Friday, March 18, 2011

Destroyer @ Commodore -- 03/17/11

I have always felt that Dan Bejar rides that line between genius and insanity, and Destroyer has always fascinated me. Having seen them live a few times before, it's always been a different show -- including one show that was just Bejar solo and acoustic -- and the new album, Kaputt, takes such a different direction that I really wasn't sure what to expect from the show.

First up though, was Blackout Beach, who I was quite excited to see. The band is a solo project of Carey Mercer (who you may better know from Frog Eyes or Swan Lake) and I hadn't seen him play, in any incarnation, in a couple years. The band consisted of Mercer, with a keyboarsist and drummer, so the set was pretty minimal, and a little calmer than his other works. The songs were quite catchy, and nothing you wouldn't expect from Mercer, and even though it was more chill, he had no less energy on stage. Despite a couple lulls between songs, when he was playing, Mercer had a pretty song stage presence, and even stronger voice. A few times he stepped back off the mic and just let loose.
The set was only about a half hour, and it would have been nice to see some more, but it definitely had me wanting to see Frog Eyes again.

After a pretty quick turnaround, it was time for The War On Drugs. They had a more pop-rock sound, that I was actually not expecting from their name, or look. It was pretty catchy, and aside from one misstep at the start of a song, they were quite musically adept, but it didn't really do anything for me. A few of the songs sounded a bit similar, and the lead singers voice didn't really have too much range. It was Perfectly Acceptable Music, but not much more.

And then was Destroyer, as Bejar and the band of eight came out of the fog to take the stage. The band included horns, keys and one member who occasionally playing the trumpet at they keys at the same time.
The set started off with the first couple songs off of the new album, Kaputt, and while there were a few older songs, they focused mostly on that. Because of this, the show was a bit more slow and relaxed, given the albums more jazzy influence. Though not completely mellow, as midway through the set, they launched in to "3000 Flowers", one of my favourite Destroyer songs, and one I have never seen played live. It was, however, a bit odd, with Bejar reading the lyrics off of a piece of paper, but it was an incredible song otherwise. Probably my favourite of the main set, along with the hauntingly beautiful "Suicide Demo for Kara Walker"
And then came the encore, with Bejar joking if we had half an hour to kill, and then the familiar strains of "Bay of Pigs" starting. I was pretty thrilled at that, as I adore the song and I wasn't sure if they'd be playing it live in its 12 minute glory. It wasn't perfect, though; a little bit into the song there was a bit of a mixup, and at least twice Bejar started to crack up while singing -- and a little more of reading the lyrics during a portion of the song -- but those small things really didn't detract from the song too much, and it was still pretty incredible to hear live. I'm just wondering, since this was the first show of the tour, if it was maybe the first time they had played it live.

In all, though, it was a pretty great show. Two songs I did not really expect to hear live, and some incredibly talented musicians sharing the stage.

setlist
Chinatown, Blue Eyes, It's Gonna Take An Airplane, Downtown, Savage Night At The Opera, Certain Things You Ought To Know , Kaputt, 3000 Flowers, Painter In Your Pocket, Suicide Demo For Kara Walker, Song For America.
(encore) Bay of Pigs.

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