Show Review: Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band @ Royale 12.10.16

by Justine Cowan (Marketing), published January 17th 2017

gdbandCertain albums are made for summer: fun, carefree, relaxing. Others provide a fitting companion to the changing of the leaves and your crumbling motivation as the fall semester gains momentum. Kevin Devine’s latest tour package, anchored by Pinegrove, Petal and Julien Baker, provides the perfect soundtrack to a cozy winter night in, and when the tour hit Royale this December in the middle of a sub-zero wind chill weekend, the timing could not have been more apt. Though Petal doesn’t quite pull on the heartstrings or, more accurately, wrench them open, the way Memphis songwriter Julien Baker does (she was not present for this particular leg of the tour), Kiley Lotz’s vocals had no trouble filling the room. The crowd didn’t seem all too familiar with the material off of 2015’s Shame, but Lotz has an endearing sincerity onstage, and the band’s warm tone was enough to, well, warm up the crowd for New Jersey’s Pinegrove, whose Cardinal has caught the attention of virtually every music publication since its release in February. The five-piece’s debut full length was put out by Run For Cover Records, a label that is no stranger to eager, passionate fans, and it appeared that many in attendance that night had shown up specifically to watch Pinegrove rather than Devine. Carried by a strong crowd response, the band was certainly a highlight of the night, playing almost the entirety of Cardinal as well as an older cut, “Angelina.” Pinegrove’s alt-country sound is made louder and more intense during their live shows, hinting at indie rock or perhaps early emo influences, particularly due to vocalist Evan Stephens Hall’s thoughtful lyrics. Album closer and fan favorite “New Friends” could easily be the next go-to sing-along choice in years to come; it’s hard not to imagine someone strumming an acoustic guitar while everyone yells, “What’s the worst that could happen?” around a fire or a pile of beer cans.

Kevin Devine is an artist who consistently pumps out solid, catchy records but somehow stays under the mainstream radar. This tour was in support of his ninth (yes, ninth) and latest studio album, Instigator, and the set leaned heavily on it. It was a stark contrast to Devine’s previous show in our very own afterHours this past spring, a low-key but fantastic acoustic set played to a somewhat empty venue. This time around, backed by his touring bassist and drummer, collectively referred to as “the Goddamn Band,” Devine exuded energy, focusing on his more upbeat material, though he did open with a solo rendition of acoustic favorite “Ballgame.” The crowd was relaxed and attentive, despite appearing unfamiliar with the new songs. On stage, Devine is warm and funny, with an ease that comes from over a decade of experience. He recounted tales of previous shows in Boston, a few played in venues that no longer even exist, and surprised the audience by inviting Petal’s Kiley Lotz back out for a cover of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” which she absolutely nailed (Devine admitted to getting lost “every time after ‘Mom’s spaghetti’”). Closing with “Cotton Crush” and “Yr Damned Ol’ Dad,” Devine’s music and relaxed demeanor acted as the musical equivalent of a favorite cup of tea before the crowd filed out into the twenty-degree night.

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