Folkadelphia Session: DeVotchKa (with an Orchestra)
A band’s age can say much about their continued creative impetus and longevity. A newly founded act often wears its major influences on its sleeve, whereas a seasoned group sometimes becomes the musical ideal, the touchstone influence for a scene, and the model for all of those that would follow, owning a sound that is very much specific and inextricable to them. However at a point in many a band’s lifetime, they will fall into the trap of playing it safe, shirking away from musical risk-taking, and instead focusing on what is familiar and “tried-and-true.” If a band cannot evolve over time, they may not disappear, but they certainly stagnate indefinitely.
Often, when a group sticks around and breaks the decade mark, it means that they may have figured out something important about continued growth as musicians and musical partners; you must walk a fine line between musical reinvention and dependency. Reinvention may be too severe and end up isolating a band’s fanbase and betraying any consistency or integrity displayed in the past. However, as mentioned before, if a band does not grow, if they depend on their same sound album after album, they become played out and a bit of a caricature of themselves.
DeVotchKa, now close to their second decade milestone, understands this dilemma intimately, but have succeeded in keeping their music sounding fresh, imaginative, and fun. They have managed, throughout their lifetime, to walk this fine line, building off their gypsy rock foundation and incorporating elements of punk, country & western, cabaret, international folk, classic pop, soundtracks, and, in this latest musical chapter, orchestration. The band has always flirted with orchestral flairs and flourishes, but they took it to the next level when they fleshed out and scored their oeuvre for a live album recorded and released last year, and a handful of concerts (like the one at the Trocaderoon March 8th). They imbue new life and energy into songs I’ve heard a thousand times. One thing for sure is that whatever sound DeVotchKa chooses to experiment with next, they will make it wholly a part of their branded, signature style – I can’t wait to hear what they’ll be working on.
DeVotchKa and their orchestral compatriots were kind enough to stop by the WXPN Performance Studio on the morning of March 8th, 2013 to play a few songs for us for this latest Folkadelphia Session.