While maybe not as ominous as they’re name might indicate, Murder By Death is not a band for the faint of heart. Often brooding, soaked in whiskey, and enigmatically and entertainingly anachronistic, Murder By Death turn old concepts of good and evil into often chilling, mysterious aural histories – some albums are cohesive narratives, some contain singular, but always poetic chapters from various unknown lives.
Marking their second performance in Cincinnati this year, Murder By Death will be headlining one of Friday night’s largest MPMF venues, the Taft Theater Ballroom. Along with opener Nicholas David, from Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons from Wisconsin, Friday at the Taft Theater Ballroom will be a night of soulful exploration and good old fashioned Rock ‘n Roll.
For well over 10 years, Bloomington, Indiana’s Murder By Death have been crafting albums full of sorrow an darkness, framed within complex arrangements that not so subtly echo sounds from bygone, maybe even forgotten eras of music. Old-timey piano and stirring cello feature heavily on many of their most notable tracks, while electric guitar anchors many of the tracks even in the midst of accordion bursts and ghostly gang vocals. Vocalist Adam Turla barrels through various pieces of the bands’ catalog with is deep, rich, and surprising subtle vocal stylings, while at other times providing a quiet, palpable sense of anguish for others. But for all the weight their albums carry, their live show is anything but heavy. Entertaining, adventurous, and purposefully executed, the band has perfectly blended their signature sound with modern expectations to create what I can only describe as a “journey.”
Having seen Murder By Death almost a dozen times over the past decade or so, I can safely say that this will be one of the highlight performances of a festival full to bursting with highlight performances. No matter where else I might find myself throughout the evening on Friday at MPMF, I know I’ll be ending it at the Taft Theater Ballroom with one of my all-time favorite bands and live acts.