Tag Archives: Kevin Devine


A Band and a Genre on the Rise

February 24th, 2014

Into It. Over It. – The Bowery Ballroom – February 21, 2014

Into It. Over It. - The Bowery Ballroom - February 21, 2014
The beauty of The Bowery Ballroom is the weight of importance assigned to headlining a show there for bands that are staring down success. Each year the venue showcases wildly different stories of artists on the rise, from a soul singer in his 60s to any number of folk or rock bands—or even a young veteran of a scene in the middle of a massive comeback. The latter was fully on display on Friday night, as Evan Weiss and his emo-revival-leading band, Into It. Over It., joined a sold-out crowd in spilling probably a little blood, a bunch of sweat and definitely some tears.

The word emo is about as loaded as can get in music, and it often (and quickly) turns off even the most curious listeners. But if there’s one artist in that scene’s current resurrection that has lasting power and crossover appeal, it’s Weiss. You could pick any song from his arsenal (impressive on his own, he’s unstoppable when it comes to creating new side projects) and boast of how earnest his songwriting is, or how he never settles for a simple rock-chord progression. Basically any song from this band’s two LPs is a highlight, as are any of the deeper tracks Weiss unearths each night. His voice is as clear, recognizable and melodic as Ben Gibbard’s, but Weiss has shown he isn’t afraid to stretch it into grittier yells and bent notes to wring that extra bit of feeling from the hearts in the audience.

Although Weiss hails from Chicago, the night felt eerily similar to New Yorker Kevin Devine’s first headlining Bowery Ballroom show five years ago: The connection each has with his fans is as similar as their purposeful and often intricate songwriting. Appropriately, Devine was in the audience on Friday, and Weiss even took a moment away from the microphone to conduct a cheeky conversation across the venue about ice cream sandwiches and marriage. It was a bit of a non sequitur, sure, but it spoke to one last immutable quality that Weiss possesses. He is by all accounts an extremely likable guy, someone you find yourself passionately rooting for even if you’ve just discovered or listened to him for the very first time. Regardless of whether this emo revival continues a few more years or dies
within a few months, Weiss now has the chance to do this for as long as he wants.
—Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Kevin Devine – Webster Hall – November 22, 2013

November 25th, 2013

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Bad Books Play Their Biggest Show to Date

July 15th, 2013

Bad Books – Webster Hall – July 12, 2013

As individuals and as a band, the members of Bad Books are no strangers to New York City. Singer Kevin Devine is from here, and he and the rest of his bandmates (also known as Manchester Orchestra) have played in just about every room this city has to offer. But Friday night at Webster Hall was the biggest local show Bad Books, formed in 2010, have played so far. Their shows are always loose and fun, and the often-silly relationship between cofrontmen Devine and Andy Hull was obvious as they busted out a Simon & Garfunkel–like version of the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

The rest of the set had that same sort of loose and carefree vibe, and the band clicked so well that they’re nothing but a total joy to watch perform. And now with two albums, Bad Books have found a way to mix a variety of kinds of songs, from steamy, seething rock, like “Please Move,” to quieter hold-your-breath tunes, like “Ambivalent Peaks.”

But it would be remiss not to mention that the opener, the Front Bottoms, whipped the sold-out crowd into a frenzy. Hailing from New Jersey, this former duo turned full band has been gaining an almost unstoppable momentum—not to mention a rapidly growing fan base. In what was also one of their biggest shows, the Front Bottoms made sure to get their time’s worth, going onstage early to bust out a wild set full of their signature sound while their fans put on a dizzying crowd-surfing display. It might seem difficult to find a unique band these days, but you need look no further than these guys. Their graduation into one of the bigger rooms in the city couldn’t have gone better. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Miracle of 86 Take a Trip Back

June 17th, 2013

Miracle of 86 – Mercury Lounge – June 15, 2013

As reunion shows have become ubiquitous, the special sheen associated with them has begun to wear thin with so many bands getting back together, often for what feels like hollow reasons. But for every former radio-rock group that does it there’s a small band like Miracle of 86 that might never have had the chance, or maybe just needed the social momentum, to come back together and give their fans a chance to see them perform a few more times. After what seemed like a one-off show this past winter to raise money for victims of Hurricane Sandy, in the band’s original stomping ground of Staten Island, singer Kevin Devine and his bandmates decided to play a few more, appearing at Maxwell’s on Friday and then Mercury Lounge on Saturday night.

