Words + photos by Farrah Skeiky
It’s a night of garage-influenced retro something-or-other at the Cat. I’m not quite sure what to expect from either band. Devin’s single is successful but hasn’t struck me as anything new. As for The Cribs, I was sure to find myself in the company of those who listened to them in the mid-2000s and were curious to see what they were up to. And of course, there were quite a few of those. But there were also quite a few who continued to listen and were smitten with the latest album, released less than a month ago, and were eager to see how it would match up to established hits.
After hearing their single “You’re Mine,” I wasn’t particularly impressed with Devin. It wasn’t that they were bad, it was just that they were after the same retro dance punk sound that tons of other bands were after. But hearing “You’re Mine” live completely changed my mind about them. Devin isn’t just trying for that sound, they’re pulling it off quite successfully. From the start of their set, Devin Theirrault’s rapid-fire vocals paired with speeding guitar riffs prove themselves to be strangely infectious, throwing throngs of long-standing and first time fans into a frenzy. It’s easy for this type of hammering set to become heartbreakingly sloppy very quickly, but Devin keep a tight sound. It’s their feigned lackadaisical manner that sets people off, as if dancing harder reap some kind of reward or acknowledgement from a band that is nearly the cool older brother you always wanted to be. The B-side “Thing On My Mind” leaves an even greater impression than the aforementioned single itself, with punctuated beats and instant sing-alongability. I can guarantee that Devin is actively on their way up.
Out come The Cribs, perfectly unassuming with no introduction before they dive into a set that comes and goes much too quickly. Only a few seconds in, and it’s already clear that we’re in for an aggressive set. I was excited that “Chi-Town” was up first (my ears perked upon hearing that it was recorded with Steve Albini) and to my surprise, so were many others. The latest album had only been out for a month, and I didn’t realize how successful it had been, or that it had seen any success at all. I had assumed that this show would transport me to 2005 and that most attendees would be of the same mind, but I was wrong about possibly half of the crowd.
This isn’t to say that when “Mirror Kisses” made an appearance later in the set that people didn’t begin bouncing off the walls. They most definitely did. But while The Cribs share a similar sound to their opener, Devin have mastered a tight hold over their sound live and have no trouble keeping it neat. There were many times when I was sure that the headlining trio were close to letting their own sounds run away from them, but they always seemed to put things back into place in a matter of seconds. “I’m A Realist” and “Come On And Be No One” shine early in the set, and though it still feels like each song is played a bit too fast, the haranguing guitar keeps everyone hooked.
“Hey Scenesters” starts up and we find ourselves in a panicked sing-along. No time is wasted between songs, and this is the point where the rushed nature of the set becomes a bit of a problem– if your fans can’t sing along to your biggest songs, it might be time to lend them a hand and ease up a bit. But the thing that saves The Cribs is that they are consistently fun, as very few people took the time to be frustrated by their hurry. So we press on into the second half of the set. “Another Number” is possibly the softest moment of the set, or the least bass-heavy. a few songs later and we’re greeted by “Mirror Kisses.” This is the point in the set when the Jarman brothers start to break out of their stationary spots on stage and finally ease into the light hearted, good-humored personality that their shows promise. There’s no longer a sense that the boys are in a hurry to be somewhere else.
It also seems that they’ve finally started to enjoy themselves, and it’s unfortunate that it took this long. The final third of the set was so much more enjoyable that I wished they had a chance to stop everything and ask the good people at the Cat if they could just start all over. But the last five songs were in a class of their own. “We Share The Same Skies” was the first point in the set that I could point out something beautiful, “Glitters Like Gold” saw the first real sense of balance in their sound all night, and finally “Men’s Needs” is the most fun anyone on either side of the stage has all night. I suppose it’s the comfort of familiar. And what a relief it wasn’t rushed! This probably should have been the end of the set, but The Cribs close on “City of Bugs,” which actually takes the time to be rather lovely.
I’m not quite sure what to blame for the rushed start to the set, and I have no idea what may have caused the fellas to step back and change their pace, but I’m glad they did. The Cribs (or at the very least, the fans they brought out) did an excellent job of proving that they weren’t another 2006 hipster band that would disappear into irrelevance. That said, they need to take some notes from their openers, because it’ll be no surprise for Devin to eclipse them on their way up.