Cupid must be a DeVotchKa fan. The renowned Denver four-piece burned up the sheets for Valentine’s Day on Friday night in front of a celebratory sold-out crowd. It was the second run of a spirited trifecta at the storied Mercury Cafe. The “Merc” reveled in the V-Day mischief and helped ratchet up the romance with a maze of red lights and sexy frill strung from the rafters.
The band itself, which returns to Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony on July 17, was at its triumphant best. Buoyed by peerless sound production, the band’s acclaimed multi-instrumentation was crisp and Nick Urata’s vocals swirled in a commanding hum. The tones weren’t too high or too low; a surprising balance for such an intimate setting. Having seen DeVotchKa perform live in nearly every local venue (from Red Rocks, the Ogden Theater, the Boulder Theater for E-Town, to the Buell Theater with the CSO), Denver’s native disciples have simply never been better — enshrining the Mercury as possibly the finest home-field advantage in town.
“The Clockwise Witness” set the bar with its danceable passive-aggressive quiver (in fact, the floorboards pulsated under the shuffle of the crowd’s stomp). “You Love Me,” fit with its Valentine’s Day desolation and was pretty and delicate in its windswept acoustic guitar and trumpet intro/outro. From 2011’s “100 Lovers,” “Exhaustible” proved catchy and rhythmic as Urata’s whistled-chorus floated lockstep with the cloudy melody. The classic “We’re Leaving” flourished behind the mariachi-flavored trumpet overture and slow-burned into a deep gale. The Morricone-inspired “The Enemy Guns” was insatiable as it howled out the windows and poured into the city streets like a wild morning prayer; while the violin and accordion clashed in a polyphonic duel.
It’s tough to isolate one low point in the entire set. But that is what good bands do: they make you love them even more.
Kris K. Coe is a freelance writer, Denver-native and regular contributor to Reverb.
Jason Bach is a Denver photographer and a new contributor to Reverb.