This Halloween I saw what must be among the greatest shows of the evening worldwide: DeVotchKa’s performance. (The crowd’s costuming was a performance in itself.) The production was not nearly as extravagant as it was last year, as two nights at the Boulder Theater replaced one large performance in Denver last year. But this is not a band that needs props, given Nick Urata’s sonorous energy, Tom Hagerman’s virtuoso musicianship (he is a symphony-caliber violinist), Shawn King’s intricate and precise percussion, and Jeanie Schroder’s steady bass and tuba lines. (Actually it’s a sousaphone.)
I don’t know who does the heavy writing — I suppose Urata and Hagerman — but this band has created some very fine music. I recall going to see another local band some years ago and seeing DeVotchKa in the lineup by accident; it’s the only group of the evening that I remember. Then came “How It Ends” and the film “Little Miss Sunshine,” for which the band provided the music. And this local band has made it big, perhaps surprising given its eccentricity.
I wasn’t sure I’d like the band’s new album quite as well, based on my iTunes sampling of “A Mad and Faithful Telling.” But I picked up a copy at the concert (for a mere $10 — modern technology is extraordinary), and so far I’ve listened to it a half dozen times or so. It is a great album. I don’t recognize singles as rousing as the older songs “Death By Blonde” or “The Enemy Guns” — there seems to be less raucous guitar — but the album is marked by sophisticated and heartfelt music. I like DeVotchKa’s first album, and the other three studios are favorites of my collection.
On stage, Urata said he wished the audience could see the world through his eyes. At least we can hear the world as he hears it.