Monday, May 10, 2010

(Guest Post!) Murder City Devils

Note: Today's itinerant Clatter correspondent is Clint, author of the excellent & always entertaining Fernetiquette.

Murder City Devils
San Francisco, CA
May 7, 2010

I don’t go to shows that often anymore. Unlike this blog’s primary author, I’m not “plugged in” to the “scene”. HOWEVA, I am “friends” with Murder City Devils on “The Facebooks.” This normally means nothing, but a few months ago it meant that I was told exactly when and how to buy advance tickets to the Murder City Devils show this past Friday at Slim’s. At the time they were first available my work situation wasn’t sorted out; I wasn’t sure whether I could afford them.

Then I figured: “Shit dude, buy the tickets now. If you’re unemployed by the time the show rolls around, you can sell them to lazy hipsters for ALL THE MUNNIEZ IN THE WORLD.”

So I bought the tickets. Thank Fucking God, I bought the tickets. And I went to the show. Thank Fucking Satan, I went to the show.

How to explain the phenomenon of Murder City Devils to those who have never experienced them? Wikipedia lists them as a “garage punk band active between 1996 and 2001.” I would argue that this is selling them a bit short. Our Devils are less a “garage punk band” and more “the band from the best party you never went to.”

Murder City Devils are absolutely motherfucking brilliant. They’re like Gang of Four on speedballs or a club rock version of Minor Threat (with a keyboard player.) In short, they’re the perfect mix between dance rock and balls-to-the-wall punk, and by the time I’d joined the battalions of other hipsters / punks / cool kids who had discovered the visceral majesty of this particular Seattle sextet, they had already fucking broken up. Before last weekend, they had played all of one show in San Francisco in the last 9 years. Basically, I never thought I’d get a chance to catch MCD live.

In other words, I was kinda excited to see them. KINDA!

Since 95% of Murder City Devils’ songs are about getting fucked up drunk, the lady and I got fucked up drunk before the show. It was better that way, and we weren’t the only ones. For the record, they do serve Fernet at Slim’s, though I was wayyyy too drunk to remember what a shot cost.

The band is fronted by the slight, bespectacled Spencer Moody. Spencer Moody (or “Howlin’ Spencer Moody”, as he apparently prefers) is a tiny, bearded man with the lungs of a Viking. He is part vocalist, part force of nature. The first time you listen to MCD, you will probably think “Man, this band would be the biggest thing ever if their singer could actually, ya know… sing.” You will be forgiven for thinking this, even though you will be gloriously incorrect. Moody’s cheese-grater snarl is half of what gives this band its edge. His voice is what separates something pure and thrilling like Murder City Devils from those accessible but terribly average bands like The Killers or The Strokes.

The other thing that makes Murder City Devils truly special is the quality of its backbone. Coady Willis (Big Business, The Melvins, Dead Low Tide) is quite literally one of the best drummers alive. Every snare hit is like a gunshot. Every floor tom is like the rolling tide. The man is a goddamned machine. Hearing him on record is striking. Hearing him live is a religious experience.

Then… there’s the organist. MCD would be an awesome band without the keyboard player, but adding it makes them as close to perfect as you would ever want them to get. Which, frankly, is not very close at all.

Anyway, back to the show. I gotta say, I was too blasted to take too many notes. For the most part, they played the songs I expected them to play. I have a few minor quibbles. For example, they didn’t play “Left Hand Right Hand” or “Boom Swagger Boom.”

Outside of a few setlist issues, most had few complaints. The painted, black-clad crowd pulsed and writhed, whipped into an absolute frenzy by the band’s manic, controlled sexual energy. Half the kids were dancing, half the kids were moshing, half the kids were heavy petting in the corner. Everyone got drunk. Everyone got laid.

In short, it was everything you could ever want from a rock and roll show. Highest recommendation.

MCD-Rum to Whiskey mp3

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