Devi | 01.06 | New York

By Team JamBase Feb 1, 2010 12:50 pm PST

Words by: Alan Young | Images by: Sirelo Entertainment

Devi :: 01.06.10 :: Sullivan Hall :: New York, NY

Devi :: 01.06 :: New York
It’s hard to think of another band quite like rock power trio Devi, who blend the cleverness and intricacy of a good jam band with the catchiness of vintage power pop, the awareness and relevance of punk and the occasional smirking metal flourish. Beefed up with percussionist Pat Catino plus keyboard wizard Rob Clores, Devi teased and seduced the audience with playfully executed improvisations that threatened to take their melodic rockers into unknown territory. When they finally did, the results were very satisfying.

Frontwoman Debra is one of the few guitarists alive who can actually pull off a long, expressive solo without sounding ridiculously self-indulgent. A master of touch, tone and shading, she’s a supersonic fret-burner with a deep feel for the blues who also writes hauntingly memorable songs. Clores turned her post-9/11 ballad “Welcome to the Boneyard” into an absolutely wrenching affair with a watery, otherworldly setting that gave Debra a chance to let the plaintive anguish of her vocals carry the song. The longing and ache in her voice, soaring way up into her upper register at the end of the song, was literally chilling, as the rhythm section slowly pulsed their way to the end.

Jam-wise, the hit of the evening was an extended psychedelic version of the ominous “When It Comes Down,” with guitar and drums trading off stinging accents, then building to an all-too-brief black hole of noise from which the bass emerged with a pulse to prove everyone was still alive and okay. Even on the band’s most straight-up material, gremlins of the best kind would unexpectedly show their gleeful faces – Keith Mannino‘s bass would echo Debra’s guitar or foreshadow a phrase; drummer John Hummel would pummel with a sudden double-bass ferocity straight out of the John Bonham playbook; and Debra would fly off on guitar with a casual, incisive aplomb, sometimes with a slide or in an alternate tuning, when it came time to step out or bring a crescendo home.

The night’s biggest surprise was new song, “Tompkins Square Park,” a dark, sludgy tribute to civil disobedience, one part Melvins, one part Patti Smith, with Debra trying to talk sense with a cop at a protest and being rewarded for her efforts by having to duck out of the way of a charge by a herd of mounted police.

Devi tour dates available here.

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