*Proof of Covid-19 vaccination required for entry*
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8PM – Doors
9PM – Bnny
10PM – Dehd
“I want nothing more than to be alone,” Emily Kempf sings early in Flower of Devotion, the third album by Chicago trio Dehd. It’s a startling admission coming from a songwriter who, just a year ago on Dehd’s critically acclaimed Water, wrote eloquently about the joys and pains — more than anything, the necessity — of love, compassion, and companionship. But then, “admission” isn’t really the right word here, given the stridency of Kempf’s tone. “Loner” is a declaration.
Not only for Kempf, who, when she wasn’t on the road with Dehd, spent much of the last year or so “totally alone, out of the game, just focused on myself,” as she puts it. It’s also a showcase for guitarist Jason Balla and drummer Eric McGrady, for the way the three of them play together, and for the seemingly impossible strides Dehd has made as a group in the short time since Water’s release. “We wanted to take a step up,” Kempf says. “We wanted to level up enough to where we feel powerful, but still in the same ballpark.”
Level up they did. In seemingly every way imaginable, Flower of Devotion is a major step forward — and a major statement, period — for Dehd. The songs show off a deeper range, from “Loner”’s synth-powered heartland rock to the empowered strut of opener “Desire” to the from-the-gutters howl of closer “Flying.” The performances are sharper, shot through with emotional clarity. The production, courtesy of Balla, shades everything in rich sunset tones. Flower of Devotion seems drawn from a well of confidence much deeper than the one they’d tapped on Water.
That’s not a coincidence. The trio went into the album’s writing and recording with clear minds, ready to take what they’d learned the last time around and refine it further. “We’re learning by the process of doing and doing and doing,” says Balla. “The last record, the vibe was ‘How minimal can it be? What’s the minimum that a song requires to succeed?’ This one was like, ‘How can we make this thing that’s really powerful?’” “We didn’t become more perfectionist,” Kempf clarifies. “We’ve always been really scrappy, but we decided to polish our scrappiness just a little bit.”
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