Thursday, March 24, 2011
Devotchka at the Highline Ballroom
Despite some issues with the sound system the show was one of the best I've seen this year. The crowd was tame, but it made for plenty of dancing room for me and my cohort. Even as I am writing this, I am shaking my head and humming the songs though it's been hours upon hours since the music stopped. The set list was everything I could've hoped for and more. It was a healthy mix of their entire catalog and included some choice tracks off of their newest album, "100 Lovers". (Side note: I find the new album very crisp with a slight modern-sounding edge to it I hadn't detected in their previous work before.) The few tracks that they'd chosen to perform that night harmonized beautifully with their more classic hits.
The show itself was certainly more stripped down than the previous shows I've seen from Devotchka, but I felt it was a pleasant change of pace. It allowed me to focus more on their musical prowess and not be distracted superfluous flash. That is not to say that there wasn't SOME flash. There were some key moments during the set, where the sudden appearance of scantily clad silhouettes began a sultry dance to entice us- not to mention the dames in their britches spinning large white umbrellas. Though these little ladies were very welcome, for me, Devotchka's musical talent was the real show stopper. I've never seen such a wide variety of instruments switched on and off between songs in my life. Jeanie went from sousaphone, to upright bass, and to flute with merely a subtle bat of the lashes to indicate a shift. I watched in utter captivation as the drummer Shawn wailed away on his trumpet from behind the drum set- while still maintaining a beat! Not to mention the musical shapeshifting of Tom who went from piano to accordion to violin so quickly I never even saw the switch occur!