As part of Brooklyn Bowl’s ongoing attempt to raise money to benefit the natural disaster victims of Haiti, Kevin Devine teamed up with New York radio station 101.9 RXP to offer a free show. All donations went directly to Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Foundation and 25% of Devine’s merch sales went to Doctors Without Borders. To encourage donations, Devine offered a free download of his new record with Manchester Orchestra to anyone who donated at least $5 to the cause.
Scott Matthew, joined by Clara Kennedy, opened the evening. The duo performed acoustic cuts for about twenty-five minutes, trading extremely impressive vocal harmonies throughout the set’s duration. “Tonight You Belong to Me”, a 1920s pop song made famous through the years by a number of artists (including Fiona Apple recently), received excellent treatment. The two seemed awkward and somewhat out-of-place on stage, but there is no denying Kennedy’s amazing vocal abilities. Matthew and Kennedy closed their set with a splendid cover of Frank Loesser’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”.
The five-piece Linfinity provided direct support for Kevin Devine. The band’s eight-song set was enjoyable but not groundbreaking, even with an electric violinist adding interesting riffs to the song’s fairly standard structures. A slide guitar spiced up “Seesaw Love”; “Choo Choo Train to Venice” was exciting and groove-based. The lyrics and style seemed to indicate a country-influence, and for the final song, “MSG”, the lead guitarist even switched to a mandolin. The full set:
Choo Choo Train to Venice
Molly Mar of Rome
Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band — a six-piece lead by Devine and rounded out by two additional guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, and keyboardist Brian Bonz — opened with Put Your Ghost to Rest‘s “Burning City Smoking”, updating the lyrics to reflect the changing political issues since the song’s original 2006 release. “Yr Husband” followed, with Devine slamming through the song’s jolted chords.
The alliteration-laced “Go Haunt Someone Else” sounded great; Bonz beat-boxed the intro to Devine’s latest single, “I Could Be With Anyone”, which received great live treatment. The trippy “Carnival” begs for a live environment, and Devine and the Goddamn Band nailed the song.
Kelly Pratt joined the band to play trumpet on “Fever Moon”, sticking around to also provide the blaring brass to an excellent romp of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Holland 1945”. Rarely seen “You Are the Daybreak” proceeded a fiery performance of “Cotton Crush”. Jam-heavy “Brother’s Blood” closed the schedule setlist; Devine and the band returned moments later for an encore of “Just Stay”. The full set, which equally balanced new songs with his back-catalog:
Burning City Smoking
Go Haunt Someone Else
I Could Be With Anyone
Another Bag of Bones
Buried By the Buzz
Holland 1945 (Neutral Milk Hotel cover)
You Are the Daybreak
The Only One (Manchester Orchestra cover)
The night was an absolute success, with more than two thousand dollars raised for charity. Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band sounded great across their varied fourteen-song setlist; a cover of Neutral Milk Hotel goes over extremely well in Williamsburg. With such an extensive and formidable catalog, Devine’s set will always feature glaring omissions; still, the singer-songwriter did well to include a little bit of everything throughout the show making the night not only rewarding but exceptionally enjoyable.
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