Kevin Devine | 09.20.06

Devine's an endearing front man, and one hell of a lyricist.


The Pageant, St. Louis

I've got a selective memory which means that, once I've decided I like something, I remember I like it. Take music, for example. I may not remember what it sounds like. I may not remember what I like about it. But I'll remember the name and profess my support and admiration.

That's how it was with Brooklyn singer-songwriter Kevin Devine. I first heard something by Devine a few years back on 3wk. Can't tell you what it was called, or what I liked about it, but it stuck with me. So when I saw Devine's name added to the KT Tunstall bill, I was on board.

The promotional push is because Devine's been signed by Capitol; his major-label debut, Put Your Ghost to Rest, is due next month. I've spun the disc a few times and, it's true; I do like it. However, I liked Devine's live show even more.

I'm always looking for comparisons, ways to describe things. The best I came up with for Devine and his band—the Goddamn Band, as Devine introduced them—was this: they're an American indie Shout Out Louds. Despite a bit of a potty mouth and a self-conscious sense of humor, Devine's an endearing front man, and one hell of a lyricist ("If you look under the table/you'll see I'm playing with my knife/slicing stripes into my kneecaps"). Though he's prone to saying too much in between songs, I'd still take that over someone who never addresses the audience.

Devine's set sampled liberally from all of his CDs, the three independent and the forthcoming Capitol release. Some of the songs were prefaced with stories, such as: "This is a song about trying to make out with a girl but you can't because the president keeps starting wars over bullshit." Or this: "This song's called 'Trouble.' It's not the one by Coldplay. It's not the one by Cat Stevens, either. It's the one by Kevin Devine."

As the band played, the stage was bathed in orange and red lights and some extraneous smoke. Except for the small cluster of people on the floor, the crowd was pleasantly attentive but not particularly engaged during this opening set. And thanks to a head cold that sent me home early, this reviewer didn't catch the headliner. But I did see a very promising set from Kevin Devine. I'm a big fan, you know. We go way back…

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