Blog Show Review: Murder by Death @ The El Rey Theater

Show Review: Murder by Death @ The El Rey Theater

Posted Aug. 9, 2012, 2:25 p.m. by Aaron H

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Murder by Death are preparing the release of their 6th studio album, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, while celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their first LP, Like The Exorcist, but More Breakdancing. They've been out on the road sharing some new songs with the fans while returning to that first album with songs they haven't played in years. Scene Point Blank weren't gonna miss it!


Here's a band that never ceases to amaze and entertain. In the past--while bands will occasionally play a full album front to back on tour--Murder by Death took it a step further with playing two full lengths in one night. The group always like to have some kind of surprises or theatricality in their shows. They've had dancers, played to a video montage, so I was curious to see what they might have in store for this tour. While there wasn't anything that extravagent, it was still a great show with some awe-inducing moments.


The openers, Ha Ha Tonka and Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons, both fit the bill perfectly. Ha Ha Tonka had a surprisingly short set, but still got the crowd amped up for the night. Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons did a great Tom Waits cover and toyed around a bit with a cover of The Misfits' "Skulls." It goes without saying though that everyone was waiting anxiously for Murder by Death.


The lights dimmed and frontman, Adam Turla, walked out and opened the show himself with the intro to my favorite song, "The Devil in Mexico." Over the years, I've seen MBD fans get more and more rambunctious. In the past, most would just stand around and watch the show. This always baffled my mind. Why was no one singing along?! Fortunately, that wasn't so much the case tonight. The crowd was much more into it and screaming along to the track's closing lyrics, "Someone say a hail mary for this house. Bless the corners and burn the devil out." It brought a smile to my face. The band went into a new song entitled, "No Oath, No Spell," before getting the crowd riled up again with Red of Tooth and Claw's opener, "Comin' Home."


Murder by Death took the time to acknowledge Like the Exorcist, but More Breakdancing's anniversary with, "I'm Afraid of Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe." Then the band jumped back to the present with a new song written by cellist, Sarah Balliet. The track, "Lost River," is moody and borrows from Like the Exorcist. Although I love the raucous type of sound they've inherited over the course of their albums--a track like, "Lost River," has me very excited for the new record.


They continued to jump from album to album throughout the set. Playing fist pounding tracks like "Steal Away" and "Sometimes the Line Walks You," while keeping the pace varied with slower and soothing tracks like "Foxglove," "Fuego!," and "King of the Gutters, Prince of the Dogs." A little bit halfway through the set they threw in songs they hadn't been playing too often as of late such as "The Desert is On Fire," "Boy Decide," and "Intergalactic Menopause." The crowd went crazy for "Brother" as they always do, and sparks really flew when they played, "Dynamite Mine." Literally. The latest addition to the band, keyboardist Scott Bracket, rummaged up some kind of contraption that would have sparks flying like working in a steel mill. The band closed with "Those Who Stayed"--although they did not do the medley of evil. Womp.


The band came back for 2 more. Another song they had stopped playing for awhile, "Killbot 2000." It's as good as ever. My happiest moment of the nigght was when they closed with "The Devil Drives." A song they hadn't previously played before this tour. This is arguably my second favorite song and it was wonderful to finally see it performed live. What a joy to have my favorite MBD tracks serve as the bookends for the set.


The band will be back on the road in the Fall supporting Say Anything, so if you missed them this tour or won't be able to make any of the remaining dates--I suggest you catch them on that tour. Just because they won't be headlining doesn't mean they won't put on one great performance. Also, be sure to pick up their new album, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, when it's released on September 25th.

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