When I go to shows, I like to keep myself in the dark about the openers. I suppose I do this in hopes of being utterly surprised. Usually it’s the bad kind of surprise and I find myself, bored and disappointed. For this show, however, both openers nailed it. The first band, Linfinity, was overly loud, strangely energetic, and a treat to watch.
The second, Ha Ha Tonka, was one of the most fun bands I’ve ever seen live. Their name is silly, but their music and presence is out of this world. The first few songs were a bit slow and not my style, but out of nowhere they transformed into a killer jam band. Their last song was an overcrowded party featuring members of the previous band and Murder By Death. Even better? Both bands sound wonderful recorded.
Murder By Death took the stage at 11:00 p.m. to a crowded, hot, dark venue of eager kids. Before they fully took the stage the crowd was wild, throwing their PBR’s in the air and swaying like Adam Turla was already serenading them. The second he did open his mouth, the crowd cheered and the party began.
The first few songs were classic old school Murder by Death and no one enjoyed it as much as the band themselves. They were at home playing their old time favorites. Early in the set Turla announced, “We’re going to play some new songs for a bit.” It’s always exciting to see bands play their new songs live. Though they only played a couple.The crowd knew the words as if these songs were ten years old. They drank, they sang, they smiled. It was a party.
And then started the slew of whiskey songs. “All of our songs are about doomsday or whiskey.” This elicited lots of “fuck yeahs!!!!!” And rightly so.
For the encore, the band slipped off the stage, drank and waited as the crowd screamed louder and louder for their return. When they finally emerged from the dark hallway near the stage, Turla said, “We’re going to play a song from the new record. The one that seems to be getting good responses.” He started the chord and hesitated, but launched right into my favorite off of the new record, “Piece by Piece”.
Murder by Death’s music is dark and serious, yet, seeing them live is a dance party. The band’s music is powerful, captivating, and a blast even when the message is anything except this.
Show took place Sunday May 9th @ the Grog Shop – Cleveland, Ohio