Murder City Devils
07/29 | Capitol Hill Block Party, Seattle
07/30 | Showbox, Seattle
Late lords of wolfman-howling, brooding cowboy/trucker/sailor rock, The Murder City Devils have raised themselves from a five-year slumber to assemble for The Capitol Hill Block Party in their hometown of Seattle, WA. Having run all pre-sale tickets a week before the event, an additional gig was scheduled on a moment’s notice for the following evening at Seattle’s Showbox; and it too was mobbed less than 24-hours later.
On night one, all seven original members are beaming side-stage, donning their latest personal re-inventions. Notably, roadie Gabe Kerbrat has taken back his hair several inches and fitted himself into a dapper suit-and-hat combo clearly inspired by the gangsters of prohibition-era Chicago.
Spencer Moody (vocals) and Derek Fudesco (bass) are both now sporting Sasquatchy beards; though Spencer’s is exceedingly more intrusive. He’s looking a bit latter-day Jim Morrison meets Ted Kaczynski. Coupled with the paint spattered denim that he will wear both nights; it doesn’t appear the time off has turned him nouveau riche.
The Block Party stretches about four blocks up Seattle’s Pike Street, and is brimming with 7,000 revelers plus hundreds of performers, guests, merchants and security (oh, security…) It seems much of the time that there are two staffers blaring conflicting orders to each partygoer.
The sound is a bit muddled at the beginning, but this is easily made-up for in stage presence. Tearing the lid off this can of whoop-ass for the first time in five years feels like a bomb blast; and these cats have obviously had a yearning to ignite the wick for some time now.
The reason behind hesitant sound is quickly explained. It turns out there’s an officer of the Seattle Police Department hovering over the soundboard; if the levels reach higher that a certain peak, the band will be fined $5000. While rumor has it they are being paid $20,000 plus back-end for tonight’s performance, five G’s is nonetheless a hefty penalty for rocking.
After a solid 45-minute set of all hits (every Devils song is a hit, after all,) they launch into a 20-minute encore that is perfectly premeditated to wow the audience beyond anything else that has happened this evening, this weekend, or in the past half-decade. The energy, the continuity and the pauseless transitions between it’s four or five songs (it’s hard to keep track when they bleed too immediately…) add up to a frenzy among these thousands of fans packing ever closer toward the climactic stage. This finale is topped off with the announcement that these Devils will gig again tomorrow—a fact that even the band wasn’t aware of at the on-set of that night’s performance.
Barely a wink of sleep follows the all-night after-party, and it’s time for the three S’s, a bit of breakfast, and an onslaught of Bloody Marys to chase away the hangover (or just to stay on an evenly drunken keel).
Arriving a bit early to catch the opening act, we find Seattle colleagues, The Blood Brothers blazing the already brimming crowd it up at the Showbox. Rumors were flying about events that happened the night before; and we felt a little less like complaining about our hangovers after hearing them. Apparently, The Blood Brothers night was much worse than our day.
While parked in the northern suburbs of Seattle during the night, The Brothers’ van and trailer were broken into, and every piece of their equipment was taken from them. Fortunately, they are insured—and they found equipment to play that night —unfortunately, after playing together for a decade, some things are certainly going to be irreplaceable.
Before the Devil’s set, Moody tells us side-stage that the band’s current plan is “open-ended;” he says with an intentionally perceivable sarcasm, leading us to believe there will be more to come of the Devils. “We don’t live here anymore, so it’s kind of hard for us to do stuff together.” He continues. “But we’re all getting along really well. It’s really low-key.” That’s definitely a positive sign, as their split in 2001 was rumored to be rather tumultuous.
Tonight, we’ll take what we can get—and that’s quite a lot. Old friend DJ Cherry Canoe takes the stage to introduce those who need no introduction in this town. She reminisces about the band’s last show (which on the very same stage five Halloweens ago), and confesses that—for old time’s sake—she and the band had just done shots of tequila in the ladies’ room. The band kicks it off with a blazing rendition of “Press Gang,” and hammers out a seamless onslaught for the next hour.
During short breaks, Spencer thanks certain VIPs, dedicates songs, and brings on-stage old friends like John Pettibone (Botch, Himsa) and Brian Cook (Botch, Roy) to assist with the performance. During one spot, he takes the time to thank The Blood Brothers, saying in his most classic, drunken slur “No matter how much those guys say we’ve influenced them, they’ve influenced us way more.”
Appreciably, they announce that they aren’t going to leave the stage and come back for an encore. “We’re just gonna play our last three songs. We wish we could do more; but we haven’t played together for a long time, and that’s all we remember.”
No amount of Murder City Devils is too much after this long hiatus; but no one seems to complain about the hour and fifteen minutes they gave us tonight; especially considering most of us got over an hour the night before.
As for the question that’s begged: Will there be more Murder City Devils to come? Despite no solid answers from the great decision-makers themselves, we’re placing our bets on the affirmative.