Thursday, June 29th, 2006
Such A Lovely Thing
I had been waiting for Tuesday night’s DeVotchKa show for some time – well, at least since I posted on them last month, having spent a good deal of the interim listening to their latest EP Curse Your Little Heart and generally craving something different from the usual indie rock fare.
Touring openers Norfolk & Western were no-shows on account of a van breakdown in Vermont so local country-gospeler Jon-Rae Fletcher got the call to fill in with a River-less solo acoustic set. I’ve seen Jon-Rae a few times and he’s never done anything for me – tonight did nothing to change that opinion. But he did pass the time and got DeVotchKa onstage a little earlier than scheduled so that was a plus. A pity about Norfolk & Western, though – I had really looked forward to seeing them. Alas, maybe next time.
While I generally try to avoid descriptions like this, I have to say DeVotchKa’s frontman Nick Urata is like the love child of Morrissey and Dean Martin, kidnapped and raised by Gypsies in the deserts of New Mexico. Everything about Urata and his band is strange and indescribable in simple terms, from their instrumentation – everyone is a multi-instrumentalist and broke out upright bass, tuba, violin, accordian and glockenspiel to name but a few, when called for. The band stuck to the more intense and dramatic end of their repetoire for the most part, only letting Urata slip into crooner mode a couple times on the night. Otherwise, it was a swirl of richly-textured strings, percussion, horns and unbridled romanticism that was something to behold. Their energy actually made the stifling heat in the El Mocambo part of the experience (though that’s not to say some air conditioning would have spoiled the mood). Superb stuff from certainly one of the most unique bands out there right now.
Though they’ve left their native Australia for the UK, Howling Bells are returning home for a series of dates to promote the release of their self-titled album, prompting local media like The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald to reminisce about the days when the band was sunshinier and called Waikiki. There’s also a couple of interviews with the band at Screaming Tarts and Repeat. Finally, I think this stream of the first track on their self-titled album is new:
Stream: Howling Bells – “The Bell Hit”
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review discusses the shift in sound on Calexico’s Garden Ruin with Joey Burns. Calexico play the Phoenix next Thursday, July 5, and don’t forget to enter my contest for free passes to said show. Unless you can’t go in which case go ahead and forget.
And more V Fest teasers… maybe we get Roger Moore?
So I’m off for NYC this morning. Thanks to everyone who offered help and suggestions – I’ll check in and let you know how it’s going at some point.