Not every concert in Santa Barbara begins with an evacuation, but then again, The Devil Makes Three isn’t just any band. Onlookers at Stateside last Thursday night thought theatrics were the cause for the sparks and smoke collecting above the stage at the start as the country-meets-bluegrass-meets-punk rock-meets-ragtime threesome began to play. But such was not the case. A short scare and a couple of Santa Barbara firefighters later, the show went on.
But drama continued to be a consistent element of this almost sold-out show. The band alone would have been hard not to watch; standing bassist Lucia Turino finger plucked just as well as she harmonized, frontman Pete Bernhard swapped between his electric guitar, harmonica, and banjo without missing a beat, and acoustic guitarist/10-string banjoist Cooper McBean skillfully laid down the rhythm section for the evening. So between the band, a small speaker fire, and a roomful of overall-sporting, dosey-do dancing-and at one point even hula-hooping-fans, it goes without saying that the excitement was high.
Bernhard and McBean, founders of The Devil Makes Three and pals since the eighth grade, grew up listening to blues and country and formed their first punk band as kids growing up on the East Coast. It wasn’t until after high school, when the two moved first to Olympia, then Santa Cruz, where they met Turino, who oddly had never played the bass despite a longtime interest in it. The boys gave her a shot anyway and were impressed with her devotion and natural talent, thus growing from a twosome to three.
Also out to kick off the evening at Stateside with some semi-offensive but good-humored hymns was Santa Barbara novelty and country band Big Jugs, who were delightfully well received by the enthusiastic, foot-stomping crowd.