Photos By: Ally Smith
By: Ned Molder
Santa Cruz-based band, The Devil Makes Three, has been described as a “drummerless acoustic trio” – which is true, but doesn’t quite conjure an accurate image of their sound.
The trio opened Thursday’s set at The House of Blues with the title track “Stranger” from their latest album “I’m a Stranger Here.” Frontman Pete Bernhard’s greying hair perfectly contrasted his huge childish grin and everyone put down their tall PBRs and started dancing. Bassist Lucia Turino, and multi-instrumentalist and beard aficionado Cooper McBean joined Bernhard in perfect harmony and matching enthusiasm. Turino’s background in dance was as evident as her musicianship, and her rambling bass lines kept the crowd moving straight through the manic tracks “Beneath the Piano” and “The Bullet.” When Bernhard greeted the crowd after the third song, everyone took the opportunity to take off their outer layers. The massive, Masonic, eye of providence banners forming the backdrop were probably judging all the whiskey soaked beards in the mosh pit but it didn’t matter. We all cheered when Bernhard told us that San Diego was better than Minneapolis.
The trio started up again with the hits “All Hail” and “Statesboro Blues.” Everyone got to hear McBean’s perfect country drawl on “Gracefully Facedown” and I’m pretty sure I fell in love when the band brought out a tattooed mystery woman to play cello on “Johnson Family” (seriously someone tell me who she is). The energy level kept building through “Hallelu” and “Spinning Like a Top” until the band brought it back down to prevent too many black eyes and/or strokes. The lights dimmed as everyone finally remembered to breath and the band started playing “Graveyard”. The maker’s mark I drank in my friend Chris’ car before the show was urging me to leave the pit for the restroom but we stayed when Bernhard started the opening riff of “Old Number 7.” McBean continued to showcase his musical bad-assery by switching between fiddle, guitar, and banjo, while nailing perfect harmonies and backup vocals. Lucia Turner continued to casually kill it with her stand-up bass.
The band ended with “Do Wrong Right” before saying the most genuine thank you I’ve heard a band say. Everyone screamed for an encore, to which the band happily obliged. They came back with the white-lightning fast “Bangor Mash” and the crowd reacted with a mosh pit that would not be out of place at a punk show. I pushed in for their last song “St James” and was immediately elbowed in the temple while laughing like a maniac. There was a single security guard behind the gate near the stage and his shocked expression said it all: The Devil Makes Three is unlike any acoustic band you will ever see. Their energy and ability to connect with the crowd makes theirs one of the best live performances I have seen. Do not miss them next time around! Don’t forget the whiskey.