Murder by Death; July 24, 2011; Wicker Park Fest, Chicago
When I was buying my ridiculously cheap Megabus ticket ($6.50) for this weekend, I looked at Sunday’s line-up to see if there was anyone worth sticking around for. Blitzen Trapper was playing, I like them, but then I remembered how terrible that last record was. On the other hand, Murder by Death might just be worth staying for. I’d seen them twice last year when HHT was on tour with them. And while I didn’t fall madly in love with them, I did find them entertaining if perhaps a little samey. After meeting them all the night before at a party, I was even keener to give them another chance.
Hands down, my favorite thing about them is Scott Brackett. Okkervil River lost one of their greatest assets when multi-instrumentalist Brackett left the band. Their loss is Murder by Death’s definite gain, and his backing vocals, keyboards, accordion and especially trumpet add so much that I can’t imagine them without him. My second favorite thing is cellist Sarah Balliet. The pixie-ish wife of lead singer Adam Turla spends each song as if in a trance, and I do love the cello in rock music. My third favorite thing is that many of their songs are about drinking, how can I not love a band like that? I admit to paying much more attention to them this time than the previous two, and I enjoyed it.
I’ll certainly see them again, especially if tour manager/sound guy/all around awesome dude James Dean (who does the same for Ha Ha Tonka) is with them. Wait, I think I need to re-write that list of things I like best.