Archive for April 25, 2008

Destroyer and Andre Ethier @ The Bowery Ballroom. Wednesday April 23rd, 2008.

Posted in music, shows, Tom with tags , , , , on April 25, 2008 by criticalreviews

When Destroyer comes to town he draws with him friends of ours from all over the country, to see the show and crash on our couches…company is always fun, but that usually means drinks before the show and in this case missing Colossal Yes…but that was fine. We got to the show around 10ish and Andre Ethier went on right after we got drinks.

Ethier was backed by a full band (bass, guitar, drums, saxophone, flute, and keys), but it was easy to tell he was the leader. Musically they sounded a lot like Bob Dylan, and if you like bands that sound like Dylan you will probably dig his stuff. He was charismatic, and the crowd seemed to be really into him. Ethier and his band were entertaining to watch, but not really something that I would find myself listening to at home.

Destroyer was up next, and we made our way to the stage before he started. Since the show was sold out, and we were rolling deep (there were five of us), I never thought that we would get up as close as we did but we were able to stand just to Dan Bejar’s right and watch him do his thing. His backing band was a guitarist, bassist, keyboards, and a drummer. I had read this review of the show from the night before:

Understandably so, there is a tendency to conflate Destroyer and Dan Bejar, but in concert there is no question that they are a band, and not simply a solo act in disguise. Indeed, Bejar has an extremely commanding presence on stage with his floppy mop of hair, carefully crafted persona, and distinct vocal styling, but last night, he was frequently upstaged by Nicolas Bragg’s gorgeous renderings of his songs’ achingly romantic lead guitar parts, and Fisher Rose’s jaw-dropping performance on the drums…In lesser hands, much of Bejar’s work could collapse into self-parody and pastiche, but his bandmates hold it together, resulting in deliberately pretentious romantic pop ballads of uncommon grace. [Fluxblog] [reposted on BV]

And I agree that the band was really tight…but I have seen Bejar play with at least 4 or 5 different backing bands, and while they are all different I don’t think that any of them let his songs fall by the wayside. And if people are saying that this current backing band is upstaging Bejar, I would have hated to see what they had to say when he toured with Frog Eyes backing him (it was really crazy to watch Bejar and Carey Mercer ons tage together)… totally amazing. Needless to say I thought Bejar played great, and his band accompanied him nicely.

This set was about an hour and a half long (including a short encore), with the beginning consisting mainly of songs of of Trouble in Dreams, but about five songs into the set Bejar (who had been soft spoken until this point) said:

“this song is off of Your Blues, you probably haven’t heard it.”

It might be me just thinking about it too hard, but it made me wonder if this tour was the first that he had sold out, or headlined, a date in New York (please correct me if that is wrong)…I was wondering if Trouble in Dreams brought in a significantly larger fan base? After that song was finished they went directly into “Trembling Peakcock.” I recognized it right away (being that it is my favorite), but taking a quick look around the crowd very few people seemed as moved as I was by this gem off of This Night (hence my take that alot of the crowd were newer fans). They did not play anything that was older than This Night (which I kind of expected being that Bejar has a different band each time he tours). As mentioned the set consisted mainly of songs off the new album, a couple off of Your Blues, maybe one off of Rubies (not sure), “Trembling Peacock”, “Self Portrait With Thing (Tonight Is Not Your Night),” and finished the encore with “Modern Painters”. Seeing them play these three off of This Night really made my night, and I would have been totally happy if they would have walked off stage after “Trembling Peacock.”

Bejar carried his signature aloof persona, and let the rest of the band be a little chatty with the crowd. The band seem to be very good friends passing around a bottle of Jameson’s whiskey that Bejar brought on stage, and even sharing beers. I really enjoyed the show…it actually left me wondering why the Bowery Ballroom show sold out so fast, and the MHOW show didn’t sell out (I’m sure it was just as good, and they played “Crystal Country”)? I am excited to finally own Trouble in Dreams, they were selling copies of the 180 gram 2xLP that Merge put out! This show really makes me look forward the the Merge 20th Anniversary next year (Merge 15 was great! I hope they do another anniversary weekend). Oh Destroyer.

Listen to Destroyer Here.

(Photos by J. Russell <via flickr>)

(Tom)