New Year’s Eve is more than people transforming into cartoon versions of drunks or Auld Lang Syne being painfully belted out by that idiot that forgot the words. It’s about celebrating the start of a new year. The band DeVotchKa made it worth dealing an intoxicated crowd in exchange for a dream like performance.
The Denver based musicians have gone from being the backing band for local burlesque shows to scoring soundtracks to the films Little Miss Sunshine, Crazy Stupid Love, and Paddington. A few years ago they even arranged the music for the Denver production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (thankfully Johnny Depp did not take part in their production). Recently, they composed the music for the Netflix series Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events with Neil Patrick Harris singing the theme song. DeVotchKa has returned from their side projects with a strong new album entitled This Night Falls Forever. About one-third of the material performed on their second night at the Bluebird Theatre’s New Year’s Eve celebration was from the new album.
The audience was dressed in festive attire with plastic hats and feather headbands supplied by the venue. Music begun while the band members Tom Hagerman (violin, accordion), Jeanie Schroder (sousaphone, bass), and Shawn King (drums) let the music build just in time for lead singer Nick Urata to join them on stage. The set list contained older songs such as the theatrical 100 Other Lovers and gypsy punk Head Honcho mixed in with material from This Night Falls Forever. The Psychedelic Furs cover Love My Way brought a smile to the couple next to me that must have remembered the 1982 song fondly. A video screen in the background projected different lights and imagery throughout the night. I was thrilled DeVotchKa played my favorite song from the new album Straight Shot – “I can draw a straight line/Through my mind/Right back to the good times/Back when all the stars were aligned/Before all the paperwork got signed.”
Security came into the middle of the audience to make room for aerialists The SlaVic Sisters. The scantily clad women performed acrobatics above the crowd while spinning from a rope to the song Let Me Sleep. The band came back to finish with the appropriately titled How It Ends followed by Such a Lovely Thing with Urata shouting, “You Only Love Me When I’m Leaving.”
Boulder’s own The Sweet Lillies were the opening band. They describe their sound as “High energy, progressive, original Americana music.” They were dressed for the holiday in fringe and sequins making the audience know it was going to be a special night. The only song they repeated from the previous night was A lighter Hue. Upright bass player Julie Gussaroff confessed they had to play it again because it’s the title track from their new album. Banjo player Charlie Rose from Elephant Rival dressed up in a tie (fancy) and local guitar legend Michael Kirkpatrick wearing striped pants (even fancier) sat in with the Trio. Proving there aren’t enough hip-hop viola players Becca Bisque did an impressive rap. Melly Frances made it even more of a party with her washboard and kazoo playing. They ended with Phil Collins’ 1981 classic I Can Feel It in the Air Tonight starting the night’s trend of 80’s covers.
See you at the next show. I’ll be scantily clad hovering above the crowd playing the washboard.