Charm City Devils
A LocalBozo.com Concert Review
Mercury Lounge, New York, NY
September 3, 2014
Concert Review: Charm City Devils at Mercury Lounge
Bred from the same gritty vein as you’d expect to find acts like Motley Crue and Guns ‘N Roses in their rawest of early days, it was admittedly a bit of a unique setting to notice the sun still out just as Baltimore’s Charm City Devils took the stage for the early show at New York City’s Mercury Lounge on Wednesday night. The five piece band, in town in support of the release of their third album “Battles” which drops September 23rd, rocked the small house with an eight song, forty minute set which would have been perfectly fitting for a 1am start time on the sunset strip in 1986. Fast paced and fluid, the band eschewed much of the glitz and glamour of a live show in favor of an un-apologetically frenzied performance- one that felt like the band was playing to a crowd of thousands rather than an audience far smaller.
Though the band’s set was unabashedly no-frills, there was a lot to like about their performance- the intensely gratifying array of soloing, unabashedly frenetic drum pummeling (resulting in a smashed snare) and frontman John Allen‘s vast range of rock vocals which often found itself at opposite polar pitches from song to song. Opening track “Spite” was a fast paced harbinger of the set to follow, but “Let’s Rock n’ Roll (Endless Road)” truly found the band at its most comfortable on stage, often playing to the crowd’s growing movements around the standing room floor. The cover of Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” slated for release on the band’s upcoming album, was a nice touch and was everything a cover should be- a familiar tip of the cap to the legendary artist intertwined with the Devils’ originally aggressive twist. The Jimi Hendrix “Voodoo Chile” breakdown was similarly not lost on this concertgoer as the wah-wah pedal screams filled the room in a fashion that would make the singer himself smile proudly.
Donning a black denim vest with an American flag and a skull and crossbones on opposite lapels, Allen alternated his crowd banter between elements both sardonic and genuine but seemed most at ease in the midst of the band’s music. A small riser would light the singer from below providing a haunting image amid an otherwise pitch black room during tracks like “Devil is a Woman” and new cut “Crucify.” But the Devils’ most cohesive piece was also Allen’s finest showing of a voice that far exceeds his smallish stature and the bluesy “Man of Constant Sorrow” quickly tore through the crowd in notable fashion. The singer remained posed atop the riser and elevated from the audience, seemingly leaning back physically in order to hit all of the catchy song’s highest notes. Despite previous crowd requests, the Devils saved their latest single- the unrelenting “Shots”- to close out the abbreviated set the same way that it began- in a flurry of heavy riffs, catchy choruses and energetic intensity. Just as rock music was meant to be.
- Dave Gendelson