. The days leading up to Laura Jane Grace & Devouring Mothers’ much anticipated performance on the JBTV Stage were ones filled with an anxious me, eager and ecstatic to get to witness the band live in action. In preparation, I watched a ton of Devouring Mothers’ music videos, streamed their music, fell in love with their sound, and read tons of articles about the band -- to say that I was excited for the show on Nov. 7th was an understatement.
As soon as the band arrived to the studio, gear in tow, I was dreaming of 12:30 -- the time they were set to grace the stage. With each member showing gratitude for the invite to play on the JBTV Stage and extending their cordialness to each staff member, it further solidified my new love for Laura Jane Grace & Devouring Mothers.
As a casual fan of Against Me! and knowing their immense contribution to the punk community, rock music, and later the LGBTQ+ community, I partially knew what to expect from Devouring Mothers, knowing rock legend, Laura Jane Grace would definitely add her musical flare and insane talent to the new band. I did not realize though that I would be highly anticipating the release of Devouring Mothers’ debut album, Bought to Rot, shortly after the band’s performance ended. However, knowing prior that the band’s debut would be released through Chicago’s own, Bloodshot Records, I was extremely hopeful since the label is highly regarded, not only in the music industry but in the Windy City itself.
During the band’s soundcheck, I had the pleasure to sit through it and witness a sneak peek into their performance. In the past, most bands who have played JBTV simply soundcheck individual elements and maybe play one song. However, after checking their individual instruments and ensuring everything was properly working for the show, Devouring Mothers’ played four full songs during their soundcheck. This made the entire staff of JBTV hyped up for the performance.
After the room filled up to maximum capacity and the entire crowd filled in, the anticipation further heightened. Moment later, Laura Jane Grace & Devouring Mothers walked onto the JBTV Stage and applause erupted amongst everyone present. They kicked off their set with the track, “Manic Depression.” Although it sounds upbeat and fast-paced, when examining the lyrics, it details the story of a protagonist dealing with the issue. Songs like these -- although can be touchy at times -- help listeners realize that they are not alone in times of loneliness and worthlessness and that even musicians struggle with mental health issues.
The band then zipped through songs like “Reality Bites”, “Friendship Song”, and “Born in Black”. All great new tracks from their debut album. They then also included “Hotel Song” and “Amsterdam Hotel Room” -- two track obviously detailing Laura’s experience in hotels. Before playing the songs, she explained how most of her life she spent long periods of time living in hotel rooms, due to life on the road and vast amounts of touring.
Before playing every song, Laura made sure to explain the meaning behind each one, where she wrote them, and what they meant to her. I especially loved her choice to inform the crowd and fans on the true meaning behind Devouring Mothers’ music. Barely any of the artists and bands I’ve witnessed live have ever shared the meaning behind their music with attendees, but Laura made sure to.
As Devouring Mothers’ performance was coming to a close, I was still ready for more. Between drummer, Adam “Atom” Willard’s mesmerizing drummer technique, bassist Marc Jacob Hudson’s insanely catchy bass lines, and of course Laura’s passion and willpower, I was considering making it out to the band’s show at Cobra Lounge later that evening. However, I very surprised to hear the last song the band had in store for all of us, one titled “I Hate Chicago”.
Since I am a Florida-native myself, just like Laura Jane Grace is, and moved to Chicago, like her too, I was shocked to discover a song detailing the grievances about the city I dreamed about living in since I was a child. However, by the end of the song, I was whipping out my phone and downloading it. Instead of a negative, in-your-face song, it was more of a fun song. I found myself laughing at the lyrics, due to the relatability of each phrase spoken. Because yeah, as a recent Chicago transplant, I hate O’Hare, don’t necessarily care about the Smashing Pumpkins, and could care less about the Cubs, the White Sox, the Blackhawks, or the Bulls!
All in all, Laura Jane Grace & Devouring Mothers put on an incredible performance on the JBTV Stage.One I will remember for a long time!
Be sure to stream and purchase their debut album, Bought to Rot, which is out now!
Photo Credit: Katie Hovland + Ava Butera