Last Friday I was left bruised, sweaty and perhaps a bit bloody. I had jumped, pushed and fought my way through the music at the Roseland Theater—swept up in the fiery movement of the Murder City Devils, reunited and just as strong as ever.
Online exclusive: The passion of the Devils
Last Friday I was left bruised, sweaty and perhaps a bit bloody. I had jumped, pushed and fought my way through the music at the Roseland Theater—swept up in the fiery movement of the Murder City Devils, reunited and just as strong as ever. At that moment I wasn’t in Portland, and it wasn’t 2010.
I was a teenager at the time, wandering the streets of Olympia, Wash., the hyped realm of Northwest punk legends. The 90s were winding down, and America was leaving the burst of passionately distorted indie music behind. But I found the essence and soul of that music wasn’t dying off; rather, it merely went home to the underground communities that were its family—in the spirit of Eddie Spaghetti, it went to bring forth bands like the Murder City Devils.
The Backstage was a performance space literally on the stage of the Capitol Theater. It was there I saw my first show in Olympia. A group called The Bangs opened things up superbly, leading into another band that too would go on to popularity, The Tight Bros. From Way Back When.
Headlining was the Murder City Devils, with only one album out and a sophomore attempt shortly on its way. They drew a crowd that would make a fire marshal weep and shook the inner walls of the theater, all before setting their organ on fire. In the years to come, they wouldn’t show any signs of losing that spirit.
But as many bands do, they broke up at the height of their success—however, briefly, and eventually but sparsely playing shows. Years later a friend would come to me speaking of a band he saw on stage. For the first time, he told me, he felt he experienced rock ‘n’ roll in its purest form. The Devils had reunited.
The Devils haven’t lost the fortitude of their craft. They bring just as much ardor to their music as they always have. Starting the show off with “Press Gang,” they ran through favorites such as “Rum to Whiskey” and “I Want a Lot Now (So Come On).”
The band also offered a surprise to delight fans and played a couple as-of-yet unfamiliar songs implying that new material may very well be on its way. The new songs were more reflective of the band’s last EP, Thelema, which itself built upon the Devil’s grittier format, adding more melodic drive from the guitars and branching out beyond strict punk riffs.
The new material also furthered singer Spencer Moody’s lyrical flairs of mystery and thrill. If the band is not merely teasing us, and a new album is on the horizon, that album could very well embody the next inclement in their musical progression—much the way each previous album has done.
The Murder City Devils have certainly come to fix themselves among other Northwest legends of rock. They provide today the same ripping drive that made them so well known, not losing a single ounce of fervor.