Growing up, my music taste was “diverse,” but there were some bands that always were just outside of what I listened to. Bands that I somehow knew I would love, but I never got around to listening to. Murder by Death was one of those bands. It wasn’t until a few years ago when a new friend excitedly told me about how many times they’d seen them throughout the years. I delved into their music and found myself particularly enjoying their live performance videos. That being said, I was full of excitement walking into the Cedar Cultural Center. The too-chilly-for-September weather was one of the last things on my mind as I perused the merch table and made my way into the crowd.
Right at showtime, openers “Marah in the Mainsail” took the stage. They were an eclectic looking bunch, giving me “White Stripes” but in the 1920s vibes. Their songs had a well balanced mix of bluesy horns, folksy vocals and some *almost* heavy drums and guitar. The crowd bobbed their heads along to the pleasant sound throughout the set.
Next up was “Mutts,” hailing from Chicago. They had some raspy vocals backed with honest, straightforward instrumentals. You could hear the “Murder by Death,” influence in their songs, and it was clear that they were drawing in the crowd with their thoughtful lyrics as the set went on. They finished with a bang and I could feel the anticipation in the room around me.
In the videos I had watched previously, during my “research” into the band I had been missing out on for years, I noticed that lots of the shows they played were at venues with bars. Because of that, lots of fans would buy the band shots of whiskey and by the end of the night, shenanigans would ensue. Since this was an all ages show, that did not happen- but it wasn’t boring by any means.
It was immediately clear that pretty much everyone in the crowd knew nearly every word to every single song played. There was parents, young children, couples, and everything in between- all belting their little hearts out at the Cedar. My favorite parts of the evening were the silly ones. At one point, vocalist Adam Turla broke out into a song about his dog, RoboCop, and it’s immortality. Another great song was “Pizza Party at Gloria Estefan’s House,” which called for lots of crowd interaction and got everyone going, for sure.
Not all the songs were goofy parodies, though, and the set list as a whole spanned both the emotional spectrum and their career. After playing “Comin’ Home,” they left the stage- only to come back for an encore of “Three Men Hanging” and finally finished the night with crowd favorite, “I Came Around.”
Seeing Murder By Death play live is something that I feel like I should have done years ago, and I’m so happy to have finally checked them off of my wishlist here in Minneapolis. I’m already keeping my ear to the ground, ready to jump at getting tickets to whenever I get to see them again.