Devotchka makes me miss The Pogues. Sure, this Eastern European-themed quartet out of Denver has a continent and over a decade of space between them and Ireland's punk balladeers, but the two bands have a lot in common. They both spin delicate but energetic arrangements with an eye toward acoustic and breath-powered instruments. Both bands are also, at their best moments, a jarring lesson in how a "rock band" can be something grand, sad and even old-worldy.
Thursday night's show at Neurolux will be Devotchka's fourth in Boise in the last two years, so you may already know the formula. Plenty of other people do, too, as the band has recently been covered in the Washington Post and Village Voice, and they played at the Tennessee festival Bonnaroo in June of this year. If you don't know Devotchka, here's an introduction: Nick Urata plays guitar, bouzouki, theremin, sings and spits out the occasional trumpet burst. Tom Hagerman plays violin and accordion--there are actually enough violin and accordion parts to keep him busy for an entire show. Jeanie Schroder plays upright bass and sousaphone (i.e., a wrap-around tuba), and Shawn King plays drums.
What results from all those instruments colliding has been called "Eastern Bloc Indie Rock" and "gypsy rock," but after hearing their incredible cover of Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs," I like to describe Devotchka as an indie rock band where the symphonic instruments aren't just tossed in as atmospheric garnishes to the guitar, bass and drums. If that sounds too complicated, think of it this way: A great dance band that just happens to have a tuba covered in Christmas lights is going to pack the Lux this Thursday.
Thursday, August 10, 9 p.m., $8 in advance through Ticketweb, Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St., 343-0886