Looking back, what’s especially remarkable about that first run of Miracle of 86 shows is that they occurred in the now prominent shadow of Devine’s current success (both with his solo acoustic shows and his full-band affairs), and yet while some fans went to experience Miracle of 86 for the first time this past weekend, trusting in his name alone, that wasn’t true for most in the crowd. On Saturday night, the room on Houston Street where Miracle of 86 played their first New York City show 15-and-a-half years ago was primarily filled with people you’d hope would be there—old friends and fans. Which is why the energetic show didn’t seem contrived, instead it felt like a bizarre time-travel window into what could have been. In fact, when Devine asked if anyone had been to both shows, someone shouted, “I wish!” from the back. “Too bad we can’t go back in time,” replied Devine, cutting himself off as he looked around the stage at his old band. “Although, I guess we can.” —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Bad Books, Good Show

February 21st, 2013

Bad Books – The Bowery Ballroom – February 20, 2013

Returning to the room where they made their live debut in 2010, the combo group of Bad Books put on an arresting show last night at The Bowery Ballroom. The visible difference this time around was how tight the band was, whether it was the louder, faster-paced “You Wouldn’t Have to Ask” or the blood-boiling simmer of “Please Move.” This was thanks to the band—Kevin Devine and the members of Manchester Orchestra—having another album’s worth of material and a bit more experience playing the songs together.

There was even a noticeable difference during the slow acoustic songs (which is not something new to singers Devine and Andy Hull, who have played together acoustically for years), and those moments were elevated by those in the attentive crowd embracing total silence, their gazes fixed on the two singers harmonizing onstage. It was the kind of special moment both frontmen have cultivated in their solo performances, and it was nice to see it translate to a slightly different setting.

The rapport shared by Devine and Hull is reason alone to see Bad Books perform, and that was an important part of the show as well. The two cracked jokes throughout the set, but their bizarre humor was never more evident than when Hull introduced a “new song” by claiming, “This is the first song that Kevin and I legitimately wrote together,” before easing into half of a cover of Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Let Her Cry.” —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Kevin Devine Celebrates

December 3rd, 2012

Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band – Webster Hall – December 1, 2012

Bucking the recent trend of shows and tours based around 10-year anniversaries of album releases, Kevin Devine took a slightly different route this past Saturday night at Webster Hall, instead celebrating the 10 years he and his backing band(s) have played together. The night, which featured no other acts, was split into three sets, each dedicated to a different album. Up first, 200s’s Circle Gets the Square earned an entirely acoustic performance from Devine, which capably displayed his ability to arrest a crowd’s focus with his stunning solo presence. Over the years, he’s showed off this skill on a song or two at various venues throughout the city, but to see him quiet a bigger room for an entire album’s worth of songs was a new and special experience.

During the next two sets, Devine was supported by the different arrangements of the Goddamn Band’s incarnations over the years. They played his most recent album—Between the Concrete & Clouds—first, in part because the band didn’t originally have the chance to play many of the songs due to touring schedules after its release. The crowd, which had been in awe during the first set, was now whipping about to the louder, faster and familiar sounds of the Goddamn Band. When that album was finished, Devine and
Co. followed it with 2005’s Split the Country, Split the Street, which rounded out the night with a blend of louder and quieter moments, and even saw a few guest appearances, like Brand New’s Jesse Lacey.

