Nothing Was Going To Stop Minneapolis From Celebrating 20 Years of Murder By Death

March 12, 2020 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Murder By Death live in concert at The Cedar Cultural Center along with Amigo The Devil as the opener. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

I feel like yesterday wasn’t a good day for anyone. It was cancellation after cancellation for everything from school to sports to concerts. I honestly couldn’t take scrolling through my social media feeds due to how many concerts and tours were being cancelled. I understand the precautions but, as a live show junkie, my heart sank with every new post so after work I went straight to my room and fell asleep for a couple of hours hoping it had all just been a terrible nightmare. It wasn’t. I woke up to a clear schedule for this weekend and a dwindling concert calendar for the next month. My heart broke but I knew I still had last night’s show and I wasn’t going to miss it. The streets were eerily quiet as were the sidewalks leading to see Murder By Death at The Cedar Cultural Center but, as soon as I got inside, I was able to take a deep breath when I realized that hundreds of other people weren’t going to let this pandemic stop them from living their lives either and, just like that, all was well in my world.

Kicking the night off was Amigo the Devil (also known as Danny, also know as the “fat Dave Grohl” (his words, not mine), also known as many other names he responds to). Thursday night’s show was my third time seeing this musical genius and to say I was excited would be an understatement. His voice is absolutely beautifully flawless, his personality is brighter than any stage light, and his words are dark and rooted in a world of serial killers. You could call him a bit of a niche performer but, given the response he got from the packed audience last night, he is breaking through that niche and quickly becoming a name for the masses. Although the world was in a serious mood yesterday, Danny gave us all a bright spot in the day with the jokes he cracked between nearly every song and his beautiful music.

Danny is a true story teller with his words regardless of how realistic those words may be. He makes sure that you hear and understand every word of his set and does it with such a sense of conviction and passion that it’s impossible to just shrug him off as he performs. As mentioned, he sings about dark things and serial killers seem to be his favorite topic. That darkness blends with his dark voice in the most perfect way and his energetic and friendly demeanor juxtaposes that darkness in the best way possible. Can you tell that I loved everything about his set? I’m not the only one. Between the people who cheered between songs and those who were singing along and partaking in the audience participation moments he had scattered throughout his set, it was clear that everyone who had made it out last night found it to be well worth the trek. 

Although Amigo the Devil was amazing last night, he wasn’t the only reason for the packed audience. Thursday night’s show was the celebration of 20 years in the business for Murder By Death. Every one of this band’s eight full lengths, five EP’s and smattering of singles is genius. This Indiana born band has a sound and vibe all of their own and it’s one of those things that you either love or hate and I, for one, absolutely love it. Their music and style is a big old-timey from the formal clothes they wear on stage to the black and white videos that often play behind them as they play but their sound is anything but old. Sure, there are aspects of their music that seem to be from days gone by and vocalist Adam Turla has something about him that makes him feel like a bit of an old soul but what they are doing as a band is highly innovative, modern, creative, and, well, amazingly perfect.

Their set had to have been over twenty songs long full of tracks that spanned almost the entirety of this group’s impressive life. There were some nostalgia soaked tracks, some new songs, and some songs that I honestly don’t think I had ever heard before. The subject matter for majority of Murder By Death’s songs revolves around dark things like the devil but, like Amigo The Devil, the way they present it makes it feel a bit brighter than the obviously dark subject matter. That’s something that drew me into this band in the beginning. I love the stark contrast between the instrumentation and typically infectious beats with the dark and almost sinister words of their music. Regardless of what song they were performing and what album it was from, the energy in the room was excited and full of life which is what I think we all needed after the anxiety inducing day that was yesterday. Much like during Amigo the Devil’s set everyone in the room seemed truly captivated by the performers on the stage which was the perfect distraction that we all desperately needed yesterday. 

I want to thank the staff at The Cedar Cultural Center, the staff at First Avenue (it was a First Avenue show hosted at the Cedar), the musicians, and the fans for making last night feel like a normal night while taking various precautions to make sure everyone stays healthy.