Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009

Photo by Adam Graves
Photo by Adam Graves

A Devilish Halloween Night in Eugene with the Devil Makes Three / Review

By CEILI CORNELIUS // Devil Makes Three: Perfect name for a band playing on Halloween in Eugene!

Halloween night is the perfect night to see the band named after the Devil.

The Devil Makes Three played the McDonald Theater in Downtown Eugene on Halloween Night. The McDonald, a historic building containing many ghosts of shows past, hosted an audience dressed in costume.

The crowd flocked toward the front of the standing-room-only theater.

The opening act for the evening was Erika Wennerstrom, previously leader of the band “Heartless Bastards” who had hit songs such as “Only For You.” Wennerstrom is now out on her own solo endeavor, touring with a band of her own. Their sound still contains her warm, gritty, powerful vocals at the forefront. Dressed up as gypsies in red, the band contained a sound of old country with rich, and indulgent guitar solos. Wennerstrom’s songwriting style is very personal, upfront and speaks of opening up the heart and mind.

In a quote from her website she speaks of reasons to come out with a solo album: “It's just more of me, she says. ‘It's as simple as that. I was able to get deeper and you get another level of my heart and soul. And, it's really about my journey of self-awareness and healing and finding acceptance and self-love. It's very empowering,” she said. Wennerstrom’s sound, lyrics and overall feel is a perfect warm up for The Devil Makes Three. She got the crowd primed and ready for the main performance.

The Devil Makes Three walked on stage in all white, with painted dark eyes and skeleton faces, appropriately dressed for the holiday. They looked like a band straight out of a movie, uniform and ready to play. The founders and initial “three” of the Devil Makes Three entered the stage first: bassist Lucia Turino, guitarist and banjoist, Cooper McBean, and vocalist, guitarist and lead, Pete Bernhard.

They opened with the upbeat, gritty song “Bullet” off their debut album. Their signature red color lit up the stage behind them, referencing the debut album which is completely red, entitled “The Devil Makes Three” released in 2002. They then do a number of songs off that album starting off more acoustic with the banjo sound pushing prominently though. A couple of songs in, they bring out drummer Stefan Amidon, making the set to become more upbeat and rockin’. The backbeat of the drums with their well-known song “Gracefully Facedown” got the audience jumping and singing.

The band continued to play without interruption and without much talking in between songs. The group is all about just playing the music- no frilly anecdotes in between songs. In some ways, a very old-fashioned way of performance, the music is the main star.

The Devil Makes Three is currently touring their most recent album: “Chains Are Broken”. For the first time, they added more dynamic sounds to their “traditions of wandering folk, Delta blues, whiskey-soaked ragtime and reckless rock ‘n’ roll’ sound. Pete Bernhard spoke of his experience writing the album in a quote from their website: ““I always want our songs to unfold like short stories,” affirms Bernhard. “You could think of them like the chapters of a book. Of course, they’re shorter and maybe more poetic.

This was a much more personal album about what it takes to be an artist or writer of any kind—and what you have to do to make your dream possible.” They incorporated quite a few of the newer songs into the set, which contain that same sound and short story. But with an evolution from their previous work as this is their most recent full-length album in 9 years.

The band rocked on for close to two hours coming back for an encore which started with a banjo and fiddle solo. The rest of the band joined the stage to do a performance of “St. James Infirmary Blues”. The ending song of the night, “Do Wrong Right” an upbeat, happy song just about doing life in general and being content with what you do, no matter what is.

Overall, a show of impressive musicianship and danceable songs was a symbolic and celebratory way to spend All Hallows Eve with The Devil Makes Three.

You can find more information on Erika Wennerstrom here: https://www.erikawennerstrom.com/

And on The Devil Makes Three here: http://thedevilmakesthree.com/


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