Sunday, Sept. 16, Zilker park

ACL Music Fest Live Shots
Photos by John Anderson


Denver might seem like an unlikely locale for a renaissance of Eastern European folk idioms, but Devotchka's festival circuit ascendancy is sure to change that. Initially formed as a backing band for burlesque dancers, the multi-instrumentalist quartet's unique currency crosses the Old World with the Wild West and a vast sense of romantic longing. Nick Urata's plaintively soaring vocals fully embodied the latter element Sunday afternoon. Taken together with Tom Hagerman's emotionally calibrated violin, songs like "How It Ends" from the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack became heartstring-pulling juggernauts. Jeanie Schroder earned hazard pay by alternately holding down the low end on upright bass and sousaphone, while drummer Shawn King also added mariachi-style trumpet. The set lagged somewhat in the midsection, but the band kept things percolating with an upbeat yet requisitely twisted rendition of the Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs." The performance culminated with "Enemy Guns," which crossed traces of Calexico's high desert rock with a Morricone-style spaghetti Western aesthetic punctuated by Urata's pitch-perfect whistling.

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