Show Review: Destroyer @ The Mohawk (2/25)

Last Wednesday, we were treated to an evening of tunes from the legendary and mystical Dan Bejar. Riding high off the well receivedHave We Met, Bejar returned to the Mohawk to a nearly sold out crowd. After years of creating tunes largely under the radar, and really seeing his breakthrough record around a decade ago, I was pleased to see so many people brought back once more, or perhaps out to see Destroyer for the first time.

Click past the jump for words on the evening and some photos.

With every new Destroyer album, it seems we find Dan Bejar starting from scratch and reinventing his own brand of weirdo indie rock. Over the course of a 20+ year musical career, we’ve been down several different musical alleys with Bejar, all of which center around his unique ability to spin brilliantly quick lipped tunes. This was no exception with his most recent,Have We Met,that arrived earlier this year to high praise. I was interested to see how these tunes from the most recent record that span the range from the extroverted tunes like “Crimson Tide” and introverted ones like “The Man in Black’s Blues.” Having seen Destroyer on the last touring cycle for Ken, I knew we were in for a night of no-nonsense tunes, letting the music be the true star of the show, and Bejar did not disappoint.

Taking the stage, hand in his pocket, scarf wrapped tightly around his neck, Bejar assumes his position slightly off center stage. He plucks the corded mic from the cane-like, half raised mic stand, surveys the crowd with stony eyes and that’s where Bejar would remain the rest of the night. The band opened with “Crimson Tide,” “Kinda Dark,” and “The Raven,” three solid tracks from the latest record. From the first swirling notes of “Crimson Tide,” we immediately followed Bejar down the rabbit hole and into his universe. The swagger of “Crimson Tide” was a great opening tune–enough of a bounce to get the crowd going and ease us slowly into a simmer of sonic smoke.

After the ever wistful “The Raven,” with its prominent and evocative piano lines, we were taken back through some of the older tunes from previous releases, like “Tinseltown Swimming In Blood,” and “In The Morning,” both of which just simply explode in the live setting. “Tinseltown Swimming In Blood” features a lovely drum solo at the end to close our the tune, and “In the Morning” Brings more of a wall of sound snarl that you don’t quite get on the album version. The new tracks shined just as brightly as the past favorites. “Cue Synthesizer,” felt as close as Destroyer could ever get to a jam band, of course behind a thick wall of their own sinister irony.

With each different song from the expansive collection, we were met with an unchanging Bejar– collected and stoic on the stage, his voice the only thing that showed any emotion. He propped himself on the mic stand, took part in no stage banter in between songs, and simply disappeared into the songs, as if any sudden movement would break the enchantment and we’d be snapped back into the regular plain world. His voice ranging from biting and harsh to a wisp of smoke, sometimes in the same line, delivered his beat poetry with intention and finesse. I was especially enamored with “Suicide Demo For Kara Walker” and “Foolssong” which both are enshrouded in a thick layer of atmospheric ambient fog, but find Bejar quite rambling on the former and concise on the latter.

To classify the music of Destroyer as weirdo indie rock is, of course, a gross bastardization of the brilliance of the tunes. To the world outside of Destroyer, this generalization may seem comfortable; If you were to view the show last Wednesday as an outsider, you might have been confused, or bewildered that so many people were huddled in the chilly February night air to listen to the mutterings of a drunken mad man. But for those who have found themselves sucked into the alternate reality of Bejar and company, you know that this is the true magic of the music. We have found something illuminating in Destroyer’s world, or perhaps the lens through which Bejar sees our world and spits it back out to us is what is so illuminating… “Just look at the world around you…actually no don’t look!”

Photos by the new to the ATH Team Marshall F Walker.

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