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    Friday, August 18, 2006

    DeVotchKa @ The Independent, 8-17-06



    I knew something was up when the man in front of me started crying. He was in his early fifties with a lumberjack beard and glasses like bulletproof windows. He looked like a computer programmer or a crossing guard. His kids had probably already graduated from college. And yet halfway through the audience singalong for "How It Ends," the distinct tracks of tears started striping his cheeks. I turned to my friend Anna to mention it. "I'm about to cry too," she said. At other moments through DeVotchKa's set, she'd shake me or fall against me. "It's too beautiful. I can't take it," she'd protest a la Ricky Fitts.



    But then just as quickly, the band would switch instruments and electrify the room. Tom Hagerman would trade in the violin for the accordion; Shawn King laid down drumsticks for the trumpet. Jeanie Schroder's sousaphone lit up with Christmas lights while singer Nick Urata, he of the porn-squiggle moustache, guzzled wine. They'd veer from a mournful cabaret-tinged tune to a spry mariachi number, exchanging their emoting for Ennio Morricone. The criers instantly turned to clappers. Anna kept rocking against me, but now it was out of sheer excitement.



    Mariachi was only one more sound in DeVotchKa's arsenal of influences, which dabbled in everything from Beirut-ish gypsy beats to jazz to indie pop. Showing off the range of their latest EP, Curse Your Little Heart, they offered up both Siouxsie and The Banshees' "The Last Beat of My Heart" and Sinatra's "Somethin' Stupid." Whatever style they ventured into though, they remained impressive throughout. With a talent show enthusiasm and an orchestra's refinement, they tackled more instruments than some bands twice their size. They played every song with apparent joy, a smile perpetually creeping onto Schroder's lips when she was on bass. And the crowd responded, as devoted and receptive as almost any band's I've seen.




    DeVotchKa returned for two encores, with Urata constantly thanking the audience. He still seemed startled by his band's popularity, telling us about their not-too-distant days of playing parties and coffeehouses. Then as if to justify their newfound standing, they jammed with even greater intensity, Hagerman's staccato violin nearly approaching Rimsky-Korsakov territory. They didn't do any more of those six-tissue numbers however, which was just fine. DeVotchKa showed last night that they could wring as much emotion and excitement out of rocking out as they could from a heartfelt ballad. And that, it turns out, is how it ends.



    * MP3: "How It Ends" - DeVotchKa from Little Miss Sunshine Soundtrack [Buy it]
    * MP3: "Curse Your Little Heart" - DeVotchKa from Curse Your Little Heart [Buy it]
    * MP3: "El Zopilote Mojado" - DeVotchKa from Curse Your Little Heart [Buy it]
    * MP3: "We're Leaving" - DeVotchKa from How It Ends [Buy it]
    * Band Website: DeVotchKa

    Comments on "DeVotchKa @ The Independent, 8-17-06"

     

    Blogger plátano said ... (11:16 PM) : 

    i've converted to an adoring devotchka fan over night. i want to stalk the violin/accordion player. you are a very talented writer. i bet you can beat me in scrabble. we gotta to play.
    (the other anna)

     

    Blogger Miss H said ... (2:47 PM) : 

    in fact, i WAS crying.

    (that anna)

     

    Blogger Miqdad said ... (1:58 AM) : 

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