It was March 12th of 2020 that I last saw Murder By Death and Amigo The Devil. Does that date sound familiar? It should because it was the day that the world changed. It was the last show for many people in the music industry up here in the Twin Cities before the world shut down for what felt like forever. My whole life changed that night for the worst (or at least that’s how it felt at the time) and that formed a bit of a love/hate relationship with Murder By Death for me. Obviously, I know that it’s not their fault that the live music industry came to a screeching halt after I saw them but I just associated their music with that terrifying moment. Long story short, I was an emotional wreck as I walked into First Avenue with my boyfriend and good friends by my side. Was I going to completely lose it and have a breakdown or just stand there and enjoy the genius that was all three acts on the bill?
The beautiful and highly talented Samantha Crain was the first to grace the legendary stage on Friday night. Hailing from Oklahoma, her voice seemed quiet and almost timid when compared to the roaring conversations happening throughout the venue. I hated how it felt like a struggle to even hear Samantha’s words but those moments where I did hear them clearly was pure bliss. She didn’t seem to mind the conversations happening in the club and plugged away at her set without hesitation which I truly appreciated. Whether you listened to her set or not, you noticed her at one point or another and it made you stop everything and just listen if only for a few seconds. There was a sense of darkness in her voice and lyrics that made her the perfect fit for what was to come through the night but I truly just wish she would have had a bit more power or a bit more command over the audience. Regardless, she caught my attention and I will be anxiously awaiting the chance to see her in a more intimate space where she can truly shine.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen Amigo the Devil live but seeing him live will never get old and I will continue to go back and see him as many times as he comes through or I can possibly catch him. Danny Kiranos (aka Amigo the Devil) has a very distinct style and vibe. With dark and almost obscene lyrics matched with more folksy instrumentation and a charming smile, his music is sometimes hard to explain just right and, when trying to explain it to people, I typically just give up and play them a song. Amigo the Devil has a bit of a cult following but, once you see him and his amazing band perform live, you understand why. Although the lyrics are dark and mostly about death, serial killers, and other similar topics, there’s something super fun and approachable about Danny as a performer. The way he jokes to his infectious smile which edges on the line of being creepy at times, it’s impossible to stand there and listen to his songs and stories without a smile creeping across your face and a few laughs along the way.
Amigo the Devil’s songs are all stories when it comes down to it. Even the hilarious song about being high on edibles and calling his mom to say that she would be proud of him (listen to the song to hear about his mom’s reaction) came with a sense of heart and passion but my favorite story attached to a song that he gave the audience on Friday was the story behind “I Hope Your Husband Dies” (I warned you that his songs were dark). Before playing the song, Danny explained that he had written this song for his best friend. If you couldn’t tell from the title, the chorus revolves around not being jealous but just hoping that he really messes up. Long story short, the man that Danny’s friend had just married actually… well, just go see Amigo the Devil and ask him to tell the story because me just writing it down doesn’t have the same chutzpah as seeing Danny explain it all.
As mentioned, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the act that headlined on Friday night, Murder By Death, but it’s not their fault. Their music just seems to take me back to that terrifying night in March when I literally saw my life falling apart. I had that in mind as they took the stage and I got comfortable in my normal spot for the show but, as soon as they jumped into their hour and twenty-minute song, any distaste for the band fell to the wayside instantly. Much like Amigo the Devil, Murder By Death is a confusing band because their music is fun but their lyrics are dark creating a super interesting and quite amazing vibe. Fronted by Adam Turla, there’s something old-timey about their sound and overall stage presence that I find truly intriguing and addicting. It’s not like they are trying to be old souls but that’s how it always comes across and Friday night was no different.
Although they just released a new album earlier this year, they didn’t focus in on it and gave the audience some oldies but goodies with some of the new tracks thrown in. I’m not a die-hard Murder By Death fan so I couldn’t tell you if their song selection was perfect or not but I could tell by my boyfriend’s face (who happens to be a huge fan) that they didn’t play a single bad song throughout their lengthy set. From moments of pure power to songs that were drenched in heart and soul, Murder By Death did an amazing job of giving the audience a little bit of everything they had to offer. I’m not sure what their reception is like in other places across the country but it was clear that Minneapolis was loving it and the band was loving the response. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and after a short encore, the band left and the house lights came on but I honestly could have stood there for a few more hours just enjoying the music and overall atmosphere.
Friday night’s show was a bit of a redemption song for me. I really can not stress how emotional I felt as I was catapulted back to that fateful day in March of 2020 with the sounds blaring through the speakers but also how good it felt to hear that sound again. I didn’t have a complete breakdown but I could feel all of the emotions hitting me all at once throughout the night which was just the icing on the cake to a beautiful night of music.