The Devil Whale


I had a weird realization while having drinks with a friend a few nights ago. I don’t have a single active concert ticket right now. Not a one. No PDF printouts waiting to be scanned, no tickets sitting at will call… nuthin’.

How did this come to pass? Summer concert burnout is partly to blame, not that I have anything to complain about. The stack of yet-to-be-used tickets that usually lives on my wife’s desk at home got plenty thick during the past few months, and seeing Radiohead, tUnE-yArDs and Neko Case, each for the first time, The Alabama Shakes for the second time, Justin Townes Earle for the fourth, Old Crow Medicine Show twice and The Lumineers three times is pretty damn good way to spend the summer, if you ask me.

But looking forward with a clean slate is exhilarating, and it didn’t take long to find a show that has me excited to start chalking it up all over again.

The one I have in mind is happening this coming Thursday, September 13, at The Camel. Not only will Richmonders be treated to a performance by the freakishly talented tritone tribesmen, The Trillions, we’ll also have the chance to check out headliners The Devil Whale — a group that, in the past 6 months, has done tours of duty at SXSW and in the Daytrotter studios, all the while exhibiting one of the things that, in a twist of fate, makes me love The Trillions so much: a satisfying knack for sonic texture.

When I wrote about The Trillions for the first time, I called attention to their remarkable ability to choose electric guitar sounds that serve the notes they’re voicing. This is one of the very first things I noticed as I listened through The Devil Whale’s 2011 full-length, Teeth. Opening track “Golden” is a clinic in contrasting textures — the distorted guitar that kicks the song into gear with a fantastic ascending riff set against the shimmering high-frequency synth tones that come in soon afterward, the Rhodes-y keys that form a subtle backbone juxtaposed with arpeggiated guitar notes’ shifting color and shape, verses that breathe comfortably leading into full-sounding choruses. Second track “Indian” shares many of the same qualities, adding a truly exuberant chorus — the kind of display that makes you want to clap along, even when you’re driving and should probably be using your hands to safely operate your motor vehicle.

(Exorcising musical enthusiasm is extra tricky when you drive stick. For this and many other reasons, my next car will almost certainly have an automatic transmission.)

Listen to “Golden” and “Indian” below, snag both from Bandcamp here, and click here for more info about Thursday’s show, which also features Richmond group Black Brothers. [UPDATE: Totally forgot to mention that The Trillions are also headlining The National tonight! Sad to say I’ll be out of town for this one, but I highly recommend you all hit that show up like it stole somethin’.]

The Devil Whale — “Golden” [Spotify/iTunes]

The Devil Whale — “Indian” [Spotify/iTunes]

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