by Lily Nauta
In a sea of patched denim jackets, beer-staind band-tees, and head-banging figures, the January 29th lineup of Harley Poe and Amigo the Devil at the Catalyst was a night to remember.
The opener of the night was one of my long-time favorites, Harley Poe. Being familiar with the band, I expected to chant the band’s signature gruesome lyrics and groove to the lovely sound of accordions and washboards, but I did not expect to experience the caliber of DIY instrumentation and haunting energy conjured by Harley Poe. First off, the use of makeshift tubing connected to a keyboard (to mimic the sound of the accordion) and duct taped fingertips scraping against a tattered washboard brought a whole new meaning to the term “DIY.” Often categorized into the genre “folk-punk,” where an anti-establishment ethos and DIY mentality are often central to the music, I should have anticipated this, however the band’s ability to reinvent sounds and accomplish the level of “eerie-ness” that they did, is truly ineffable. Along with that, few artists can really get a crowd to yell the lyrics “I wanna die” in undying (pun intended) passion the way that Harley Poe does. I’m not sure if it’s the sound of lead-singer Joe Whiteford’s tortured vocals, his constant reminder of the inevitability of death, or the band’s shameless celebration of humanity’s faults, but something about their set seemed to be extremely cathartic, for what seemed to be the whole crowd. It’s as if Harley Poe doesn’t allow you to forget about the horrors and destruction of the world; they force you to face it, and for that I am grateful.
Upon coming to the show, I wasn’t actually familiar with Amigo the Devil. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but for some reason I suspected Daniel Kiranos (Amigo the Devil) might bring a heavy or more serious tone to the night. Perhaps I prejudged the guy, but being a man of substantial size who plays under the alias “devil” and performs in a genre commonly referred
to as “murderfolk,” I didn’t expect the guy to be too goofy or fun. My assumptions especially felt confirmed as Kiranos walked onto the stage, slowly finger-picking his guitar, peering ominously into the crowd. As he got up to the mic, however, he brushed his lucious brown locks past his shoulders and began widening his eyes and piercing them into the souls of unsuspecting spectators in the crowd.
The moment his eyes met mine, I knew I was wrong. Amigo the Devil is one fun fellow who performs like no other.Throughout the rest of his set, the crowd cheered and sang along in drunken bliss. My personal favorite moment had to be the last couple of verses of the song “I Hope Your Husband Dies,” in which everyone wished death upon someone’s spouse in perfect melodic unison. It was wonderful. Coming in a close second, however, I must say is when Kiranos admitted his possession of several drunken tats (one being a “drunken bee” on his knee– get it? bee’s knees…) and his secret love of Crocs (both comfortable and convenient).
It must be mentioned, however, that despite the levity brought by Kiranos’s humor, the depth and impact of his lyricism was never diminished.
From celebrating murder and cannibalism to singing ballads and laughing at rubber footwear, Harley Poe and Amigo the Devil provided not only me, but the rest of the sold out crowd with an absolutely unforgettable night.