Although I completely missed opener Cap Lori, Past Lives did their best to warm up the throngs of anxious Devils devotees while shedding the skin of their former selves (three quarters of its members were in the much revered spazzcore outfit known as the Blood Brothers) by creating a mesmerizing wall of frenzied drumming and angular guitar slashing completed by singer Jordan Blilie’s patented wail. It seemed to work, if only to distract the faithful from emptying their wallets to the tune of $200 for the coveted Murder City merch box on sale at the back bar.
To paraphrase the classic Barracudas ode to the ’60s, only 30 years into the future: I wish it could be 1995 again. The Murder City Devils that sought to re-ignite the maligned face of “rock” back then was not the same animal this time out, no matter how hard we (and the band) tried to remember it. Mostly because when they laid waste to places like the Brickyard in their heyday, those moments stuck like the gum on your shoe and wouldn’t go away. Now, during their much bally hooed reunion, it felt at times that something was missing—the memories didn’t stick like they should have. The band that proclaimed we should “get off the floor while we’re still young” seemed to have misplaced sentiments—the fans who saw them at their most volatile are all grown up now. Yes, there were miscues, forgotten lyrics and questionable song choices that peppered their hour-long set. And yet, we brought our dancin’ shoes, ‘cuz they had a job to do, and at points during the evening, the potency of tracks like “Rum To Whiskey,” “In My Heart” and “18 Wheels” were not lost on the near sold out crowd. Fists were pumping, beer was spraying and cameras were flashing in hopes of catching those glimpses of brilliance. Coady Willis still beat the living hell out of his kit, but bassist Derek Fudesco and guitarist Nate Manny seemed detached, and Spencer Moody was downright cryptic with his little speech at the end of the show. On the other end of the stage, guitarist Dann Gallucci was taunting and twirling away, but keyboardist Leslie Hardy probably couldn’t have cared less. It was an entertaining if somewhat disengaged performance from a band who could very well have set the stage ablaze, but in the end only managed a few sparks.