Looking at the three members of The Devil Makes Three, which played to a sold out crowd at House of Blues Cambridge Room last night, you wouldn’t necessarily think they belong in a band together. With his short cropped hair and vintage suit, singer-guitarist Pete Bernhard looked like he could play in a swing band and the same went for upright bassist Lucia Turino. If it weren’t for the cow skull tattooed to her chest, you’d think she came straight from an orchestra rehearsal. And bearded banjo man Cooper McBean looked like he should be in a bluegrass band. And yet these three sounded great together as they played a 90-minute set of their distinctive brand of folk punk.
The show started slow as the band played fan favorites such as “All Hail” — the song featured some great harmony vocals and a mid-song banjo solo — and the waltz “Walk on Boy.” It then shifted musical gears for the Blind Willie McTell cover “Statesboro Blues” and the energy on stage and in the room began to increase. As the set progressed, the band became more animated and so did the crowd. Bernhard launched into a rant about conspiracy theories and UFOs in the middle of “Uncle Harvey’s Plane” and he paid tribute to Jack Daniels in the rowdy “Old Number 7,” a song that is quite literally a drinking ballad. “I can’t go a week without doing wrong,” he moaned like some kind of unrepentant drunk. He then introduced “For Good Again” as a song he wrote about his former home Santa Cruz. With sardonic lyrics like “The song had an Arlo Guthrie-like quality with its sardonic lyrics. By set’s end, audience members were twirling and stomping their feet in unison to the music and Bernhard encouraged the depravity by asking patrons with weed to make a donation at the merch table.
Singer-guitarist Jonny Fritz certainly did a good job of warming the crowd up. Accompanied only by a fiddle player, he struggled with some technical difficulties (and said he couldn’t hear his vocals in the monitors for most of the set), but his songs had a certain charm and came off as something that you might hear by stoner troubadour Todd Snider.