The Saturday before the Saturday that just passed (unless you’re reading this far in the future then it’s the Saturday considerably longer in the past) My Cousin Nick, Timothy and I went to go see Kevin Devine perform for free in some underground bar in downtown Portland. It was nothing planned. My cousin and I were looking for future concerts in Portland to go to and when we saw that Kevin Devine would be playing that night, and for free nonetheless, we immediately decided we would go. My cousin likes Kevin Devine, Timothy had no idea who Kevin Devine was, and I have very mixed feelings on Kevin Devine that ultimately lead to me saying that I like him a lot.
I have a lot of Kevin Devine songs. I don’t like some of them. I have no strong feelings towards many of them. I like more than a few of them. And I absolutely love two of them. I don’t know where they’ll each land on my countdown, but Kevin Devine will be the only artist who only has two songs on my list but both of those songs will be in the top 20, one of which might make the top ten. So it’s very confusing for me to decide where Kevin Devine falls on my list of favorite artists. Unlike Bright Eyes or Taking Back Sunday Kevin Devine doesn’t have any albums that I can just put on and listen to the whole thing without skipping over a track. But at the same time both of the Kevin Devine songs I love will be higher on the list than any Taking Back Sunday or Bright Eyes will have on the list. But anyway this is boring both me and you.
My buddies and I went to the concert and shortly afterwards I proclaimed it to be the best concert I have ever attended even though it was less of a concert and more of a small group of people being entertained by a man and his guitar (although for the first part he was joined by a girl, Morgan Kibby, who had a great voice along with keyboard skills). The intimate feel is what I loved about it. I wasn’t surrounded by hundreds of people screaming random things that blur together at the band on stage. It was fans sitting quietly, for the most part, enjoying the show.
I say for the most part because there were a couple of loud jerks who I had the desire of taking out to the street and beating the living shit out of, and I’m a guy who has very little desire to fight ever, so that should tell you how pissed I was at those people. For the most part Kevin Devine handled it with a sense of humor, saying things like, “by all means don’t let me get in the way of your conversation,” which when written seems more passive aggressive than anything else, but everyone laughed. Another thing I really enjoyed is that during the second or third song a few people in the corner were talking and Kevin Devine, all the while still singing in key, gave them the talky-talk sign people do with their hands, indicating that they’re talking too much. Probably not a big problem when at a normal concert, but in a small room where I was ten feet away from where Kevin Devine was performing the talking is not only annoying to those enjoying the show, but Kevin Devine. I can’t imagine playing the guitar and singing with the skill he has, but to do it all while people are having annoying drunken conversation is pretty amazing. Not only to never mess up, but also just to not go crazy and start bashing the people who won’t shut up’s heads in with the guitar.
He did four free shows in Portland, so I give him major props for that. Also before the show while he was setting up the few required things needed for his performance some guy came up to him and asked if he could wish his friend Paul a happy birthday, and not only did he do that but he sang it to him while playing the guitar. He seems like a genuinely nice and kind of funny guy. Some people were asking him to play Freebird by Lynyrd Skinner for some reason and later in the show without any notification he started playing it and I’d say a good 80 to 85 percent of the crowd didn’t even notice, so after about 20 seconds he stopped and jokingly said, “don’t ask for a song if you’re not going to recognize when I play it.” It took me a couple of lyrics before I realized he was playing it, but once I did I started chuckling with the other 20% that realized it. Also something Christopher would have admired if he were there is that Devine played an acoustic version of the opening theme to The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, the early 90s sitcom staring Will Smith and I’m not sure why I’m explaining what it is any further because I’m sure you all would have known what I was talking about if I just said Fresh Prince. It truly was the show that defined our generation…no it wasn’t.
Anyway, I’d advise you all to see Kevin Devine if he plays in a city near you, especially if it’s a smaller performance. He has so much emotion in his singing and he made good conversation during the more than 2 hours of playing and took requests and talked with audience members before, in between, and after his performance, and I even got to shake his hand and tell him the performance was amazing and I just hope to God I had washed my hands after masturbating that day because he deserves nothing less than that.