“There’s no reason why love and murder can’t go together.”
The matter-of-fact statement overheard in the audience perfectly summarized Atlas’ experience with Amigo the Devil in Tucson. Danny Kiranos, better known by his stage name, brought his aptly named “murderfolk” to a packed Club Congress on Saturday.
Eccentric folk group Harley Poe opened the evening with each member armed with a medieval assortment of instruments (washboard included). They are branded as “acoustic horror folk punk”, with kitschy instrumentals overlayed with dark lyrics about monsters both real and imagined.
Kiranos didn’t make his audience wait long, taking the stage with just a guitar and his trusty banjo. From the first note, the room was enthralled. The diverse crowd rubbed elbows in the confined space, but everyone knew the words and were unashamedly shouting along as Kiranos growled and glared his way through “The Recluse” and “If I’m Crazy”.
Each of his songs tells a story, guiding the listener through tales of romance gone wrong and usually ending in death and violence. His take on serial killers came in the form of “Dahmer Does Hollywood”, a clear fan-favorite.
Kiranos switched effortlessly between a recently purchased replacement guitar (having broken his old one onstage at the previous show) and banjo, turning the lighthearted twang into something far more sinister.
“I’m feeling sassy tonight,” he said, tossing his long hair with a wink after pretending to introduce his band- spoiler alert- “It’s still just me,” he added to a wave of laughter. Between songs, Kiranos was hilarious, his wit and sarcasm balancing the dark overtones of his set.
A staple in every Amigo the Devil set is Kiranos’ choices of cover songs. Dusting off Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, the audience swayed and wept at his powerful rendition. After mixing in “Cocaine and Abel”, he surprised the fans with a medley of tunes with the same chords- Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”, Ginuwine’s “Pony”, Luniz’ “I Got 5 On It” and even “Angel of Death” by Slayer (the folk version).
This cover medley transitioned into “Hungover in Jonestown”, followed by the loudest number of the night, “Hell and You”. By this point, the Tucson crowd was riled up, shouting a mix of compliments and drunken nonsense at the stage. Kiranos grew visibly irritated at the disruptions, but ignored the majority while pounding away on his guitar. Eventually, venue security removed several rowdy fans, allowing Kiranos to close the sold-out show with “The Dreamer” and “I Hope Your Husband Dies”.
Despite a largely disrespectful crowd, Kiranos put on a show like no other. Alone onstage, his presence was mesmerizing, drawing the fans toward the stage like a magnet. After witnessing his unique brand of folk, it’s safe to say that Amigo the Devil’s cult following will only continue to grow.
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel