talent (as we all should). In the background, I hear an argument about pool strategy and who needs to work on their shot and so on. I found myself sitting by the front door, next to a small video slot machine waiting for the music to begin, as Brandon and Bishop are greeted by friends as they filter through the door.

I’ve seen Crobot in the past in a large venue among throngs of people and speakers piercing my eardrums. I’ve read reviews about Crobot, Brandon’s voice, Bishops guitar licks, and fans going berserk professing their love for this electric-energy laden rock band. Right now, they are Brandon and Bishop, home town boys in their element, connecting to their roots, and Steve.

The Top Dog is full of the same familiar faces as I’ve seen in bars across the state. They are in the same places, with the same drinks, same smokes and same subject matter. Home. The Top Dog is popping with chatter. A familiar chatter I’ve heard before. It’s all oddly comforting. The Great American watering hole is not dead; it’s fully alive and breathing. I reflect on the Great American small town today. On the big box surface of the internet and immediate streaming web services, it may seem crushed. Brandon and Bishop launch into “Beast of Burden” by The Rolling Stones. I let the seeming weight of my everyday sift through my mind. All these great things around us should never be our burden to carry. Residents in towns across America should not shy away from each other, but come together and celebrate uniqueness and back each other up.

Stripped down, the power house melodic half of Crobot is just as powerful as electric. The same amount of soul is put into Bishops licks as are on the full-length albums. The same gusto is in Brandon’s voice. As the beer continues to flow, the crowd sinks into the groove. We are all here, we are blue collar, we need comfort; something to save us from the depth. Brandon’s voice is speaking directly to the crowd in the form of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “I Need You.” This is the savior of small town America.


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