Devil in the Kitchen : Somerville, MA, January 20, 2005

Devil in the Kitchen

SkyBar, Sommerville, MA
January 20, 2005
Review and Photos by Michael De Los Muertos

Devil in the Kitchen frontman Andy Reiner moves too fast for the camera to catch.

It?s been a long time since I?ve been to a show, and, as the drought of worthwhile metal shows in the < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Portland area continues with no sign of abating, lately I?ve been forced to seek greener pastures elsewhere.  A combination of curiosity, enthusiasm, and a desire to get out of town for a few days thus brought me to Boston, Massachusetts for my first-ever show of Devil in the Kitchen, the up-and-coming folk metal band responsible for the awesome WIZARD?S WALK, one of the most startling releases of 2004.

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I had elected to come to Boston on one of the coldest weeks of the year.  The marble faces of patriots like George Washington, Samuel Adams and William Lloyd Garrison glowered coldly at me from statues encrusted in ice.  At least the beer was cold, the seafood fresh and the great Blizzard of 2005 still several days away. 


You may recognize this memorial from the opening credits of the film "Glory."


 A graveyard.  How tr00 and kVlt is this?


Above: snow-encrusted Civil War memorial in Boston Common.  At right: the frozen graves of patriots.


I was lucky enough to have the chance to meet all the members of the band the afternoon of the show.  Bassil Silver-Hajo, the bassist, is wild-eyed, afro-bedecked and speaks so fast you can barely understand him.  In marked contrast, guitarist Stash Wyslouch speaks quietly and methodically, and he reminded me a lot of Luke Wilson?s character from The Royal Tennenbaums.  Alex Carrara is a little more sedate than Bassil, but not much.  Andy Reiner, the lead fiddle player, seems to keep the crew together pretty well, which is admirable considering the diverse personalities comprising it.  He?s also full of enthusiasm about the band and music in general, and there?s nothing he likes better than playing the fiddle.  ?Most of the ?folk metal? bands out there were started by guitarists,? he told me.  (I think he has Skyclad and Mago de Oz specifically in mind).  ?Our band was started by a fiddle player!?


Andy Reiner and Bassil Silver-Hajo.


Bassil and Stash Wyslouch.


Stash headbangs, Andy fiddles.Above: Andy Reiner and Bassil Silver-Hajo.  At right: Bassil and Stash Wyslouch.


Devil in the Kitchen were the openers at this diverse show at the SkyBar which also featured non-metal bands Cookie Galore and One Of Us.  (I had heard the show was billed as ?Goth Night,? but I didn?t see that tag on any of the promotion materials, and there were no more goths in the audience than you?d see at any other kind of show featuring heavy music).  The SkyBar is a dark but intimate little club attached to a Chinese restaurant in Somerville, a suburb of Boston.  It reminded me a bit of the Satyricon in Portland in its now long-departed heyday.  The SkyBar?s cramped confines seemed a particularly good venue for the Devils? brand of intense, fiddle-driven instrumental metal.  They teed off shortly after nine PM, to a relatively small but enthusiastic crowd.  Beginning with ?Heather?s Concussion,? the first track from their EP WIZARD?S WALK, the band immediately set the tone for the evening, which involved lots of furious fiddling melded seamlessly with the chunky guitar and bass work of Stash and Bassil.  With a seven-string fretted ?Viper? fiddle sticking out of his shoulder like some kind of bizarre appendage, Andy made excellent use of his talents as the band tore through several of their signature pieces, including ?Oven Hampster,? ?Trey Eats Meat,? and the unforgettably-titled ?Coked-Up Leprechaun.?  They also brought four songs into the set that are not on the EP, ?The Strathspey King,? ?Loonacy,? ?Little Greene Men? and ?Viper,? all of which will (hopefully!) be on a future release.  Building on crowd enthusiasm with each song, they kept the pace extremely frenetic, never flagging in speed or energy.





Bassil on the bass.


Alex Carrara and Andy Reiner.


Indeed there?s a lot to see at a Devil in the Kitchen performance.  Nobody really stands still, and the continued thrashing about by Andy, Bassil and Stash adds an element of showmanship and enthusiasm to their set.  I especially liked how Andy (whose Viper is connected to its amp by wireless) leapt off stage and fiddled about in the crowd, literally, personally getting right in the face of audience members who needed a little one-on-one attention to show their enthusiasm.  It worked!  At least insofar as the pure heavy metal elements of Devil?s sound are concerned, Stash appears to be the workhorse of the band.  His style is decidedly raw, which I think is especially appropriate given that it contrasts with what you?d expect of a folk metal band being very polished and highbrow.  Bassil?s bass playing also adds a lot of complexity to the sound, and that combined with the million-notes-a-minute playing of Andy?s fiddle means that there?s an incredible amount of sound to listen to with each second of music.  As an audience member I felt increasingly exhausted after each song, an experience which duplicates what happened when I first listened to the EP.  Just watching these guys play makes you feel tired?you can easily imagine what it?s like to be on stage with them!


The final song of the set, and the highlight in my opinion, was the crowd-pleaser ?Wizard?s Walk.?  Andy had warned me that the version that appears on the EP is slow compared to what it sounds like live.  If you?ve heard ?Wizard?s Walk? on the EP, you can understand my skepticism at this comment.  I was utterly mistaken.  ?Wizard?s Walk? is an unbelievably complex piece of music and, as a non-violinist, I?m at a loss to understand how anybody can play that fast.  My only complaint was that it was so fast it seemed over way too quickly.  But it definitely brought down the house, as I?m sure it probably does each time it?s played.



Andy Reiner plays “Wizard’s Walk.”


The crowd at this show was very cool.  It was such a small club and everybody was packed together tightly that we all felt like we were exactly in the same boat, and everybody responded very favorably to the band and their music.  The cheers and applause at the end of the set were pretty loud and sustained for a brand-new act, and one on the top of the bill to boot.  It seemed that Devil in the Kitchen?s fairly primitive but cool (glow-in-the-dark!) T-shirts were selling pretty well.  This band has already developed a pretty loyal fanbase in the New England area, and they?re clearly interested in expanding that to other parts of the country.  Methinks they?ll have little trouble.  They have enough metal in them to appeal to even the hardest-core metalhead, but I suspect they?ll hold a surprising amount of interest for non-metal fans as well.  Thus they seem to be drawing from the best of both worlds.


Soaked with beer, chilled to the bone, and sated by Devil in the Kitchen?s awesome live show, at the end of the evening I stumbled back to my hotel from the T stop, and I was thankful I?d finally had a chance to see this terrific band.  My trip to Boston was something of an adventure from a number of angles, but the Devil in the Kitchen show was its unquestionable highlight.  If you have a chance to see this band live?even if you have to do some traveling?my firm recommendation is that you do it.  You won?t be disappointed!


More pictures from the Devil in the Kitchen show at the SkyBar:





Set List:

Heather?s Concussion

Oven Hampster

Trey Eats Meat

The Strathspey King


Little Greene Men


Coked-Up Leprechaun

Wizard?s Walk