The Justice Files: Murder by Death Live

logo_smlI know that its been awhile since I wrote anything but I have a good reason for that; I haven’t been listening to anything I haven’t recently written about. I figured I could write articles about other music I like but when I’m not in the moment with it I find it really had to come up with the words. So, I’ve just not written anything. Sorry folks, hopefully soon my phase will change but until then lets talk about a band I talked about before. This time, lets talk about the show I saw them at this last weekend.

murderbydeath

Saturday, September 12th. Doors open at 8pm CST, show starts around 10:30pm CST. The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS. About a three and a half hour drive from where I live but I’ve pretty much accepted that I’m going to have to travel to see most shows, not much comes through Springfield, MO but luckily a lot passes near-by. I got up to Lawrence shortly after eight o’ clock, wanting to catch the opening bands on the off chance they don’t suck horribly. Also, I didn’t know when the show actually started and if I missed the first songs of the headliner I would have been pissed.

First up was Cowboy Indian Bear, a three piece band local to Lawrence. Lets just say they used a synthesizer for exceptionally simple drum beats because their drummer wasn’t even on the same page as the rest of the band. They were mellow, slow, uninspired, and all around just plain not good. Luckily their set was short and there was only one more band separating me from the reason I was there.

Suzannah Johannes took stage next and there was immediately something wrong with their sound. The music wasn’t bad but something was missing, that’s when she announced their drummer had moved to LA and, “Whats a band to do?”. Whats a band to do? Maybe get a new drummer before you play a show. Trust me, it hurt your set.

Finally, after two painful bands the stage is set for the entire reason I drove three and a half hours. Murder by Death rocked the fucking house down. I’ve been to a lot of shows but there are few bands that can match the passion put into their music live. They started with some songs off their latest album, Red of Tooth and Claw, but dipped back into tracks all the way back to their first major album, Like the Exorcist… but with more break-dancing.

There was only one song I had my fingers crossed they would play, Shiola. Its a slow acoustic song and doesn’t feature the rest of the band, something I could easily not making the show cut. But when my girlfriend looked up at me and asked, “Why is everyone but Adam (the lead singer) leaving?” I just smiled and said, “Shiola.” They hit all the songs I really wanted to hear live, Brother, Comin Home, even 52′ Ford. With the exception of Devil in Mexico, I couldn’t think of any songs I was really looking forward to that weren’t played.

They played for a decent set, even stepping off stage at one point only to return when the clapping, stomping, and screaming build to the level of causing structural damage to the club. A classic band move but one that always feels forced and sour to me. The lights don’t go up, music doesn’t stop playing, and everyone in the club knows they are just waiting to be cheered back on stage. I suppose they need a break and that’s what its really all about but at the same time it almost feels like the concert equivalent of an Applause sign.

After the show my girlfriend and I were sitting around at the club. I had a bit of whiskey in me and just didn’t feel like moving right away, plus I always like for the crowd to part before making my exodus from a club. The band had wandered out and was surrounded by fans chatting them up and my girlfriend really wanted to say hi to their cellist. Of course, what the hell do you say? “Hi, I like your band”? We know their just normal people but its weird to strike up a conversation. So, I told her I’ll go talk to them with her if it makes her feel better. I stood up and made my way over to the lead singer and introduced myself. I complimented the show and mentioned we drove up from Springfield, MO to see them. Basically, I thought of the stuff that would make me happy to hear regardless of who’s saying it. He talked about how much he liked Springfield and wished they could have played their on this tour, but assured us they would be in town at some point. We then made out way over to the cellist and talked to her briefly… well, my girlfriend did. I couldn’t hear much over the music but she seemed really nice anyway. Said something about having family in Springfield too. Not sure though, couldn’t hear that well.

We packed up after that and headed back but before I end this column I want to talk about the stuff I picked up at the show. I brought cash to pick up a t-shirt and when we were looking over their merch I saw a hoodie that I thought was just pure awesome. The picture you saw at the beginning of the article is on the back and on the front is just a small scorpion. I got a t-shirt as well but I can’t track down a picture of it and I wouldn’t be able to describe it well enough to get across how awesome it is. They also had a bunch of vinyl albums I was tempted to get but the hoodie and t-shirt drained my funds and I don’t have a record player anyway.

Overall, it was a fantastic show. I’d highly recommend seeing these guys live. They have a passion in their performance that is unrivaled. I’ve seen a lot of bands and a good number that are simply there to play the show. With Murder by Death they poured their soul into every song and you could just feel raw emotion with every chord. It was a fantastic night, well worth the drive.

1 comment on “The Justice Files: Murder by Death LiveAdd yours →

  1. So glad that you got to see them live. Seen them twice now – first opening for The Pogues in ’06 and then with Flogging Molly in ’07.
    I became obsessed when they played Those Who Stayed live. Such a beautiful cacophony!

    Great job covering the concert Rob, I look forward to the next offering.

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