Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Hot Half Life Rocks Out... To Kevin Devine! ROUND THREE.

I doubt the following statement will come as a surprise to anyone who's read anything I've ever written but I adore Kevin Devine. And I'm not basing this upon the fact that he's cute or charming or the nicest fella in the music industry although he is all of those things. I adored him before I got the chance to see him play live or interview him or even meet him in passing. The fact of the matter is that he's a talented guy who makes music that at once I find incredibly relatable and makes me want to be a better person which isn't an easy feat considering his subject matter relies heavily on coming to terms with his own flaws.

When Kevin announced a solo pre-Lolla show in DeKalb, Illinois at the House Cafe, it wasn't a question whether I was going or not. I was going to be there. Keviin's one of a handful of musicians that missing when they're in my proverbial hood is just not an option and in recent times, Kevin seems to be the one who comes around the most often. (And who comes around the least often? Okkervil River, I'm looking at you, slackers.) The House is by far the smallest venue I've ever seen a national act play in - Virtually a glorified coffee shop, the House can't pack them in like Schuba's, the Bottom Lounge or even the Abbey. I knew it could potentially be an interesting set and doubtlessly an intimate one from the moment I arrived. My favorite bits off of Kevin's Brother's Blood tour were the moments when the Goddamn Band left the stage, leaving Kevin to perform acoustic and as this gig was Kevin on his own, I was quite anxious.

Part of the interesting thing about this show is the fact that Kevin allowed fans to help choose the setlist via e-mail. Out of pre-set bordem, the best friend, Sara, and I wrote Kevin a roughly fifteen song set list featuring Champagne Supernova, Love Is A Battlefield, Dick in a Box and the Dawson's Creek theme song, I Don't Want to Wait. I got to give this to Kevin and the good news is that he appeared to find it quite humorous. The bad news is that I believe he severely doubts my sanity now and the next time I approach him for an interview, he'll probably conveniently have "other commitments".

Myself, Kevin and the oft-mentioned roommate Sara. Is Kevin pleased to be part of the world's most attractive person-sandwich or can he not wait until we leave, dreading the fact that he'll have to encounter us again in the very near future? You be the judge.

Kevin's set was peppered with older material and the nature of the show meant that alot of the acoustic tracks off of Split The Country, Split the Street made an appearance although my favorites were, as always, the songs off his latest release. I Could Be With Anyone was turned into a tongue in cheek, slow paced psuedo-love song and set opener Brother's Blood itself could not sound more different without the Goddamn Band's energy behind it.

Kevin Devine - I Could Be With Anyone (Demo)

Personally, I was particularly happy about the inclusion of A Billion Bees, a gorgeous ballad off of Put Your Ghost To Rest I'd never heard played live before, Carnival, a song I never really appreciated until I heard it played live but has since become one of my favorite K.D. songs, and No One Else's Problem, a fantastic, quick witted break up song that is severely underplayed at Kevin's shows. The favorite, as always, was You'll Only End Up Joining Them. It's a shame this song saw the light of day as an overproduced, alt-country tune on Put Your Ghost to Rest because the solo version, sans lap steel guitar, really lets the hard hitting lyrics and finely crafted melody shine through. Maybe I'm biased because I, as mentioned ad nausea, am quite fond of that Kevin Devine fellow. Or maybe I'm biased because that song hits all sorts of home for me. Regardless, it's a gorgeous song that talks of self-destruction and loss in a powerful way that few 4 minutes songs could ever manage.

I appreciate Kevin Devine as a person.

Kevin returns to Illinois is but a few short months when he'll be doing time as an opener for the Get Up Kids. They'll hit the Metro on October 21st and 22nd, making October almost as an exciting month, concert wise, as August, with shows from David Bazan, Brand New, Manchester Orchestra, Sea Wolf, Great Lake Swimmers and rounds 5 and 6 with Kevin Devine.

What happened to Kevin Devine round 4? Well, friends, that was Lollapalooza! And you can read all about that via my post at Radio Free Chicago.