Material: Long Beach’s Devil Season are one of those bands that are wonderfully tough to classify. It’s tempting to throw the label “punk” at them, and there are certainly elements of Bad Brains, plus fellow Long Beach band Sublime, in there––that infectious blend of hardcore and dub/reggae. But there’s so much more to the Devil Season sound, including (but not limited to) old-school hip-hop, R&B, indie rock, EDM and Clinton-esque funk. It all makes for a moody, groove-heavy noise soup. The songs are dance-friendly––it’s easy to close your eyes and just be carried away by the whole thing. But they’re also memorable enough to work as individual cuts.
Musicianship: Most notable from the get-go is the fact that there’s no guitar. Rather, Beville, Atallah and Walker all play a combination of bass, drums and keys, resulting in a rhythmic sound that isn’t lacking in melody at all. All three are masters of their various instruments but, more importantly, they’re utterly in sync with each other. Meanwhile, Jackson has a voice that soars when a song requires it to, or angrily spits out the occasional syllable when necessary. The sum of the parts is a slick, fine-tuned beast of a band.
Performance: Naturally, all eyes are on the frontman, and Jackson does a great job of leading his charges. After a lengthy soundcheck (which he acknowledges) at The Wayfarer in Orange County, Jackson hugs a few people at the front and encourages a “love pit.” On cue, a modest but mood-inducing group of swaying attendees is formed, which in turn appears to motivate the singer. There’s not a huge amount of leaping around, but this group of musicians are so clearly into their own music that it’s difficult not to be equally besotted.
Summary: On a four-band bill at The Wayfarer, Devil Season played third (after New York’s Boytoy and LA’s The Entire Universe, and before Long Beach’s Chief White Lightning). Based on the amount of people who gathered in front of the stage when they played, a large number of those in attendance were there for Devil Season. And it’s easy to see why. The band has been working and gigging hard for a few years now, allowing their sound to develop organically. That dedication is paying off.
The Wayfarer Costa Mesa, CA
Players: Nate Jackson, vocals; Paul Beville, bass, keys; Ricky Atallah, drums, keys, bass; Chris Walker, drums, keys