The audience at the Commodore Ballroom last Tuesday did not stand a chance at feeling 100 percent the next day. “It’s better to be hungover on their time than yours,” said Wyatt Hesemeyer, frontman of openers Miss Lonely Hearts, as he urged the crowd to not think about work and instead spend the night dancing and drinking their hearts out.
Representing a genre identified with foot-stomping and boozing, both the Devil Makes Three and their fellow Santa Cruz country rockers served concertgoers exactly what they came for.
Miss Lonely Hearts were entirely impressive with their NorCal rockabilly energy radiating across the dance floor. And upright bassist Mischa Gasch truly understood the relationship between the strings and the man as he danced along with the instrument.
For the Devil Makes Three‘s portion of the night, they set a hard-hitting ragtime tone with a cover of the coalmining classic “Sixteen Tons”. There’s nothing like a honky-tonk show to make you forget about the dullness of a work week. Some couples tried to risk two-stepping, but moshing and ice cube-filled glasses on the floor prevented any proper dancing. “Gracefully Facedown” hit home with the concertgoers bouncing along with Lucia Turino, and “Bangor Mash” brought out frontman and guitarist Pete Bernhard’s swashbuckling swagger.
As the group made their way through the last quarter of their set, audience members started murmuring: “Is this ‘Old Number 7’“? “They better play ‘Old Number 7’.” Hands down the band’s most beloved song, from their very first album, the tribute to Jack Daniel’s whiskey and its magical power over man was the highlight of the evening. “Thank you, Jack Daniel’s Old Number Seven / Tennessee whiskey got me drinking in Heaven / Angels start to look good to me / They’re going to have to deport me to the fiery deep,” sang Bernard as he plucked at his guitar.
“Stranger”, the title-track from the Devil Makes Three’s last album, I’m a Stranger Here, is one of those songs that has a better life in front of an audience than on a record. Commodore attendees wailed along with Bernhard, and a tall fan in overalls stomped his right leg as hard as possible throughout the entire song in a way that can only be described as like the cast of the Coen brothers’ film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
The two groups stayed in Vancouver for a second show at the Commodore the next night and are continuing on their winter tour to their home state of California, bringing out the country in everyone at each stop they make. The Devil Makes Three has fans calling for a new album and replaying their old songs over and over again. In short, Wednesday’s hangover was well worth it.