Ask fans of Kevin Devine’s why they like to see him play again and again, and a common thread will emerge: His concerts always feel like homecoming shows, and that adds something special to them. During the encore, with celebratory cards being passed around for people to sign, plus Devine’s family among the more than 1,000 loyal fans in the room, he thanked everyone for being a part of the band. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


A Strong Three-Band Bill

August 17th, 2012

MewithoutYou/Kevin Devine/Buried Beds – Music Hall of Williamsburg – August 16, 2012


Before they wrap up a summer of touring for their fifth album, Ten Stories, at home this weekend in Philadelphia, wordy rockers mewithoutYou played the first of two shows here in New York City. Their unique mix of sharp guitars, grungy accordion (if there is such a thing) and lyrics that iterate but never truly repeat, all had the crowd at Music Hall of Williamsburg howling last night. To the untrained eye the band’s style would seem like so much noise and clatter, but a second look would unearth the skill that each member possesses. When singer Aaron Weiss wasn’t rifling off dense verses, he was kneeling by the drum set, toweling off while prepping another new instrument to play. Brother Michael Weiss was armed with a litany of ways to alter his maniacal-at-times playing, as was bassist Greg Jehanian, who used a slide to stretch out the highest notes his bass could produce.

The lineup before mewithoutYou was notably diverse, as they followed hometown act Kevin Devine, who professed that this had been one of his “top two or three tours” he’s ever been on, nodding to the skill and passion of the musicians he shared it with. As Devine’s acoustic sets tend to be, his was brilliant and beautiful, as he handles dynamics in a way most solo performers wouldn’t even know how. Throughout each song Devine constantly leaned in toward and away from the microphone, whether in inches or feet, as during a chilling, crawling version of “Brother’s Blood.” His stripped-down performances have also become enthralling to watch because of the push and pull between his commanding presence and his fans’ desire to sing along with him. Like you sometimes lean a certain way to try to change the path of the person headed straight for you on a crowded street, Devine held and stretched certain words and chords to keep the audience from drowning him out, relenting only a handful of times.

But the big surprise of the show was Buried Beds, a band that looked young when they took the stage but dispatched that perception with an incredibly tight performance of their folk-pop style. Partially led by mewithoutYou’s second guitarist Brandon Beaver and backed by drums, bass and violin, their sound was highlighted by pitch-perfect lead vocals and harmonies from Eliza Jones, who also manned guitar and keyboards. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Hilary J. Corts | www.hilaryjcorts.com

(See all three bands tonight at The Bowery Ballroom.)


Sometimes Bad Books Are Really Good

October 21st, 2010

Bad Books – The Bowery Ballroom – October 20, 2010

Bad Books - The Bowery Ballroom - October 20, 2010
They fumbled while tuning their guitars, nervously laughed through some banter and shouted out chord changes to one another a few times. But these signs of a new band didn’t faze the experienced members of Bad Books. “Guys, I feel awesome right now,” said cofrontman Andy Hull as they began their first-ever show. Along with Kevin Devine (who helped open the CMJ Music Marathon the night before), the members of the Manchester Orchestra make up what is known as Bad Books, a new band that Hull was sure to explain was not a side project.

As they played through their set last night at The Bowery Ballroom, the band shook off first-show jitters and began to belt out incredible material from their self-titled debut album. Up to four of the six members would sing at times, with Devine and Hull splitting the lead duties. Devine took the lead on a few joyous-sounding songs like (as they joked) their “hit single,” “You Wouldn’t Have to Ask,” and “Holding Down the Laughter.” Hull, meanwhile, was in charge of the louder, grittier fare, like “Please Move,” but also the most hushed moments: It’s a thing of beauty to watch him quiet a room with just a guitar and his voice (which he also did in an opening slot with his other other solo band, Right Away, Great Captain!).

