Destroyer at the Crocodile, Seattle | 6 May 2009
There are many times that I go to a gig expecting to be converted and I was hoping that seeing Destroyer live would put me over the top as a fan. It happened last year at the Silver Jews when I saw Dave Berman in person he single-handedly made me a believer. I had a sense that Dan Bejar might be capable of doing something similar seeing him live. I am what you would probably consider a casual Destroyer fan, appreciating the records, and really loving about half of the songs from each one of them. Bejar is capable of totally wowing you with his unique take on pop songs. He totally stole the last New Pornographers album with his Myriad Harbor, and his albums offer similar glimpses to this kind of pop genius, but they also can be excruciating affairs that meander off in strange directions. Destroyer is the primary musical vehicle of Vancouver, BC resident Dan Bejar who also records with various other bands including the afore mentioned New Pronographers with Carl Newman and Neko Case and Hello Blue Roses with his wife Sydney Vermont.
Wednesday night it was Bejar sans band, the lone figure up on the very large Crocodile stage. He wasn’t entirely alone, he had an acoustic guitar and two bottles of Stella Artois from which he drank copiously between songs. Bejar is kind of a gangly strange looking fellow, part hippy, part renaissance man, but his appearance belies his songs which are part Bowie, part Dylan, and part Lawrence (Felt). His set consisted of songs plucked from his extensive catalog of records including some old ones like Destoyer’s the Temple from Thief, Helena and Beggars Might Ride from from Streethawk. He didn’t neglect recent albums playing European Oils and Painter In Your Pocket from Rubies and Foam Hands from Trouble in Dreams. Quiet at first, he started to warm between songs, eventually making fun of us for remembering Bobby McFerrin and then pandering to us with a Sub Pop reference before playing New Ways of Living saying it had appeared as a single in the Sub Pop singles club before it showed up on the Your Blues album. He also gave a shout out to the Amtrak bus which he unconvincingly endorsed as a scenic ride. In short it was a good show, and I’m sure that die hard fans totally appreciated every minute of it, but my status as a casual Destroyer fan remains. Perhaps I need to see Destroyer in full band mode to be fully converted?
mp3: Destroyer – Destroyer’s the Temple (from Thief. Thief and City of Daughters were recently reissued on vinyl, get them from Darla)
mp3: Destroyer – Painter in Your Pocket (from Rubies, Merge is the place to go for most of the Destroyer CD’s)