(Live Review) AMIGO THE DEVIL + SUPPORT - Chicago, 10/17/23
Wriiten by: The Beard and Little Johnny
Tonight brings yet another milestone in a year full of them as The Beard and Little Johnny attend our 60th show and review bands #270-272 on our The Reviews Never Stop Tour 2023. This evening, we have also gathered our full posse including The Beard, Little Johnny, our head of security Greg “The Big Buffet” Hulke, Manager extraordinaire Evil Steve, The Enforcer Chris J and our own redheaded Mistress of Metal, Jennifer Q to attend Thalia Halls performance from: Amigo The Devil, Tejon Street Corner Thieves, and Nate Bergman.
We are all seated up in the balcony area near the sound desk. This is a favorite area at Thalia Hall for good sound and sight lines. Thalia Hall's special beer of the show is a Revolution Hazy IPA, so already Johnny is happy. The rest of us are choosing Pilsners and Lagers.
This evening’s performers are all pretty eclectic, starting with ...
A Jewish guy who has a voice like a bluesman after a two pack a day habit for the last twenty years. Bergman is touring behind his solo release Metaphysical Change. Formerly the leader of Lionize (a reggae/rock band since 2004), Bergman went solo in 2020, changing his musical direction to country/blues in the manner of a Neil Young-meets-Paul Simon type of genre-bending way.
Bergman cites such diverse influences as Gunship, Etta James, Clutch, and Bob Dylan. Songs from his solo album feature input just as diverse including contributions by Brit Turner of Blackberry Smoke, Frank Lero of My Chemical Romance, and Per Wiberg of Opeth. With all that, The Beard was ready for virtually anything here.
Nate was a solo artist on acoustic guitar with folk sound, but in keeping with the evenings theme, songs were on the dark side lyrically. “Repeat Until You Die” was mostly evocative of sad regret, while “War on the Working Class” channeled angry protest vibes.
Bergman has a strong voice, and I can hear why he admires Dylan in the lyrical structure of his songs and yet also Clutch for the emotive aspect. The crowd was supportive, although Johnny was decidedly bored with an acoustic act. “My Heart is an Empty House” had a Nashville country/blues feel.
Although emotive and seemingly possessed of genuine passion, The Beard can only give 75/100 for the performance.
TEJON STREET CORNER THIEVES
Tejon Street Corner Thieves are a Colorado Springs alternative folk band with three albums since 2020 and another, “Juxtaposition” due out this month (advance copies were for sale in the merchandise room) which combined their styles of bluegrass, folk, and punk. Connor O’Neal the vocalist and Banjo player took us through a mix of songs featuring titles like “Whiskey is All We Need.”
With a Banjo, a stand-up cello and an acoustic guitar, this three-piece wasted little time getting the large crowd into their bluegrass party-time atmosphere. Before the first song had concluded, they already had the crowd hot and stomping along. Their audience rapport was also amusing (including introducing one song as about “being a big ole piece of shit”).
Admittedly Little Johnny was much happier with these guys who tapped into the lad’s party side. He stomped and whooped along slapping his cap on his leg and twirling about. An odd cover of the old Cab Calloway staple "Minnie the Moocher" and a call for a “Bluegrass Kazoo laden circle pit,” which despite Johnny's willingness, did not actually evolve, were further examples of this band's intent to be totally unpredictable in what they were doing. They reminded the Beard a bit of The Goddamn Gallows (another band that slides in-between easy descriptions, but somehow sucks you into their off-kilter chaos).
Overall, The Tejon Street Corner Thieves had a good presentation and an excellent crowd reaction to it. The Beard is calling them an 88/100 for a fun 40 minutes and the posse as a whole lauded them a rousing success.
AMIGO THE DEVIL
Headliner Amigo the Devil, aka (Danny Kiranos) is the 36-year-old from Florida who has pioneered his unique brand of banjo-led music which combines the styles of folk, country, and yes metal, into what fans have dubbed "murder folk". Amigo/Danny has moved his career from making horror films, to brewing beer, to now touring the country with songs about mass murderers and other seedy sorts.
Although Amigo began his career, (and is still quite capable of), performing solo, to fill out the metal portion of his music, he is backed by David Talley on guitar, Jason Deitz on Bass, sister Katerina Kiranos on keyboards and drummer Carson Kehrer. This array of band members absolutely makes the songs both more haunting and definitely more metal. The keys especially add to the fullness and ambiance.
With a full sixteen song set, Amigo regaled and, in some cases, lyrically reviled us with such tracks as crowd favorites, "Infamous Butcher", "Dahmer does Hollywood", "Murder at the Bingo Hall" & "Hungover in Jonestown". New songs such as "Once Upon a Time at a Texaco Part One" and "Cannibal Within", were well received by quite the enthusiastic crowd who knew well the lyrics of many of the numbers and sang along quite loudly throughout.
The trick here is that Amigo/Danny remains personable, funny, and engaging. Watching him, one does not think, “My what a disturbed man. I need to avoid him.” Instead, it is my firm belief that 95 percent of the audience really wants to drink with this guy. Proving of course that just because you have a dark imagination, you are not necessarily a dark person (even though his songs are often mined from and mired in personal tragedy). Amigo the Devil, as a moniker, fits because at his tempting best, the Devil is not terrifying, he’s seductive and that is what this set does to you.
While the subject matter might well be repulsive sometimes, his tales of loneliness, loss and sorrow resonate with people. There is a reason why millions of people flock to horror films, there is a reason why there is a universal fascination with sociopaths, and there is a reason why, despite the long existence of The Bible, in the end The Devil tells the best tales.
Amigo/Danny knows this well and he both gives and receives to/from the audience what both need. Adulation from one side, perceived understanding from the other.
Our entire posse enjoyed this off-beat evening of music, and while it may not be the stuff a site like The Mighty Decibel normally carries, it is a slice of oddity and uniqueness making it something metalheads ought to check out if it is new material for them. Awarding Amigo the Devil a solid 87/100.
This wraps up show number 60 and bands 270-272. The Beard and his troupe are now headed to some late-night food courtesy of The Steak and Egger, a Chicago diner that has been open 24/7/365 since 1955. At this place during the overnights anything can and does happen so after a night of off kilter music it only makes sense, we enjoy some off kilter fare and ambiance.
Be certain to catch our reviews each Wednesday and Thursday throughout November at your award-winning site for Metal, The Mighty Decibel, then check out the videos on our TikTok site by searching.
Until next time...