The Devil Makes Three Performs at the State Theatre
The Devil Makes Three returned to the State Theatre in Portland Maine this weekend and was joined by two other bands. The first opener, Roebuck, is a husband and wife duo based out of Norfolk, VA. Phoenix and Phillip Roebuck’s high energy evokes hoots, hollers and of course foot stomping. Phillip, with his busking and one-man band experience, sings original songs and plays resonator guitar, kick drum and stomp board. Phoenix plays bass and adds vocals.
I met the touring photographer who is good friends with Phillip. He told me how Phillip was in an alternative rock band in the 90s and was signed by a label, but when all of the labels condensed and merged, Phillip’s band was left behind. Shortly after that, Phillip began busking in the New York subways and experimenting as a one-man band. Nowadays, the bass drum is no longer on his back, but prominently right in front of him.
The second opening act, bloomed from what once was another husband and wife duo known as Brown Bird. MorganEve Swain and husband Dave Lamb even opened up for The Devil Makes Three at the State Theatre in 2012. Early the following year, Brown Bird went on hiatus after Dave was diagnosed with leukemia. He later succumbed to the disease in April of 2014.
MorganEve Swain began recording music at home layering multiple tracks of strings and vocals. Swain’s music is used as an outlet to explore the grief of her loss. You hear the sadness in their music as soon as they begin to play. The minor keys and melancholy harmonies create a powerful emotion in the music. The Huntress and Holder of Hands is a 5-musician band, including cello, string bass, electric bass, voice and drums, with Swain primarily on five-string viola and guitar. At one point during their set, Swain explained that she was once a part of the band known as “Brown Bird” and she was going to play some of their music. She corrected herself and said, “My music.” After the first few notes, the crowd recognized the familiar sound of “Bilgewater”.
The headliners, The Devil Makes Three, came out on stage to a deep droning instrumental and low lighting. They opened up with “Chained to the Couch” which slowly glides into the lyrics with finger picking and subtle bass notes. Joining the trio on stage this time was a fiddle player and drummer. Although born in New England, the trio formed in Santa Cruz, California. It is always a treat to have them back in the Northeast.
The Devil Makes Three played many favorites including Hallelu, Graveyard, Drunken Hearted Man, and Old Number 7. Another highlight was Lucia taking lead vocals on a cover Steve Earle’s “Hometown Blues”. Towards the end of the set, lead man, Pete Bernhard told the people sitting on the balcony that he would have them all dancing before the end of the set. He then stepped in front of the microphone and walked out onto an extension of the stage and began playing “Worse or Better”. A mosh pit opened up behind me and needless to say, the balcony came to life.
The encore began with the fiddle player flawlessly playing classical style music that morphed into “Bangor Mash”. The Devil Makes Three gave the crowd one more song and ended the night with “Do Wrong Right” with the crowd singing along.
For a full set list and links to each band, scroll to the bottom of this page. As always, thanks for reading and go see live music as much as you can.