You could use a lot of words to describe Marty’s on Newport in Tustin, California. Large wouldn’t be one of them. It is an intimate venue that seems familiar even on your first visit. One word you could have used to describe the venue on October 25 is crowded. Thirty minutes before the music began the place was packed wall to wall with fans excited to see Amigo the Devil.
Harley Poe, a quartet from Kokomo, Indiana, opened the show. The first thing to notice about this band was the unusal lineup of guitar, bass, washboard, and melodica. It’s enough to make you wonder what the band will sound like. It didn’t take long to figure out that the sound is as interesting as the lineup. When the band performed “What’s a Devil To Do?” the mood in the room was akin to an old church revival although the theme was less about redemption and more about evil. The set was filled with dark themes, some of which were paired with bouncy melodies. If you paired the themes from Frantic Flintstones with a sound similar to Violent Femmes, it would sound something like Harley Poe’s set. “I Wanna Die” was a good example of the catchy melody and a dark theme. It was hard not to pogo even as the band sang, “I wanna die.” The darkest theme may have been saved for last when the band performed “Transvestites Can Be Cannibals Too.” The crowd had been good throughout the hour-long set, but came alive singing along to this darkly humourous closer.
Amigo the Devil took the stage and opened with “The Recluse.” It was surprisingly loud for one guy with an acoustic guitar, and it was a good opener to draw the audience in. After the first or second song, he said, “I wrote down a bunch of song titles, but I can’t read my writing, so I’m gonna wing it.” He played a pretty good set for winging it. The crowd was enthusiastic as they sang along with songs like “One Kind of People,” “Cocaine and Abel” and “If I’m Crazy.” The most enthusiastic response came when he played “Hungover in Jonestown.” He encouraged the audience to sing along with the chorus. The first attempt proved unsatisfactory, so he encouraged the audience to sing along, but louder. The crowd obliged and sang the chorus loud enough to get a passing grade from the man onstage.
The themes throughout his set were pretty dark also, but he showed a good sense of humor. At one point during the set, he joked, “And now four songs by John Mayer. Or Jack Johnson.” He then played a Jack Johnson riff, which earned some good laughs. In his hour onstage, he played older tunes as well as a number of songs from the new album Everything Is Fine. The crowd was enthusiastic and pleasant throughout. There were a lot of dark lyrics, but it’s safe to say that no one in the crowd at Marty’s left in a bad mood.