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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Concert review: DeVotchKa

    Out of the “”Little Miss Sunshine”” soundtrack and onto the open road, DeVotchKa brought gypsy-punk power and mariachi flair to the Rialto Theatre on Friday. The eclectic, Denver-based quartet has thus far produced five studio albums that elude categorization and provide an entrancing Eastern/Western synthesis that could easily be the brilliant bastard child of Gogol Bordello and Calexico.

    DeVotchKa’s set was preceded by a brief, low-key show from fellow Denver indie outfit, Crooked Fingers. Spearheaded by the dulcet crooning and strumming of Eric Bachmann (you may have seen him open for Neko Case last October), Fingers played an assortment of folk ballads and country duets that calmed the crowd in preparation for the energetic headliner. The set may have been too calm for its own good, as the back half of the theater turned to conversing over Bachmann’s soft-spoken lyrics. The audience nevertheless gave Crooked Fingers a hearty round of applause as the band bowed and made way for the real show.

    DeVotchKa took the stage with full mariachi flair, dressed in formal black and silhouetted by an ethereal red mist. Vocalist Nick Urata opened hard and drove the band forward with galloping guitar riffs and Wild West whistling amid Devotchka’s heaviest song, “”The Enemy Guns.”” Despite the energy emanating from all on stage, something from the recording was lost in translation, inspiring little audience enthusiasm. Things picked up during the next tune, a speedy, gypsified instrumental that showcased Tom Hagerman’s impressive violin chops and the petite Jeanie Schroder’s bass skills as she wrapped herself within a comically large sousaphone adorned with blue Christmas lights, inciting cheers and laughter from the crowd.

    The band played a variety of peppy gypsy tunes and rhythmic mariachi ballads from across their catalogue, pumping up the docile crowd more and more as the night wore on. Each performer’s myriad talents shone from song to song, and came through crisp and clear over the theater’s booming speakers: Urata wailed with Latin soul as he sampled a variety of acoustic and electric guitars, including a twanging bouzouki; Hagerman plucked his violin cheerily in “”The Clockwise Witness”” before taking on the infectious keyboard part of “”Transliterator;”” Schroder rocked the double bass and sousaphone, dwarfed by her massive instruments, but never overwhelmed by them; and percussionist Shawn King even whipped out a trumpet for the animated chorus of “”We’re Leaving.”” The audience responded fanatically when the looping intro of “”How It Ends”” (the unofficial anthem of “”Little Miss Sunshine””) resounded, and later burst into an awestruck hollering session when a scantily-clad acrobat danced and dangled courageously from a silk ribbon high above the stage to the swelling Slavic instrumental “”C’est ce la.””

    Rialto patrons were finally energized when the band came out for their encore, beginning with a downtempo version of the most adorable song in their repertoire, “”You Love Me.”” Urata took a swig from a giant wine bottle before commencing the final song of the evening, an extended 10-minute version of the insatiable “”Such a Lovely Thing.”” As the band took turns rocking each instrument onstage to its full potential, the crowd clapped in synch and bounced vigorously, all the while hooting and hollering at the stunning musical circus that transpired. Though it had taken a while for the crowd to get into DeVotchKa’s multi-genre groove, all were disappointed when the wild bunch onstage finally rode off into the sunset.

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