Devils’ music

Seattle’s Murder City Devils bid a fond farewell to diehard Chico fans

IN THE FLESH Lead singer Spencer Moody commands center stage as the Murder City Devils perform for a hungry mob of Brick Works fans for the last time.

IN THE FLESH Lead singer Spencer Moody commands center stage as the Murder City Devils perform for a hungry mob of Brick Works fans for the last time.

photo by Tom Angel

Murder City Devils, Botch, American Steel
Brick Works, Oct. 29, 2001

As the rain dripped snot outside, hundreds of black-decked teenagers and young tattoo fans from as far away as Sacramento assembled inside the Brick Works to say goodbye to one of their favorite bands, the Murder City Devils.

The Devils, who took the stage to a swirling mass of fans around 10, feature a road-tested style that mixes motorbilly punk and surf stylings (a bludgeoning bottom-line bass and haunted house organ) with straight-ahead punk. Lead vocalist Spencer Moody, a bespectacled figure with a mop of blond hair, captivated the fist-waving audience from the get-go as he belted out songs and swung the metal microphone stand like a chalice.

“We’ve always had a good time in Chico. Thanks so much for coming out,” he told the crowd. This was the Devils’ last performance in California before it disbands in favor of various side-projects.

The group blasted through most of the songs off its latest Sub Pop EP, Thelema, with a furious six-member sound that recalled influences of the Birthday Party, the Fleshtones, the Ramones and an inverted Fugazi. The Devils are all about an ominous seriousness in their music—a sort of dark brand of hard-edged rock that mixes high energy with lyrical wailing about hard times, abandonment, certain themes of violence, and whatever else sounds cool to them. Songs that sound like anthems for kids burning themselves with Bic lighters in the 7-Eleven parking lot. But overall tonight was about a decent bar band saying goodbye to loyal fans.

Opening with “Bear Away,” the group emphatically tore through a vigorous 70-minute set of minor-chord favorites like “Idle Hands” and slow-paced new numbers like “Midnight Service at the Mutter Museum.” It closed with an extended “Broken Glass” merging into the fast-paced “One Vision of May.” No encore was necessary after such a sweat-filled set, plus the band was probably saving something for its final gigs in the Northwest. Those looking for the quintessential MCD album should check out Sup Pop’s Empty Bottles Broken Hearts (1998).

Openers American Steel laid down some unremarkable, standard bar rock before a another group called Botch tore up the stage with its own huff-and-puff mix of growling, mouthbreather metal that recalled a distilled mix of Korn, Clutch, Limp whatever and a hundred other derivative, chest-thumping teen bands. But, like the Devils, they showed the kids a good time. So all was well tonight at the “all-ages” show—which designation, I should add, now means that 21-and-over patrons can drink only in Panama’s or U-Bar. Too many kids fighting and trying to sneak upstairs for alcohol, promoter Justin Maximov tells me.

Fans of furious rock like the MCD should not miss the Hives, who open for International Noise Conspiracy at the Brick in early December.