I went to last night’s show because I was intrigued. With shows being a bit slower than usual, I’ve found myself going to anything that I think may be interesting and, with a band name like The Devil Makes Three– well, I was sold. So I bundled up and ventured out into the arctic tundra that is Minneapolis. I honestly regretted my decision as soon as I stepped out the front door and found it was hard to catch my breath because it was just so cold but I had committed.
When I entered First Avenue, I was greeted with a pretty modest crowd. I wasn’t that surprised what with how cold it was and how crappy the roads were (we currently having a nice layer of ice under a nice layer of snow creating a very nice commute wherever you go). I went towards the stage and claimed my normal spot near the barrier next to the stage but off to the side and waited for something to happen. Honestly, I didn’t know what was going to happen nor did I care, I just wanted a show.
Roebuck kicked off the show promptly at 8:30. The duo took the stage and I would be lying if I said I was excited when I realized that they were just a duo. I was in the mood for a band, for a show, for excitement. No matter how good a duo is, they are rarely able to make their set feel like a full band but I was trying to be optimistic as the husband and wife duo took their spots on the stage. The Norfolk, VA based pair wasted no time and jumped right into what would be a beautiful set of bluegrass tunes.
With wife Phoenix Roebuck on the upright bass and husband Phillip Roebuck on guitar, there was a true chemistry that was impossible to ignore throughout their set. It was more than just the way their voice matched each other with a sense of precision that was more than impressive. It was more than the way the two seemed to balance each other out musically. The chemistry that had me struck was the chemistry between a husband and wife that both just love music and that was more beautiful than the music. You could see the connection and the sparks flying as they took sharp glances at each other to make sure they were on the same page. It was truly magical.
Although the two weren’t able to pull off the whole “let’s make this feel like a full band” thing that I had wanted, I spent their set with my eyes glued to the stage and my ears open. Sure, it’s no surprise that bluegrass isn’t quite my thing but the way they were playing it with such feeling and emotion was more than enough to have me sold on their set.
Closing out the night was The Devil Makes Three– I mean, that name was more than enough to have me sold on this show. With five full length, a re-release, and a couple of live albums, TDM3 is definitely not a new band if you’re in the bluegrass scene but, for me, they were brand spanking new and I was more than excited to see what they were all about. Hailing from Santa Cruz, California, the four piece wasted no time taking the stage and jumping into what would turn out to be a lengthy twenty one song set followed by a two song encore.
TDM3’s music is a bit old-timey bluegrass. It’s music that seems to have come from a simpler time yet it has a sense of being current and modern. I watched in amazement as the members plucked and played through the extensive set. Upright bassist Lucia Turino was impossible to stop watching. The way she would pluck and slap the upright bass with such a sense of precision was mesmerizing yet she had this sense of being very “go with the flow” as she smiled between songs and sang along with everyone else on stage. Singer/ guitarist Pete Bernhard has a very southern twang to his voice that, although it wasn’t overwhelming or distracting, it was impossible to ignore. It gave the music an almost country feel to it but his guitar playing made the music lean more towards the folk side of things. Throw in a banjo, violin, and minimalist drumming and you have a TDM3– a band that you can’t quite classify as anything other than unique and interesting.
TDM3’s set was a great mix of originals and covers. Their original material seemed to blend in perfectly with the select covers they did including songs by Steve Earle, Robert Johnson, and more. The lines of music seemed to dance through the now nearly sold out venue in the same way the audience was dancing through the set. Although bluegrass music isn’t my scene, I quickly found myself getting lost in the mob of people who were spinning their partner’s round and round and just bouncing along to the music. I loved every second of it and even though TDM3’s set was lengthy, it seemed like it was over as soon as it had started and I was shuffling back out into the arctic tundra.
No, I don’t see myself trading in the moshpits for some line dancing and I’ll always take a guitar over a banjo but there was something special about last night that I absolutely loved. Go to your local venue’s website, find a band name that intrigues you, and go to the show. I can’t promise that you’ll love it but I can promise that it’ll be an experience!