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Friday, August 13, 2010

The Devil Makes Three at the Independent

Posted By on Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 8:26 AM

  • Quinn DeVeaux and the Blue Beat Review
Santa Cruz's The Devil Makes Three, a trio consisting of two guitars and standup bass, plays a refreshingly contemporary, riotous, and punk-tinged amalgamation of folk, country, and ragtime. While their sound may be partially derived from dated genres often wrongly associated with tame performances and crowds, The Devil Makes Three are known for raucous live shows rife with debauchery and movement. Luckily for avid fans that didn't want to deal with ticket prices or hordes to catch the band Outside Lands this weekend, the Devil Makes Three added a last minute show at The Independent last night.

  • Quinn DeVeaux and the Blue Beat Review
Arriving at about 9 o'clock, I sorted my way through the outside crowd of drugrug-shrouded scalpers and starving pitbull-accompanied clichés just in time for openers Quinn DeVeaux and the Blue Beat Review. The Oakland-based septet broke into a phenomenal first song with themes about love and 45 rpm 7-inches. If you're singing about sex appeal and record bins, I'm in. Meshing Motown-era soul, New Orleans blues, and a pinch of gospel, the band easily won over the crowd. Well-dressed and technically proficient, Quinn guided his band, which included three beautiful, harmonizing backup singers, and a flawless rhythm section, through a set that harkened with striking authenticity to a time and geographic location far from here.

After a brief and humble setup (which saw most band members on stage with minimal aid), The Devil Makes Three took the stage. As the band opened with "For Good Again," the crowd erupted into cheers. The narrative of the song set the pace. Well-told stories, especially when non-fictional, about partying, woes, and tumultuous love almost always please. The guitars and giant upright bass rolled on, played with exceptional precision. The chemistry of guitarist-frontman Pete Bernhard, guitarist Cooper McBean, and bassist Lucia Turino's was undeniable. This band was playing revival folk before the revival happened, and live, it's evident.

As the set progressed, the band moved into further stories of friends, failure, and excess coupled with covers including Mississippi John Hurt's "Nobody's Dirty Business." Pete and Cooper frequently switched from guitar to banjo, but without awkward lapses. The more the songs leaned towards booze and its troubles the more the audience seemed to want to repeat the band's mistakes. Midway through, Cooper took over vocals on a cover of Roger Miller's "Uncle Harvey's Plane." Proving he has a voice as earnest and moving as Bernhard's, he moved the crowd into complete dismissal of inhibition.

And on it went -- an old sound redesigned for new ears. Never boring and without yawns -- bassist Lucia sang without accompaniment to roars from the crowd, strings plucked and popped in melodic unison as times gone by seemed to fuse easily into new ones. The band closed with "Bangor Mash," earning a mass crowd sing-a-long. The modest one-song callback was well received. Sans posing or pretension, "Help Yourself" was played as the final appeaser and I stumbled out, contemplating my life's past monumentally poor decisions and how they could be turned into future bits of grace.

Quinn DeVeaux's backup singers
  • Quinn DeVeaux's backup singers
Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: The band's reputation in terms of down-to-earth personalities and sheer dedication provides plenty of appeal.

The crowd: Older and more bro-filled than I expected.

Random notebook dump: My girlfriend was incredibly jealous of Quinn's backup singers. She really wants in.

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Brian Moss


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