DeVotchKa at First Avenue – 2/13/2016


Colordao band DeVotchKa take their name from the Russian word from girl and have been at it for almost 20 years. In their early days they worked a backing band for burlesque shows and their music still embraces the dramatic seductiveness. DeVotchKa played the well-attended First Avenue Saturday night.

Opening the evening was Duluth’s Superior Siren. The trio made up of Laura Sellner – Vocals, Guitar, Rachel Gobin – Cello and Emma Deaner – Drums describe themselves as Folk Creep. The instruments may be folk, but they are rocking them like it’s nobody’s business. It was the first time the group played the legendary venue (and the first time at all for one of them) and they were clearly excited. The crowd was excited to see them judging the how many had come early for the opener. I really enjoyed the combination of the cello proving a haunting foundation, the drums soft but driving, and Sellners vocals. Her voice had me thinking “Folksy Amy Winehouse”. Overall a great set by a cool band that I need to find out more about.
Set List: Swamp Creature \ Cracked Hands \ Rattlesnake \ Leone \ Reel \ Lonesome Hunter \ Alive \ Trying too Hard \ Rosemar \ Lost

DeVotchKa took the darkly lit stage and kicked off with “Basso Profundo” complete with an LED lit Sousaphone rocked in high heels. The gypsy vibe quickly drew in the audience and set the tone for the evening. I loved singer Nick Urata’s beat up acoustic guitar – I am a sucker for instruments with character. The group is truly multi-instrumental with each member playing at least 2-3 instruments through the show. The back wall showed a video feed of the band playing intermixed with graphics. Some of the songs had long instrumental portions with the majority of lyrics being variations of “Ohhhh Uhhh” which were masterfully worked in. I had no idea a total of 4 letters would be expressed in so many ways. A cover of Bob Dylan’s “House of the Rising Sun” had the crowd singing along. Looking at the fans, I noticed a ton of wide smiles and quite a few dancers. Drummer Shawn King brought out the trumpet and gave a south of the border note to “We’re Leaving Dude”.

The last song of the set was fittingly “How it Ends” but DeVotchKa was far from done – for the encore they brought out a group of 3 stunning aerialists that performed at head level above the crowd to the tune of “Venus in Fur”. In well over 100 shows I have covered at First Avenue I have never seen such a spectacle. The crowd parted around them and the expressions of joy and delight on their faces as they watched the performance was priceless. Closing with 2 more songs DeVotchKa released their fans into the chilly night with a smile on their face and warmth in their hearts.

Set List: Basso Profundo \ Along \ Sand and Sea \ Curse your Little \ Silly Boy \ We’re Leaving Dude \ Honcho \ 100 Lovers \ Sebastian \ Contrabanda \ Clockwise \ House of the rising Sun (Bob Dylan Cover) \ Enemy Guns \ How it ends Encore: Venus in Furs (Velvet Underground Cover) \ Stand by me (Ben E. King Cover) \ Ranchero