Occupy Wall Street has become an infectious thing as it has left New York City and traveled to other bigger cities in the United States. Austin is no exception as protestors are stationed both at City Hall and the Capitol, both located downtown just blocks from each other. There is no shortage of people in attendance either. It's a tough time for our generation, like the counter revolution of the '60s, enough people have had enough. No matter how you feel about the subject of protest (I myself see it as a noble cause, but always believe you can do more damage on the inside - it's just how you manipulate and conceal intentions by outsmarting the elders), this is a time where no one is really sure of sufficient way of changing what they are aware is wrong. At our darkest moments of clout, we at least put ourselves out there in some sort of process to move forward. I'm not saying waking up on the steps of a building is going to turn a leaf the next day for an already fucked up system, but once the media grabs a hold of it - people will notice. I wonder how different the counter revolution of the '50s-'60s-'70s would have been with social media for that matter. Do we educate ourselves by talking with these people, or are we just following random posts through a network - whether it's big media or social - I think when emotions tie-in, either side can seem like bullshit propaganda and ruin any sort of positive progress.
The first time I met and talked with Kevin Devine, I had read up on a lot of what he had to say in previous interviews and read lyric after lyric. Aside from what I deemed his songs on life, death and love - he also seemed to have something to say about the political agenda. Of course when I confronted Devine with a question about a conscious agenda, he immediately laughed it off. After talking with Devine tonight and over the last few years, I can see why - there's no agenda in observation. That's what Devine does best as a songwriter, he's able to pen his observations in some of the best songwriting that I think still goes unappreciated by some - but not by many. Devine's approach is in the way he talks to you or a group of people. It's in his laughs and jokes on stage and in his lyrics of finding a certain peace and understanding. Devine's been on the road for seven weeks, and as someone who continues to never let up, I think his travel plays a big part.
I know I'm repeating myself, but Devine has this complete polarizing effect that radiates in his live show - whether it's how he can quiet the crowd with just him and his guitar, or how he lets it all out with a talented band behind him - it just connects in a way that a singer-songwriter should with an audience, a fan or even someone just there for a show. I'm not sure if I noticed it until the other night, or it's always been there and it finally hit me after seeing Devine so many times, but the guy just seems natural on stage. I see so many artists a month and over the course of the year that just seem nervous: "What's the response going to be?" or "I hope we sound good," and "I can't hear myself in the monitor," and so on. Devine has a confidence in his set that resonates the most. It's in how he presents each song as an act with witty monologue in between. Again, he seems like a man with so many questions, but always up for at least discussing answers whether he's right or wrong.
The support for the night displayed both of Devine's live shows - his acoustic urgency and full band swagger. It was my first time seeing The Rocketboys in over a year or so, and it's like they never had the 10 months of writing between them at all. As of now, the band is writing as a trio and they're writing separately instead of together with their new material and hope to have something put together for next year. Even with a fill-in drummer and guitar player, their sound still filled the inside room of Emo's and exhausted the band's lush sound. The guys don't intend on slowing down, but their not looking to be a quick flash in the pan either. We'll all have to stay tuned to see what happens in 2012 for them, but I have high hopes. I caught most of An Horse's set before talking a bit with Devine and some friends. For a duo, their sound carries with duel vocals and furry. Live, the band sound even more lush than on Walls studio sound as Kate Cooper wails out in the songs' choruses. A pretty solid act for this leg of the tour.
It's certainly hard times lately. I myself haven't had the best couple of months behind me, but it's about keeping your head up in it all. For whatever reason, between the people camping blocks away at City Hall or the fact that I have less than nine dollars in my bank account for a couple of days or stress about all the work I have to put out this week and get finished up - it all just went away watching Devine's set.
"Ballgame" was a soothing end to the night, but not before the anguish of "Brother's Blood." I'm not even sure why I keep coming back to see Devine play, why I get excited to just talk with him about politics or music or (for what I didn't bring up) how bad the Jets are doing - but maybe it's because every time we talk, or I hear a new song or read another interview - he always has something insightful to say. There are people (friends in this industry even) that talk with confidence and there are some that talk in an uneasy nature and both seem like they're trying to follow themselves instead of what the conversation has to offer them. Every time Devine has something to say, it's a careful confidence. We're always growing toward a "better," and the only way to stay relevant and genuine is to straddle that line made up of such confidence but a humble undertone. He's a rare personality in a community of sharks, scholars, business and the all encompassed fear that seems to plague my thoughts on a daily basis talking with artists large and small. For that, I will continue to keep in touch with a spirit like Devine, and I hope he continues to do well because of the mentality I see in him.