Concert review: Seattle cult band Murder City Devils reunited at the Showbox at the Market for an energetic hourlong set before an adoring crowd, with openers Past Lives; the concert repeats at the Showbox on Feb. 12.
Concert Review |
No pompoms and touchdowns, no letterman jackets and class rings; yes fist-pumping and slam-dancing, yes dreadlocks and Mohawks. Wednesday night’s Murder City Devils reunion at the Showbox at the Market was Rock ‘n’ Roll Homecoming for indie-nee-alt Seattleites of a certain vintage.
The cult-hero sextet appeared onstage for the first time since 2006’s Capitol Hill Block Party, which was the first time they’d appeared onstage since disbanding at their peak on Halloween 2001. The sold-out show was the first of nine mostly sold-out shows down the West Coast. It swelled with explosive energy and a genuine hometown pride unrepeatable outside the band’s birthplace.
MCD’s hourlong set spanned their three Sub Pop records and fomented a formidable, roomwide mosh pit for most of the show. Frontman Spencer Moody mustered an unhinged, feral energy, wielding the microphone stand like a cattle prod, convulsing just shy of flinging his browline glasses from his face. His vocals on such crowd favorites as “Dancing Shoes” and “Idle Hands” were more guttural, declarative howling than singing, all the better to shout along with.
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Guitarist Dann Gallucci — whose mom was happily rocking out in the venue’s upper level — wore a milewide smile under his fisherman cap. In between songs, keyboardist Leslie Hardy seductively smoked cigarettes at the side of the stage. Her sinister organ runs gave the band’s brute-force garage punk a kitschy, gothic flair.
With this massive noir-rock soundtrack behind them, songs like “Rum to Whiskey,” “She,” “Press Gang,” and “Johnny Thunders” — songs about drinking, drunken girls with guns, the occasional drunken lynching, and a dead, drunk punk-rock idol “who died with his guitar in his hands” — assumed an almost holy gravitas. At one point Moody audibled to guide the band into “Dear Hearts” to much audience approval. While the Devils tore through their set professionally and passionately (betraying none of the booze-fueled acrimony that made their reputation and eventually led to their split) they could’ve played pretty much anything in any condition and the crowd still would’ve hung on every note.
Openers Past Lives were the only Seattle band with the volume and chops to stand up to the Murder City Devils’ excitable fans. For 40 minutes, over some powerful new material, they demonstrated why they’re one of Seattle’s most promising rock acts.
Both bands play at the Showbox again tonight. The show is sold out.
Jonathan Zwickel: firstname.lastname@example.org