LIVE REVIEW: The Murder City Devils @ Webster Hall

The Murder City Devils Logo by Nate Manny

The thing about going to shows alone is you have to be resourceful and easily entertained.  The thing about going to a show alone, and smart-phone-less in New York is you have to do all of the above while looking like a leper.  The 7-dollar Budweiser that once was a foe has now become your liquid companion, and you sip it as slowly as possible to keep your hands occupied before the band goes on.  God knows you can’t just slip out a notebook and jot a few things down.  So instead you master the facial expression that says: “No, truly, I am just fine here drinking my shitty beer, without the sweet escape of Instagram.  I promise.”

So there I was again, stag at Webster Hall, rationing my alcohol for the evening, when a familiar sound jostled me out of my masturbatory introspection.  It was Cincinnati three-piece Tweens.  Their sound vibrated with nostalgic, snotty punk riffs that touched on The Buzzcocks and early Donnas.  They were incredibly energetic, and most importantly, loud.  Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that three people with a bass, guitar, and drum kit can kick up so much noise.  Lead guitarist/vocalist Bridget Battle provides a hefty supply of the band’s energy with her steady playing and impressively shrill screaming that punctuates her bratty shouts.  The band considers themselves Trash Pop, but their punk influences are more than apparent.

I finished my beer just as they wrapped up their set, and I wouldn’t be getting another.  This is because the second The Murder City Devils crawled out from backstage all liquid would become airborne shortly thereafter.  I knew to reposition myself to the outermost periphery of the floor so as not to be swept into a perspiring vortex of limbs.  As the crowed waited for the setup to be complete, the floor grew more cramped and agitated.  Like being within a ball of tense potential energy, I planted my feet far from on another in preparation for when it burst.  And sure enough, at one glimpse of lead vocalist Spencer Moody’s ginger beard, the room went manic.

The set opened with pleasers like “Rum and Whiskey” and “Idle Hands.”  There wasn’t much banter on the band’s part, but the MCD fan base is so fanatic that it wasn’t necessary: the crowd missed not one lyric.  Everyone was in such ecstatic spirits that I began to wish I hadn’t stopped at one beer.  I could be anywhere between mildly tipsy to drunk, hurling myself around recklessly like the good old days.  But when you have to write about something later, sobriety is rewarding, if only for a handful of humorous observations the drunken gaze would have passed over.

I would have never noticed the girl in the Godfather t-shirt, who certainly goes to Burning Man, undulating through and on top of the crowd.  The buff and shirtless man with Calvin Klein underwear would have been more difficult to avoid.  And, the man who stage dove right over me would have probably crushed my neck had I not employed an intuitive ducking reflex.

This isn’t to say I was too distracted to enjoy MCD.  They put on a great show every time I see them.  Their live sound is on par with, if not better than their recordings.  They play tightly as a band of 18 years should, and are gracious and aware of their loyal fan-base.  I must admit that part of what excited me so much about seeing them again was their Seattle origin.  Hearing Moody sing about Bellevue Square is both humorous and comforting for a Washingtonian like myself, and when you’re at a show solo, that’s a hell of a lot more comfort than a $7 Bud can offer.



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