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DeVotchKa, Crooked Fingers @ The Fillmore, 1/30/09

January 31, 2009

In learning a little bit about DeVotchKa before going to this show, I came across their long list of instruments (some which I had to look up because I was unfamiliar), and the fact that they used to be a backing band for burlesque shows. Most notably for me, they used to tour with Dita Von Teese.

The Fillmore is a vastly different scene from a ‘normal’ HRC show. There’s no barrier. There are a few minis nearby with their parents. There is infinitely less black in the attire of everyone involved.

Up on stage is Crooked Fingers, from Denver. The lead singer, Eric Bachmann, was previously in Archers of Loaf, who I vaguely remember from the ’90s. It is very pretty indie rock, the kind you get lost in, which is exactly what I did. The songs just became a big blur. The one thing of interest was watching the drummer play his drums with one hand and shake one of those pepper shaker things with his other hand. I kept thinking, ‘I bet patting his head and rubbing his tummy is a total no brainer for him’.

There was only one guy setting up for the DeVotchKa set. This poor soul was running around getting what looked like 100 different instruments in order, setting out setlists, sheet music, water. I’ve seen ten guys do less.

When the foursome hit the stage, it was evident that seeing DeVotchKa live is the kind of experience that transports you somewhere else. For one song, I was in a David Lynch film. For another, I was in a Mexican cabaret.

It’s as if someone threw a bunch of random instruments in a room, sent the members of the band in there, and told them to make music out of it. How many times do you see a theremin on stage? Or a sousaphone (with blue lights decorating it, no less)? How about a bouzouki? And I have to give a shout out to the Melodica, one of my personal favorites. At times they are joined by a couple of additional strings, and some trumpets.

But the highlight for me would have to be the Slavik Sisters. I had been eyeing an unusual setup at the back of the stage. Essentially, there were some curtains, leaving my inner child going ‘what’s behind the curtain!’. Well, several songs in, a hoop is hooked up to this setup, and we get an aerial hoop performance as a backdrop to the music. It’s good to see they haven’t left their burlesque roots behind. Later on, two girls come out and perform on what are essentially four strips of fabric hanging from the ceiling. It’s something I’ve seen at a Cirque show, but never at The Fillmore. I quite enjoyed it.

The lead singer, Nick Urata, easily switches between English and Spanish, with a style that evokes comparisons to a Spanish Morrissey (which randomly reminds me of this). He occasionally takes a swig from a bottle of wine. The other members of the band blend in with their instruments, especially the woman, who may be the only person in a band who plays two instruments that are bigger than she is (the sousaphone and double bass).

It’s odd to consider that this band is based in Denver; it seems wildly illogical. But perhaps that is part of the charm, like the hit film they did the soundtrack for, Little Miss Sunshine.


How It Ends/Live at Red Rocks:

Aerielists from an old Fillmore show:

OVERALL: 8.5/10
DeVotchKa performance: 9/10
Crooked Fingers performance: 6.5/10
venue (The Fillmore): 9/10
crowd/scene: 8.5/10
value ($25.00/ticket): 9/10
memorable: 8.5/10


  1. i really was worried for the 1-man stage crew… he seemed VERY stressed. 'twas a great performance by Devotchka.. I'm going to link to your posting as you really nailed all the highlights… too bad I missed you….

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