A snowy Chicago evening at the Concord Music Hall showcased The Devil Makes Three with opening act Roebuck on January 12th, 2018. The Concord has a gentleman’s club swanky kind of vibe happening. The animal print and gold leaf wallpaper were entirely in line with Roebuck, and the Ruin & Redemption feel of DM3’s last release. Those familiar with the cover filled album could probably imagine the definitive antithesis to which I am referring. It’s an all-around knock you down style album.
Roebuck was a great crowd warmer. The kick drum duo felt like Tom Waits with happy go lucky Randy Newman lyrics. Half of the duo, Phoenix, is from Chicago.
“It’s so good to be back where people know how to drive in the snow!”
Phoenix had a very Blondie style with fishnets and fine slaps pumping out of her upright bass. Roebuck had a charming blend of bubblegum and backbone. Chicago loves its own and Roebuck loved the audience right back from the stage.
The crowd was a curated vision of a good times gallery. For the most part, it was a blue-collar crowd dressed up in their fancy going out clothes. Gathered in front of the all-seeing eye kickdrum were the rockabilly queens with plaid and motorcycle boots or western boots, whatever boots were not winter boots. The millennials had on their Aztec prints scarves while a dude was holding up his Barbie doll tanked on Jack Daniels. My personal favorite was the fella wearing a full red NASA jumpsuit complete with personalized Jedi patches. He twiddled his water bottle until the finger licking tunes started cranking and the floor started shaking. At 10:15, a five-piece took the stage. Tight, crisp marching band drumline boot stomping doubled tripled, fourfold, five...It wasn’t flashy harmony, but it was professional punch like a brick wall so thick with texture it rips your cold stretched fingertips over its scratches.
Unsure of who the violin player and drummer were, I lost focus of their added bonus presence. The auxiliary instruments served quite nicely to fill out that core beat that The Devil Makes Three is known for. If I closed my eyes, I could picture Keller & the Keels, but the vision of Jenny Keel is like a Sunny D mom and DM3 comes crashing thru that picture like Twisted Sister. As a mosh pit broke out in front of Cooper McBean, the sawtooth scissors hands overhead clapping look like waves of wet, heavy tides coming towards the stage as The Devil Makes Three swap vocals like stories sitting belly up at the bar. Fifty Shades darker than Keller and the Keels, The Devil Makes Three plowed into Gracefully Facedown. As they rounded the corner into Graveyard the crowd crashing towards stage with pockets of mosh pits intensified.
I saw ladies with some Elvis Pelvis dancing bones stifled by their dates that were insisting their dancing partners hold them upright instead of kickin up their heels. This is not to say that some ladies weren’t in the sleepwalking zombie crawl stance but for the most part, the ladies were gittin’ at it on this particular night! Old Number Seven ripped thru the crowd, sending the fever pitch crescendo to another high. The Concord’s wooden floors seemed more like trampolines when they bust into I Am the Man Thomas from their latest studio album, Ruin & Redemption.
The Devil Makes Three chose certain covers that staunchly fit into the category of dark spiritual for the redemption theme and covers that had vices all over them for the ruin theme. It hard for me to hear a band cover Dr. Ralph Stanley. He is a true purist, thru and thru. But true to their art, DM3 had made I Am The Man, Thomas their own. Pete’s impeccable tight n light rhythm lifted the audience’s feet off the floor for an added endorphin buzz. It had this John Travolta feel to it knocking down anyone that tried to resist the dance. Taking in the scene as a whole, it was a spaghetti western Yemenite ritual dance.
The Devil Makes Three has been around for 15 years. You can’t get the kind of ritualistic perfection, that they so clearly have, just overnight. It is evident that the music is leading the way as this band continues to lock in its audiences with rowdy sharp angles. It’s punk rowk twang music with a side of soul. Pete told a story from stage about way back when trying to land their first gig. The booking agent asked him, “What kind of music are you?” He replied, “Country.” The booking agent said that was good because he didn't want any more metal bands playing there. Pete said that very booking agent was in the Chicago crowd tonight. I wonder how “country,” he thinks The Devil Makes Three is these days...