- Okay, so which one is the devil?
But as guitarist and lead singer Pete Bernhard, as well as anyone who's ever seen the drummer-less, almost acoustic trio knows, The Devil Makes Three is not bluegrass at all.
"Most of the time when people see the stand up bass, they immediately think bluegrass. But that's not what we do," Bernhard says.
To explain the Devil Makes Three conundrum, let's propose a hypothetical scenario. You're at a wedding reception where you know hardly anyone, so you spend a considerable amount of time strolling through the buffet line where you see what appears to be a platter of burritos. The tortillas are rolled with the ends tucked in, adhering to proper burrito folding prototype and they're warm to the touch, just how you like your burritos. So you, as a casual burrito enthusiast, excitedly bite into the tortilla, only to find that this isn't a burrito at all, but rather some sort of spinach, turkey and cream cheese wrap. You're disappointed because you wanted a burrito, but you eat it, not wanting to be seen spitting fake burrito into the garbage can. But as you eat, you realize that you like spinach, turkey and cream cheese wraps and proceed to devour the remainder of the platter in a display of unbridled gluttony.
This is, in a way, explains what could happen to some unsuspecting concertgoers at a Devil Makes Three show. The concertgoer sees Lucia Turino playing a stand-up bass, a sight that to many signals bluegrass, thus convincing said music fan that he or she is in for a night of toe-tapping twanging (liken this to your hypothetical burrito expectations). But then the trio starts ripping away in their folk-meets-rockabilly-meets-your-grandfather's-country/western-record-collection style that's wrapped in punk rock attitude (think of this as the tortilla) and all bluegrass expectations deflate as the band's growing legion of dedicated fans starts raucously dancing off the walls.
The Devil Makes Three doesn't elicit a mosh pit or anything that intense, but Pete Bernhard says casual observers often have their expectations derailed - but still go away happy (just as you hypothetically went home pleased with your newfound affinity for turkey wraps).
"People are like, 'Wow, this is like really crazy.' The crowd is sort of wild and they're wondering, 'What did we get ourselves into?'" Berhand said.
"We used to play shows where it was a sit-down kind of affair - more like a folk show - but it really wasn't that much fun, so we kind of stopped doing that," he said.
With Cooper McBean joining Bernhard on guitar and banjo, The Devil Makes Three does land itself musically within the alt-country genre, yet attracts a far-reaching audience of indie rock fans as well as Americana enthusiasts. This diverse following has allowed the band to headline a sold-out show at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall and launch a coast-to-coast tour with stops at festivals and mid-sized venues. But after six years of touring, Bernhard still isn't quite sure why people like his band whose musical styles predate most of its audience.
"It's hard to say. Musical trends are totally beyond me. I always thought the reason people like us is because the songs aren't attached to a certain scene," he speculates.
So the lesson here is that if you like burritos, you'll like the Devil Makes Three...or something along those lines.
The Devil Makes Three, Professor Gall
8:30pm doors, 9:30pm show. Sunday, June 15. Domino Room, 51 NW Greenwood Ave. $13/advanced (plus service fees), $15/day of show (plus service fees). Tickets at Ranch Records or ticketswest.com.