Quick Concert Review: Devotchka

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I’m entirely unsure how to describe the experience I just had seeing Devotchka perform live at Washington, DC’s 9:30 Club.  I am sure, however, that it was rather mind-blowing and that the five members of Denver’s Devotchka share a preternatural musical virtuosity. And, I’m quite sure that I’ve never seen anything like it.

Start with the fact that you apparently cannot be a member of this band unless you play at least three instruments at an exceptionally high level. Continue with the fact that those instruments include unconventional rock-show-instruments like the flute, the tuba, the trumpet, the accordion, the xylophone, and various other strings that serve as a fitting background to Nick Urata’s always incredible and frequently spine-chilling vox. Complete the experience with the visual of two nubile and clearly strong-in-their-core young women scaling the heights of the venue using their bare hands, feet, impressive upper body strength, and two parallel pieces of persimmon-colored fabric.

I can say without a doubt that their albums do no justice to their incredible talent, and also that their genre-hopping compositions will evoke the image of a gypsy riding through a spaghetti western accompanied by a mariachi band…a mariachi band with turbo-folk influences.  Ahh yes, the first time in my life that I’ve referenced that Yugoslav musical mainstay, turbo-folk, in a non-derogatory manner. Suffice to say that if you like to be pleasantly surprised…if you like seeing incredibly talented and well-schooled musicians plying their trade….if you like seeing scantily-clad women with ridiculous upper-body strength performing feats of strength…then seeing Devotchka is an absolute must-do event.

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Behrnsie has a love for music that dare not speak its name. He attends many shows and can often be found counting out the beats for no discernible reason. He played alto saxophone in his middle school jazz band, where he was best known for infuriating his instructor when it was revealed that he played everything by ear, and could not in fact read music. He takes great pride that this is the same talent/affliction that got Tori Amos kicked out of the Peabody Academy. He does not live in his parents’ basement….except during the holidays.