Live Review: DeVotchKa @Subterranean 7/21/06
There are few bands who are truly deserving of the hype that they receive, but DeVotchKa is definitely one of those bands. Dubbed by Filter as "the best band in America you never heard of", DeVotchKa delighted the sold out crowd at the Subterranean with it's unique hodge-podge of sound. After enduring a tediously boring set by Now It's Overhead, one of the opening acts that sound like a bad Placebo rip-off, Jeannie Schroder, with her upright bass and Tom Hagerman with fiddle in hand, took the stage softly strumming an instrumental opening. Shawn King and Nick Urata blared their trumpets from the balcony like heralding angels in a roaming mariachi band, surprising us on the mainfloor. The rambunctious crowd howled, stomped, clapped, and cheered, as this party was underway. With the whole band together on the quaint stage, they rumbled through their set, which included mostly songs off their 2004 release How It Ends as well as their recent Curse Your Little Heart EP. Nick Urata, armed with a Grecian guitar, an acoustic, a theremin, two microphones, a bottle of red wine, and a voice that sounds impeccable live (with it's innate bittersweet melancholy) crooned his heart out. DeVotchKa's sound is an amalgamation of influences, from the mariachi oompa bass and trumpet calls on We're Leaving, to the wandering gypsy whirling dervish on Such a Lovely Thing fueled by a skittish accordion, to the disparate, sorrow indie rock akin to The Dears on How It Ends, they definitely have cultivated a fertile musical garden. Despite some noticeable audio issues: with feedback and lack of effects on the violin for the first half of the set, the majority of the crowd seemed unfazed by these minor imperfections, and lauded the musicians with chant-a-longs and crazed dancing that shook the Subterranean's floor. Urata thanked the crowd with a swig of his wine after each song, and a well deserved encore. Seeing DeVotchKa live, really makes you appreciate these fine musicians much more than merely listening to their CD. It won't surprise me at all, if next time they swing through Chicago, they will be headlining the Metro or Riviera.