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DeVotchKa @ Turner Hall Ballroom

Thursday, May 8, 2008

May. 13, 2008
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  If used correctly, orchestral instruments have a place in contemporary pop music. Before assholes like the (eye-patch wearing pirate) singer from Kansas and Dave Mathews ruined it for everyone, the violin alone was generally an acceptable and welcomed aural enhancement to just about any applicable song. An entire string section, you say?It better be extravagant and even a little gratuitous if the desired effect is to awe the listener.

  DeVotchKa, a band boasting an unlikely blend of guitar, upright bass, sousaphone, drum set, piano, accordion and strings—just to name a few of their instruments—play traditional music in a very untraditional way. Any recording artist seeking advice on how to awe the listener may want to catch DeVotchKa at one of their remaining U.S. tour dates or search YouTube for some clips from their first-ever Milwaukee performance at the Turner Hall Ballroom last Thursday night.

  Prior to the film and accompanying soundtrack release of Little Miss Sunshine, which included several DeVotchKa songs (from their 2004 release How it Ends), the Denver, CO, based band had to rely on support from peers like The Dresden Dolls, Sufjan Stevens and the Arcade Fire to keep their career alive. Now, not even two years later, the number of attendees at their concerts has multiplied exponentially, perhaps almost equaling that of their aforementioned contemporaries.
  The audience at the Turner Hall Ballroom was treated to a solid set that drew heavily from DeVotchKa’s latest offering, A Mad & Faithful Telling, but included plenty of back catalog numbers like “Twenty-Six Temptations” and their well-respected cover of Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “The Last Beat of My Heart.” Songs immortalized in Sunshine, including the mariachi-infused “We’re Going Home” and a moving—not going to lie, almost tear-jerking—version of “How it Ends,” were also awarded to the audience for enthusiastically listening to lesser-known material. During the encore, singer Nick Urata and band welcomed to the stage two aerialist performers, who surprised the audience with some Cirque du Soleil-styled rope gymnastics before the band closed with “You Love Me.”

  If DeVotchKa continues to cultivate this type of engaging performance for their fans, their career potential should be unlimited.



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