Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese
A band’s age can say much about their continued creative impetus and longevity. A newly founded act often wears its major influences on its sleeve, whereas a seasoned group sometimes becomes the musical ideal, the touchstone influence for a scene, and the model for all of those that would follow, owning a sound that is very much specific and inextricable to them. However at a point in many a band’s lifetime, they will fall into the trap of playing it safe, shirking away from musical risk-taking, and instead focusing on what is familiar and “tried-and-true.” If a band cannot evolve over time, they may not disappear, but they certainly stagnate indefinitely.
Often, when a group sticks around and breaks the decade mark, it means that they may have figured out something important about continued growth as musicians and musical partners; you must walk a fine line between musical reinvention and dependency. Reinvention may be too severe and end up isolating a band’s fanbase and betraying any consistency or integrity displayed in the past. However, as mentioned before, if a band does not grow, if they depend on their same sound album after album, they become played out and a bit of a caricature of themselves.
DeVotchKa, now close to their second decade milestone, understands this dilemma intimately, but have succeeded in keeping their music sounding fresh, imaginative, and fun. They have managed, throughout their lifetime, to walk this fine line, building off their gypsy rock foundation and incorporating elements of punk, country & western, cabaret, international folk, classic pop, soundtracks, and, in this latest musical chapter, orchestration. The band has always flirted with orchestral flairs and flourishes, but they took it to the next level when they fleshed out and scored their oeuvre for a live album recorded and released last year, and a handful of concerts (like the one at the Trocadero on March 8th). They imbue new life and energy into songs I’ve heard a thousand times. One thing for sure is that whatever sound DeVotchKa chooses to experiment with next, they will make it wholly a part of their branded, signature style – I can’t wait to hear what they’ll be working on.
DeVotchKa and their orchestral compatriots were kind enough to stop by the WXPN Performance Studio on the morning of March 8th, 2013 to play a few songs for us for this latest Folkadelphia Session.
Denver’s DeVotchKa bring their chamber orchestra project to The Trocadero tonight. After recording a live album with the Colorado Symphony at Red Rocks Amphitheater, the Eastern European-influenced quartet hit the road with a chamber orchestra to bring the full and intricate layers of an orchestral performance to smaller stages. The band is also testing out new material that will be recorded as a follow-up to 2011′s 100 Lovers. Tickets and information for tonight’s all-ages show with Pearl and the Beard can be found here. Below, watch DeVotchKa perform “All the Sand in All the Sea” live at Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony.
There’s a lot of excitement around the XPN offices for DeVotchKa‘s Philly appearance next week. Part of it lies in the fact that the eclectic, eastern European-infused indie band is road-testing its first batch of new songs since 2011′s 100 Lovers. Part of it is the studio session they’ll be recording for Folkadelphia, stripped down and with a string section. And part of it is because the band always puts on a great performance – and today we’ve got your chance to check it out for yourself.
Leave a comment below to enter yourself in the running for a pair of tickets to see DeVotchKa at The Troc next Friday, March 8th. We’ll announce a winner on Thursday afternoon. Ground rules: you have to leave your first and last name in the comments, and you have to enter an email where we can contact you if you win (the e-mail will not be made public). Got it? Good. Now watch this video of DeVotchKa performing with an orchestra at Red Rocks Amphitheater and imagine how good they’ll sound next week.
FRIDAY, MARCH 25
In yesterday’s Philly Local Philes, John Vettese described local no-wave act Normal Love as sounding “something like what Deerhoof did before smoothing their sound out on 2008’s Offend Maggie“; a couple of months before that, I described the band as a less-conventional version of The Stick Men. Which basically means that, if you’re a fan of abrasive, clanging, hyperactive noise-rock, Normal Love will probably become your new favorite band. Otherwise, it’s probably your new nightmare. (Luckily for us, we fall in the first group.) Normal Love performs with Planet Y and Mirror Men at 8:30 p.m. at Highwire Gallery; tickets to the show are $6.
Also playing: Sebadoh + Richard Buckner at Johnny Brenda’s (9 p.m. 21+, SOLD OUT); DeVotchKa + Mariachi El Bronx, Mischief Brew, West Philadelphia Orchestra, Kruno Spisic at Electric Factory (8 p.m., $26); Cold War Kids + Baths at The Trocadero (8 p.m., all ages, SOLD OUT); World/Inferno Friendship Society + Mirrors And Wires, Ardmore Assault at First Unitarian Church (7:30 p.m., all ages, SOLD OUT); John Doe + Jill Sobule at Tin Angel (7:30 p.m., 21+, $18)
SATURDAY, MARCH 26
Asobi Seksu performs with Cults and Warm Ghost at 8 p.m. at Kung Fu Necktie; tickets to the 21+ show are $12.
Also playing: The Funeral Pyre + The Secret, Sadgiqacea at Kung Fu Necktie (7 p.m., 21+, $10); Jeffrey Gaines + Tommy Conwell at The Blockley (8 p.m., 21+, $15); Arabrot + Wizard Rifle at JR’s (2 p.m., 21+, $5)
SUNDAY, MARCH 27
Tin Horses + Bronze Float at The M Room (8 p.m., 21+, $5)
Photo by John Vettese
Over here at the Y-Rock Philly Local, we’ve always admired the righteous folk-punk of Upper Darby’s Mischief Brew; an in-studio acoustic performance by frontman Erik Petersen even kick-started our Sessions series some three years ago. So we were psyched to hear the band landed an opening slot at DeVotchKa‘s Electric Factory performance this Thursday, October 21. An exciting bonus for longtime fans: They’ll be joined by original drummer Chris “Doc” Kulp on auxiliary percussion for the evening. When they’re not on the road, the members of Mischief Brew are in the studio working on their next record, tentatively titled The Stone Operation. Petersen sent us this advance cut, “Dallas In Romania.” Among other things, it’s about a certain prime-time soap opera from the 1980s and how it was immensely popular in communist Romania, even though most Western television was banned.