The main set ended with a song called “Texas,” which featured just Devine and Hull, with the latter singing on guitar and the former shrouded in darkness on the drums. The entire band reformed for an encore with the 9:45 p.m. curfew looming, but instead of cutting a few songs, they smilingly hurried through them all, furiously playing a few of their own tunes from those other bands like a kid trying to finish his homework before class. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Kevin Devine Kicks Off CMJ

October 20th, 2010

Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band – Music Hall – October 19, 2010

Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band - Music Hall of Williamsburg - October 19, 2010
For the first time in more than a year, Kevin Devine headlined a show with his Goddamn Band, and he celebrated the occasion by letting them choose the set list for last night’s show at Music Hall of Williamsburg. The night served as the beginning of this year’s CMJ Music Marathon, which Devine mentioned onstage, saying how hard it was for him to believe he got to do that.

The set began with a few songs that normally make it into one of Devine’s shows, but then started taking turns thanks to the Goddamn Band. A deeper cut off his 2006 album, Put Your Ghost to Rest, “You’ll Only End Up Joining Them,” made it to the stage for the first time in a while, followed by an even rarer song in “The Shift Change Splits the Streets.” The band did a lot less midset lineup changing than they have in the past, but brought out an extra man for the trumpet parts on “Fever Moon” and “Murphy’s Song.”

The second half of the show became a wild shout-along, featuring the best and most thrilling of Devine’s songs. Hearing “Noose Dressed Like a Necklace” was a treat as it brewed through its first few verses before ending in torrid screaming and slashing guitars (guitarist Mike Strandberg alone is worth the price of admission to any of Devine’s shows). Fan favorites like the blissful “I Could Be with Anyone,” “Cotton Crush” and “Ballgame” finished the hour-plus set, leaving just enough time for a two-song encore and one final split between old and new. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


CMJ Music Marathon Starts Today

October 19th, 2010

For some people, the CMJ Music Marathon, which starts today and runs through Saturday, is the most wonderful time of the year. There’s lots of live music to go around, so you know The Bowery Presents will be involved. Mercury Lounge—with the likes of Harper Blynn, John Vanderslice, Nada Surf, and Gordon Gano (formerly of Violent Femmes) and the Ryans—has a deep, disparate lineup throughout the festival.

But it’s not like The Bowery Ballroom is slacking this week, with seven bands filling the room on Thursday, including the Jezabels, a coed quartet from Sydney making their U.S. debut. Friday brings Dean Wareham, Crocodiles and Wakey! Wakey! to the venue, and Saturday is just crazy with Surfer Blood, Neon Indian, DOM and eight other cool groups. Plus there will even be a free afternoon party on Saturday at Piano’s, with six bands upstairs and five downstairs.

Of course, all of that is in Manhattan. In Brooklyn, Music Hall of Williamsburg will be doing plenty of entertaining of its own, with Kevin Devine and the Goddamn band headlining tonight, Head Automatica taking the lead tomorrow and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart as part of the Brooklyn Vegan showcase on Thursday. Blue Flowers, which began as a night of stellar music in West London and has blossomed into much more, hosts Friday’s showcase, bringing two of the hottest acts coming out of the UK right now, Chapel Club and Everything Everything—above, playing “Tin (Man Hole)” for Little Noise Sessions—to our shores.

So you’ve got an abundance of options. If you find that overwhelming and don’t know what to see, Mercury Lounge talent buyer Jay Belin offered some suggestions to NBC New York.


Reunited and It Feels So Good

November 2nd, 2009

The Get Up Kids – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 1, 2009

The Get Up Kids
While bands like KISS have devalued the real significance of reunion tours, there are still acts like the Get Up Kids willing to prove that not all reunion tours are half-assed attempts at moneygrubbing. Taking the stage to the tongue-in-cheek intro music of Prince’s “1999,” the Get Up Kids wrapped up a three-night stay in New York City with a sold-out show at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Following a now commonly brilliant set from hometown boy Kevin Devine, the Get Up Kids made, surprisingly, their first-ever appearance in Brooklyn. More than just a trip down memory lane, the show was filled with energy not normally seen on reunion tours.

