This past sunday I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band at the intimate Brighton Music Hall for the last stop of his fall tour, and it was a goddamn treat. Kevin Devine is the antithesis of the self-pleasing, hedonistic rock star portrayed on the covers of magazines and billboard charts. Devine plays each and every beautifully crafted song from his 7 album arsenal as if it’s his last. Often times throughout his set, his spasmodic swings and jerks of his guitar were reminiscent of the scene from the first Harry Potter movie where Harry is attempting to tame his broom, along with the fact that Devine’s ability to tame the audience is nothing short of magical.
Playing songs like “Nobel Prize” and “She Can See Me” off his recently released, crowd-funded albums, Bubblegum and Bulldozer, along with older fan favorites such as opener “Cotton Crush” and “Another Bag of Bones”, Devine and his backing band didn’t blink throughout their blistering, hour and a half set. Utilizing several props such as an iPhone and a tin can used in songs like “Brother’s Blood” to add a haunting, screech to the already chilling tune, there was nothing off-limits throughout the Brooklyn natives performance. With lyrical content ranging from political protest to lament of lost love, there was also no emotion left untapped by Devine’s uncanny ability to toy with listener’s emotions.
Following the short breath of air Devine and the band received after their extended blues jam within “Brother’s Blood”, Kevin welcomed the entire lineup of opening acts, Now Now, and Harrison Hudson, onto the stage to join him and the Goddamn band in a hilariously tangled six song mashup consisting of “Sweet Child of Mine”, “Round Here”, “Ignition Remix”, “Enter Sandman”, “Stir it Up”, “Lose Yourself” and ultimately finishing with “Stan”. After the opening acts and Devine’s backup band exited the stage at the conclusion of the mega-mashup, the lights dimmed with a lone Devine front and center bearing only his acoustic guitar. What really touched me at this point was that once again, when Devine was the center of attention with all lights on him, he continually thanked everyone on his team for their efforts throughout his career and proved himself to be a selfless, humble man. Closing with the softly spoken “Little Bulldozer” and “Ballgame”, all 476 members of the crowd were once again in complete unison with Devine’s voice and echoed every note, lyric and expression of sincerity.
Kevin Devine might not make Rolling Stone’s list of best live performers in this or any of the coming years, but he doesn’t have to. Putting on one of the highest energy and complete shows I’ve ever seen, all the while staying in character, I can confidently say that not one person could walk away from Brighton Music Hall the night of the 24th not feeling in debt to Devine’s homegrown and humble efforts. If you have the chance to see him perform in the near future, you’d be a fool not to.
By Quinn Slattery