So as probably very few of you know, Destroyer created not only my favorite album of 2011 but one of my most obsessed about records of all time. There’s something simplistic and meaningful about Kaputt that drew me in like no other album I’ve listened to. It was like Bacon & Eggs; basic by design but you keep returning to it because it’s tied to something you find familiar…plus it’s fucking delicious. So I was quite excited to see Dan Bejar and Co. take the Fillmore stage and recreate these songs that I’ve identified with. Plus with my recent discovery of Sandro Perri added to the line-up, it made for a pretty interesting night.
Colossal Yes kicked off the show with a kind of blues based singer-songwriter delivery. It was like if Ben Folds started a moody Allan Brothers influenced coffeehouse act instead of going the pop rock route. Very jammy, very mild, very…normal. Nothing really stuck out and it didn’t fit the on line-up of bands for that night. Maybe opening for a more straight laced act or even headlining a county fair. Not a jab at the band, but each musician seemed to be playing their instruments like they were typing on their laptops; despondent, bored, and somewhat aloof.
Next up, Sandro Perri (OPENING ACT: Sandro Perri) with his style of jazzy and experimental multi-instrumentation that sounds like a fusion style Andrew Bird. Live, the music is tight and calculated which is much thanks to the man himself and his almost effortless way of guiding each song with milky ease. It was easy to enjoy him better on stage rather than on record; for instance with How Will I?, the song was more balanced and each instrument from the flute to the keyboard had their chance to bring the song to life. Afterwards, I found the need to see him perform a long set, since each of his songs average at about 7 minutes (something the Fillmore staff became aggravated over during the last song, which they expressed through a series of very abrasive flash light flickers).
Let’s get this first part out of the way, Dan Bejar entered the stage with two things on his mind;
1) “Sing each of these songs with the lackadaisical effort I’m known for.”
2) “Get drunk enough that no one will know whether of not I’m messing up on purpose or because I’m hammered.”
Heinekens and mixed drinks lined up in front of Bejar as he cruised through each song in a kind of Jack Sparrow-like ballet. Opening with the crowd favorite Rubies and moving onto Savage Night At The Opera, Bejar did his one job well enough, which was to make it through each song without forgetting the lyrics (that didn’t come til later) and express himself with enough fervor to keep the audience roped in. He did well but Bejar was drastically outshined by one very important thing…
When it came to songs like European Oils (from 2006 album Destroyer’s Rubies), Temple (from the 2000 album Thief), and Libby’s First Sunrise (from the 2008 album Trouble In Dreams), Bejar seemed more active on stage. But when it came to songs from his 9th and more recent (and my favorite) album Kaputt, Bejar would finish singing his portion of the song and kneel in front of the stage monitor and drink while the rest of the band would play their hearts out. From Downtown to Chinatown, particularly with the trumpet and saxophone players, the band would perform to such a high level of passion that you almost forgot who the real brain behind Destroyer really was.
After an impressive avant garde-like trumpet solo from one of the band members, the band closed with the amazing Suicide Demo For Kara Walker, which Bejar wandered around stage for most of…in fact I think he left the stage at one point, probably to get more booze. Anyway, the band returned to the stage for the encore which featured the 11 minute song Bay Of Pigs, where Bejar seemed to mess the words up a couple times but still managed to keep up with the chemistry of his band.
Overall, very glad to finally see the band live as they were able to keep the spirit of the songs I love so much alive…even through a drunk haze.