There are some bands that can never quite capture the feel of their live shows in the studio. The California acoustic folk punk act The Devil Makes Three is such an act.
The band’s four studio albums are good, but none fully capture the energy and rawness of a Devil Makes Three live show, like the one that will be on Wooly’s stage Wednesday. With the group’s latest release, “Stomp and Smash,” they sought to rectify that. The solution? A live album.
“We’re sort of on an unending quest to capture what it’s like to see us live. I’m not sure that’s possible, so people just have to come to the show,” said guitarist Peter Bernhard. “A lot of people record our shows, which we’ve always encouraged, and spread them around. This is like an original bootleg versus people taping it themselves.”
Bernhard’s favorite live album is Townes Van Zandt’s 1977 album “Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas.” Bernhard said the album is probably his favorite of Van Zandt’s discography, due to the intimacy and the feeling it gives that you’re there at the show.
As musicians perform the same songs night after night, they change and evolve slightly. Some of the changes are to prevent the boredom that can come with such repetition, and some are just unconscious things that work their way in over the years. The Devil Makes Three’s self-titled debut is now 10 years old, and Bernhard and guitarist/banjo player Cooper McBean added a third member, Lucia Turino on bass, since then.
“Stomp and Smash” lets The Devil Makes Three update where they are now musically.
“It’s a natural thing when you’re playing to keep your songs changing,” Bernhard said. “Our songs have all changed over the years and will continue to change. I think that’s the reason I want to see a band live. It’s cool to then listen back to their albums and hear how they’re different.”
The live album features two new songs, “This Life” and “They Call That Religion.” Bernhard said The Devil Makes Three plans to record those songs for the band’s next studio album. In that case fans will be able to track their evolution in the reverse of most of the songs on “Stomp and Smash.”
The trio’s current tour includes stop at Wakarusa and Bonnaroo and they played the legendary Newport Folk Festival in March. As they switch between festival dates and club shows like this one, The Devil Makes Three shows have to change quite a bit from day to day.
“If we’re playing some bluegrass festival, we might play more country or covers that are not normally in the set,” Bernhard said. “If we’re playing at noon, it’s a different feeling than a late night gig. But we change our set pretty much every time we play. We’re always adjusting things depending on where we’re playing and who we’re playing with.”
The Devil Makes Three
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Wooly’s, 504 E. Locust St.
Cost: $12.50 in advance, $15 at the door