devon williams [2009]

The Independent
San Francisco, CA
28 February 2009

I’d heard good things about Devon Williams. Nothing specific that I actually remembered, but good things.

Unfortunately, Williams turned out to be an annoying, obnoxious 16 year-old (probably not his actual age) with a nasally voice; that guy you really hope you weren’t in high school. And understand: one of my favorite singers is John Darnielle, so I clearly have a high threshold for the nasal.

Williams’ downfall is his stage presence, or perhaps more accurately, himself. If he just left his music speak for himself, he would probably be a lot better off. Instead, he seemingly takes every opportunity between songs to insult and annoy the audience. He even went so far as to insult the Noise Pop Festival, which clearly deserved disrespect, for having made the mistake of inviting him.

This is the same guy who (as I later learned) once said: “I am Devon and I have 5 close friends, the rest of the world is divided into the helpers and the clueless.” Maybe it’s all a performance-art-style ironic act. Maybe he’s the new Andy Kaufmann of indie rock. Or maybe he’s just a dick.

I’ll speak only briefly about the music, because Williams himself didn’t allow for much of it to be heard over his between-song-antics. It wasn’t bad. Williams clearly grew up listening to The Smiths, and for many people (including myself), this is a welcome influence. His version is a little safe at times, but still – quite enjoyable.

But all of that is sadly relegated to secondary status by his stage… presence. Here’s my advice to Devon Williams: stop talking between songs. It’s not witty; nor is it banter. Do us all a favor and let your music speak for itself.