These guys are fast.  Fast like they won the West before a fight even broke out.
Fast like the past.
They played 25 songs!
I mean F.A.S.T.
and fun.

Santa Cruz is where it all came together for this trio.  They know the streets all too well and have an intuitive grasp on the world that allows “All Hail” to break loose.  These guys are not above it all; they are in the thick of it with the rest of us.

If The Devil Makes Three had the White House floor…hmm.

They write about real shit.  And, I don’t mean Middle America complaints on the cost of child care.  I’m talking ‘food for the crack cocaine’.  They sing about the folk who Middle America shrug off their bad day to, with the flippant thought of “it could always be worse.”  They understand ‘the worse’ and sing their song.

These guys and gal are real fast; forward thinkers and fast tempo.  They’ve got many ‘Blues’ stories.

‘Folk’ these days has a new meaning.  The struggles of folk are daily and real; The Devil Makes Three finds the gutter crawlers and sings as their witness.

There most definitely was a crowd change for this headliner, showcasing Santa Cruz’s prized weirdness.  They came in just for this show.  The surfers wrapped up their set early to catch their hometown band play theirs.  Tattoos and green hair, tanned muscles and surf shorts packed as close to the stage as possible, squeezed aside the confines of the coveted Gold Circle, whose white chairs where perfectly aligned at prime location and remained mostly empty during this last performance as most in this section were up front of stage dancing.  It was definitely a dramatically different crowd organization compared to the night before. The boundaries of General Admission was wildly apparent and not ideal.

This performance created the best visual of what one may conjure up for ‘music festival’ in California.  The lawn was spotted with free spirits and colorful individuals who clearly are creative and make point to not be the norm.  Everyone remained responsibly cool.

TDM3 could give 2 shits about living up to anyone’s expectations, except if those expectations are to sound like someone else. They make damn sure they don’t!  Utilizing varying upbeat tempos, with dark mysterious strings, and stories of lost souls, they’re an instant classic.  Swearing a thousand ways since Sunday, it comes from no other than what they themselves possess, they purposefully curate their content; originality evident…mind-blowing actually.

Pete Bernhard introduces his members which lead into individual solos: Cooper McBean banjo-beatniks “Face Down”.  Bassist Lucia Turino spells out the obvious, “I’m A Woman” in vintage vaudeville voice.  Bernhard introduces himself and sings “Drunken Hearted Man”.  Together, they work unbelievably well; a combined tone that really is different yet reminiscent…maybe of the sound you wished it were in the old black and white films, which is what comprises a majority of their music videos = prolific.

Their backstage fans, the big names who played prior, encamped the tent stage-right and projected their cheers onstage during each 2 second songbreak, only adding to the experience.  TDM3 sending love back to their stage predecessors, they ask what we thought of The Brothers Comatose and mentioned playing Red Rocks with The Wood Brothers.

They play a song we maybe hadn’t heard yet, “Bad Idea”.  I second guess a couple decisions I’d made in my life leading up to that particular moment.  BUT, before I can shame myself, they go into a Gospel song.  “There’ll Be A Jubilee”.  Those bad decisions were clearly meant to be.  I hear someone next to me say ‘I hadn’t heard that one.’… And just as soon as I try to make sense of what is happening, they “Black Irish”, which gives me ideas of how to better remake those bad decisions.

The crowd is beside themselves, protected by a very visible great feeling.  The setlist was so well planned for this festival.  They accomplished exactly what a concert is supposed to do, mind-numb you through incessant thinking and feeling…and this happened early, well early for their fast set of a quick 25.  We were mind-numbed into hypnotic puppets, dancing exactly as they’d designed.

Pete plays us a song he ‘wrote in Santa Cruz, about Santa Cruz.’  “Paul” is about a buddy he lived with downtown.  Pete & Paul were in a band together, “The Shakes”, claiming it ‘the worst fucking band ever’.  Anyway, he explains that The Devil Makes Three would never be, had it not been for Santa Cruz.

Their fast-paced set never had a tempo below tachycardic.  They leave a solid take-home message: “if you’re gonna do wrong better dowrongright”.

But they couldn’t end it like that.  After 22 songs in an hour and fifteen minutes, they executed an encore worthy of a total show in-and-of itself.  2 more songs and a “Bangor Mash”.  They barely busted a sweat and our night had just begun.

The Devil Makes Three Setlist:
The Bullet
All Hail
Man Tap
Chains Are Broken
Face Down
I’m A Woman
Drunken Hearted Man
Dragging Chains
Graveyard
Pray For Rain
Bad Idea
There’ll Be A Jubilee
Black Irish
Paint My Face
River Deep
Puppets
Old #7
Can’t Stop
Paul
Plank
Dead Body
DWR

Encore:
I Am The Man
Stranger
Bangor Mash

The Devil Makes Three Concert Review by Elizabeth Lauer – Santa Cruz American Music Festival 2017 at Aptos Village Park in Aptos, California
The Devil Makes Three photo credit Elizabeth Lauer