Before I begin my review of the show, I would like to go on record saying that Murder By Death may very well have landed themselves in my personal top 5 favorite bands. Yes, I know this is a big statement. This didn’t happen spontaneously, nor did it happen just in the recent past. Murder By Death sank their claws into my auditory cortex 5 years ago when I first listened to the album In Bocca Al Lupo and then further with the follow up Red Of Tooth and Claw shortly after. Pulling me further into their genre bending sound with the release of Good Morning Magpie, I knew that they had firmly planted a spot in my favorites list for all time.
Murder By Death are currently on the road touring to promote the upcoming release of their fifth album Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon. The LP is set to be released on September 25, 2012 by Bloodshot Records (Review to come soon). On 8/15, Murder By Death swung into the good ol’ SLC with prior tour mates Ha Ha Tonka and added the Minneapolis based band, 4onthefloor to the line-up. In true douche-baggery fashion the Salt Lake Chapter of the Bearded Gentlemen once again missed the first act. Truth be told I really wanted to see 4OTF having heard great things about their live performance. I even tried to make it a point to get to the venue early. However, as luck would have it I forgot the tickets and had to trek back home to get them. I felt extremely guilty about missing them but heard from very credible sources at the show that they killed it on stage. Be sure to check out 4onthefloor’s site here.
Here is a vid for their song “Junkie” (Note the singer Gabriel Douglas’ epic beard.)
The BGM crew managed to make it back to Bar Deluxe just in time to see the Missouri based band Ha Ha Tonka take the stage. The band takes pride in it’s Ozark’s roots and enthusiastically blends traditional bluegrass and folk nuances with energetic, southern rock rhythms. Having gained mass attention over the past few years, Ha Ha Tonka were recently featured on episode of the Travel Channel’s show No Reservations With Anthony Bourdain (a favorite of mine) a few weeks prior to the release of their last album Death Of A Decade in 2011. As they started their set, the band managed to keep the crowd’s attention through a brutally long sound check that eventually paid of with full-hearted performance. Ha Ha Tonka’s (extra picky) attention to the sound was quickly forgiven and greatly appreciated as the band’s flawless harmonies were belted from the stage. Making their way through their setlist with songs such as “Usual Suspects,” and “Caney Mountain,” they treated the audience to something special with an acapella performance of the folk tune “Hangman,” which had appeared on their debut album. While I have been a fan for a few years, Ha Ha Tonka’s genuine performance caught me by surprise. Keep an eye out for this band in your town and keep up to date with them here.
I know that Murder By Death is not suited for everyone’s taste (although, they should be). They are the type of band that fills a very particular niche for a fan’s palate. Not because they embody a certain genre, but rather the fact that they are able to take the best of all genres and create a sound that almost no one else is capable of putting out. In doing so they have built an extremely devout fan base and following. MBD consistently sell out shows across the country in which the dedicated crowd are able to sing along with every single tune. Recently, the bands loyal fans helped to raise over $180,000 on MBD’s Kickstarter page to help the band continue to press and release all of their collection on vinyl. This project is now the third highest funded music project on Kickstarter. Another huge testament to how great and loyal their fanbase is.
Murder By Death came to the stage and jumped right in with a couple of their unique gypsy-esque numbers, “You Don’t Miss Twice (When You’re Shavin’ With A Knife” followed to an ode to God’s love
juice, “As Long As There Is Whiskey In The World.” Singer/Guitarist Adam Turla’s unique baritone vocal stylings paired with the intricate and mesmerizing cello riffs played by gorgeous Sara Balliet really set the tone for the band’s sound. However, I noticed early on that perhaps Turla and crew should have been as picky as the Ha Ha Tonka in soundcheck. That special baritone sound that sets them apart from everyone else had become washed out through the PA just enough to irritate my concert companions and I through the remainder of the show. The band still performed with full force and did manage to almost make me forget my little gripe with the sound, almost. The set included a good collection of songs from the band’s entire catalog. Songs such as Red Of Tooth And Claw heavy hitters “Comin’ Home,” and “Fuego.” Turla also stopped to mention that 2012 just so happened to be the tenth anniversary of MBD’s first album Like The Exorcist, But More Breakdancing and proceeded to play a small block of older gems from that album including the standout “Intergalactic Menopause.” The Indiana based quintet also gave their fans the first tastes of the soon to be released album, all of which were received with great reactions. I have had the privilege of listening to a copy of Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon and have to say that while hearing these new songs live was outstanding, it didn’t do the album justice. So you the fan should definitely be excited! (Remember, review to come!) All in all, the show was definitely not one to be missed. Murder By Death have just ended their Summer US tour but will most likely be on the road again soon after the release of their new LP. Be Sure to see them live, you will not regret it.
Check out the Murder By Death’s website here where you can pre-order the upcoming LP Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon.
Go to the Bearded Gentlemen YouTube site to watch more videos from the show!!!
Tour Poster – Last Leaf Printing / http://lastleafprinting.com/?p=922