Kevin Devine and Evan Weiss go all out for intimate acoustic show
The indie emo icons left their bands at home and brought a rare stripped-down show to Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
Armed with nothing but his voice and a single nylon-string guitar, indie rock veteran Kevin Devine had no trouble filling the cavernous Sixth and I Historic Synagogue on Feb. 4.
"I can't reiterate enough how amazing it sounds in here. It's really an honor to even play somewhere like this, it's a great break from the beer-saturated clubs," the Brooklyn-based singer said during the show.
Devine was accompanied by fellow indie-emo revivalist Evan Weiss, who also treated loyal and casual fans alike to a rare solo acoustic show. Long Island based singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson performed an early opening set.
Weiss, better known as the brains behind Into It. Over It., began his set almost shyly by tuning his guitar. He explained that the show was the first night of a tour he and Devine had been planning for months.
“This thing’s a bit overdue, we’ve had it coming for a while now,” Weiss said. “Solo shows like this aren’t something Kevin and I get to do too often anymore.”
Weiss’s began his set with a back to back performance of “The Frames That Used to Greet Me” and “New North Side Air,” two songs from two separate records (2011’s “Proper” and 2013’s “Intersections,” respectively) that continue into one another.
“I have a confession to make,” Weiss said in a brief pause between songs, “I meant for it to be cool and artistic when I split these two songs over two records, but now I kind of realize that these two songs just sound exactly the same.”
He laughed as the crowd cheered in approval, despite the humorous similarity between songs.
Over the next hour, Weiss ran through a variety of songs from the entire Into It. Over It. catalogue - which includes over 150 tracks. The Chicago based songwriter, who once wrote one song each week for an entire year, blended belting vocals with tongue twister lyrics and equally dexterous guitar work.
“I’m gonna be honest with you guys, I might really [mess] this one up,” Weiss said, “but if I do, just play it cool, we’ll get through this.”
The crowd cheered him on as he began the complicated but unmistakable, “Spinning Thread.”
Other set highlights included a remarkably full sounding “Midnight: Carroll Street,” a bittersweet version of “Upstate Blues” and a sneak preview at a new song from Weiss’s upcoming split 7” vinyl. He closed the performance with two of his most popular songs, the semi-autobiographical “No Good Before Noon” and the frequently requested “Anchor.”
“Ugh, that song’s so stupid,” Weiss laughed, “but seriously, thank you all so much for coming out, this was legitimately the most fun I’ve had playing a show in months, maybe even years.”
Shortly after Weiss finished, Devine took the stage and thanked the crowd and the management while tuning his guitar.
“There’s something refreshing about a dressing room without a million penises scrawled in sharpie everywhere,” Devine laughed, “we couldn’t have asked for a better space to kick off our tour in.”
Devine’s set spanned his more than 10-year-long career, and alternated crowd requests with deeper cuts for a great mix of new and old material. Early highlights included “No Time Flat” and “Between the Concrete & Clouds.” Devine, who usually tours with a full band, shone as a solo artist. His blend of personal and political lyrics were underscored by carefully constructed guitar parts that ranged from quiet fingerpicking to all out, full chord strumming - often in the same song.
The nearly hour and a half long performance came to a close with one of Devine’s most popular songs, “Cotton Crush.” While tuning and beginning the song, Devine thanked the crowd and the venue again, reiterating the special nature of the tour.
“This has been a long time coming, and I’m so glad I get to spend the next two or three weeks with Evan and Laura,” Devine said. “After a lot of work with a full band, and then taking a couple months off from playing live, it’s so great to get back to these types of shows.”