The versatile Devotchka

Four players, 12 instruments, their own odd universe

Gypsy-rock band Devotchka rolls into Belly Up Sunday the 17th.
  • Gypsy-rock band Devotchka rolls into Belly Up Sunday the 17th.

A band named “Girl”: at least that’s what the group’s members (none of whom are Russian, by the way) claim Devotchka stands for in that particular language. No, this is a four-piece based in Colorado, and between them they can play better than a dozen instruments — and they do so in the course of an evening. There’s a pretty broad range therein, anything and everything from theremin to sousaphone to bouzouki to glockenspiel, guitar, and double-bass come to mind, but there’s a lot more. Versatile is a word that many a rock critic has posted in attempts to try to describe this band, but it’s not just about versatility for the sake of it — no, Devotchka music has finally become its own odd universe.

"Till the End of Time"

By Devotchka, from the motion picture <em>Little Miss Sunshine</em>

By Devotchka, from the motion picture Little Miss Sunshine

For a time in their beginning years Devotchka was Dita Von Teese’s backup band, she being a burlesque/fetish/glamour model who gained infamy by marrying, then later divorcing, the musician known as Marilyn Manson. That’s how Devotchka broke out of obscurity, by backing a woman who was known for compressing her rib cage into a very small and painful corset. The band’s musical madness equaled Von Teese’s near-naked fleshy madness, but in the end, the crazed Devotchka performances gained a pint-size following that began to deepen when they got out on their own.

Past Event


  • Sunday, January 17, 2016, 8 p.m.
  • Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach
  • 21+

With tortured, plaintive moaning that passes for vocals, the edges of Devotchka’s musical frenzy are fenced in by the rock-steady beat of their drummer. Each of the musicians was classically trained, but what they create together is a mix-up of klezmer, surf, Balkan folk, tango, polka, mariachi, indie garage rock, a touch of psychedelia, and so on — yeah, it sounds a bit like world music, maybe, but it’s not for the typical world-music fan. I gather Devotchka could care less about keeping anything authentic. This goofball band is the weirdest, most rocking fun since the White Album.

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