Mixing in everything from the ubiquitous “Holiday” to B-side “Anne Arbour,” the band played for more than an hour to the delight of the raucous crowd. Lead singer Matt Pryor’s voice sounded remarkably similar to the recordings on the band’s watershed album, Something to Write Home About, released a decade ago. But the group also had to tread new ground during the set (thanks to guitarist Jim Suptic’s allergic reaction to his Tin Man costume from their Halloween show). Left voiceless, Suptic’s vocals were picked up by keyboard player James Dewees, who jokingly apologized about how his low range would make his new parts sound “too screamo.”

After a stage-dive-inducing performance of “I’m a Loner Dottie, a Rebel…” during the encore, Pryor asked if the audience wanted a “slow song or a rock song.” When the crowd screamed for the latter, one more vocal substitution was needed. Pryor grinned his way through “Ten Minutes,” normally sung by Suptic, and admitted he had never sung it before. —Sean O’Kane


Kevin Devine Ends His Tour in Brooklyn

June 8th, 2009

Kevin Devine/Miniature Tigers – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 7, 2009

Kevin Devine - Music Hall of Williamsburg - June 7, 2009

For an artist whose performances normally hinge on pin-drop acoustic moments and heavily personal lyrics, last night’s Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band show at Music Hall of Williamsburg was certainly a departure. The entire crowd was befuddled when Devine took to the stage a few minutes early to explain there would be a “cultural” performance introduction to his set. What followed was a hysterically over-the-top but very well planned handshake routine between the Goddamn Band’s Mike Strandberg and the Miniature Tigers’ Rick Schaier full of claps, shouts and more choreography than a cheerleading act.

To say that this alone set the tone for the rest of the night would diminish the hilarious menagerie that was the closing song of the Miniature Tigers’ set, which featured most of Devine’s and opener Brian Bonz’s shared band wandering around the stage (one performer in a wig eating an apple) while the Tigers tried to finish their brilliant set of punchy and sweetly percussive music.

When the playground-style performance was finished, Devine looked into the crowd and asked, “Why would you even stay for the show after that?” But he answered the question by beginning his set with crowd-pleasers “Ballgame” and “Cotton Crush.” It didn’t take long until the Brooklyn boy himself got caught up in the lighthearted tone of the evening, nearing delirium while he spoke between songs and laughed with bandmates over inside jokes from the six-week tour that this show concluded. Two hours, even more laughs, and what felt like his entire discography later, Kevin Devine walked off the stage, home again, having proved exactly why the crowd wanted to stay. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


Kevin Devine – The Bowery Ballroom – April 24, 2009

April 27th, 2009

Kevin Devine - The Bowery Ballroom - April 24, 2009Just over a year ago, Kevin Devine headlined his first show at The Bowery Ballroom with a long, emotion-filled set. And just a handful of shows there later, he has become something of a regular: His shows sell out (and fast), his family attends and those in the crowd always check their distractions at the door so they can offer their total attention to one of New York City’s newest musical sons.

Unlike that first show in January of last year (which featured more pin-drop moments than most New York City shows will ever see), Devine’s performance on Friday highlighted his backing group, the Goddamn Band. The night served as the official CD-release show for his newest album, Brother’s Blood, which even Devine admitted during the set relies heavily on his band.

Devine and the Goddamn Band ruled the stage for almost two hours, playing much of the new album, due out tomorrow, including the eerie spine-tingler “Carnival” and the ultracatchy pop of “I Could Be with Anyone.” Devine’s shouts and screams were a perfect complement to Mike Strandberg’s brilliant lead guitar, Brian Bonz’s vocals (he also served as the opener), Russell Smith’s guitar, and bassist Chris Bracco and drummer Mike Skinner’s pressing rhythms.

The intense and bombastic points in the set (capped by the heart-wrenching growl of the title track, “Brother’s Blood”) were wonderful, but the night was special because of those pin-drop moments, as fleeting as they were. Devine finished the night with “Ballgame,” a performance that sucked the crowd’s breath out of its collective lungs, leaving the room so silent not even the clinking of glasses rang out from the bars in the back. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com