Live Review: Kevin Devine @ Theater of Living Arts – December 12th 2015

Back in January, Kevin Devine announced Devinyl Splits, Series One, a year-long project releasing a split single every other month, each with a different artist from the indie rock scene. The first release, which came out in February, featured Matthew Caws of Nada Surf covering Devine’s “Fiscal Cliff” on one side, and Devine covering Nada Surf’s “Inside of Love” on the other. The series has continued throughout the year, with artists such as Meredith Graves (of Syracuse punks Perfect Pussy), Scranton, PA emo rockers Tigers Jaw, and Staten Island indie rockers Cymbals Eat Guitars participating in the volumes released so far. This past weekend, to celebrate the success of the series, Devine staged a series of three shows in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, featuring guest performances from the artists involved.

Since the show started off directly without an opener, the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia was crowded early. The format of the show featured Devine playing several songs, followed by a guest artist, followed by another set from Devine. Backed by his band, The Goddamn Band, he opened the show with “I Used to Be Someone,” the final track off of his 2011 album Between the Concrete and Clouds, followed by “Noose Dressed Like a Necklace” from 2003’s Make the Clocks Move and “Little Bulldozer” from 2013’s Bulldozer. After a solo rendition of “No One Says You Have To” from the latest in the single series, Devine brought on his first guest of the night, Owen (the solo project of Mike Kinsella, of American Football, Joan of Arc, and numerous other Chicago bands). Kinsella played a short set of solo acoustic songs, including his track from the single, “Critical Condition.”

The rest of the night proceeded similarly. Devine and his band returned for another set, performing “Buried By the Buzz,” “Carnival,” and “Another Bag of Bones,” and then were joined by Meredith Graves for her track from the series “Took the Ghost to the Movies” and another new (unnamed) song. Devine performed a solo rendition of his song from the single, “Gießen,” followed by another short set with the Goddamn Band. Then he was joined by Matthew Caws, the two performing Devine’s “Brooklyn Boy” from 2006’s Put Your Ghost To Rest. Caws then performed two solo tracks — Devine’s “Fiscal Cliff” and Nada Surf’s “Blizzard of ’77” — before being rejoined by Devine and The Goddamn Band for two additional Nada Surf tracks, “Inside of Love” and “See These Bones.”

While that might have seemed like a complete show in itself, the night was only half over. The second set opened with Cymbals Eat Guitars performing “Aerobed,” their track from Devinyl Splits No. 4 and several other songs, followed again by another set from Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band. Brianna Collins from Tigers Jaw came out and joined Devine for his song “For Eugene” (from Bulldozer) and then was joined by her Tigers Jaw band mate Ben Walsh for a short set of their songs. The final guest of the night, Jesse Lacey, from Long Island rockers Brand New, joined Devine for a solo acoustic rendition of Devine’s “Cotton Crush” and then was joined by The Goddamn Band for several Brand New songs, “Mene,” “Bought a Bride,” and “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t,” as well as Devine’s “Ballgame.”

Devine and his band closed out the night with two final tracks, a cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium” and a song that many in the audience had been calling out for all night, “Brother’s Blood” (from the 2009 album of the same name). All in all, much like the single series itself, the night was a great success, and we can only hope that Devine decides to tackle a second series. The fifth release in the series, the split with Owen, comes out on Friday (December 18th).