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Destroyer inspires beer-drop silence at The Independent

DestroyerPhotos by James Nagel // Written by Mike Frash

Destroyer frontman and founder Dan Bejar brought his sparse, solo acoustic interpretation of the Canadian indie act’s music to the Independent Monday (November 4) presented by Noise Pop, and the show did not disappoint. Volume-wise, it was a hushed show, to the point where the success of it relied on rapturous immersion over talking or walking to the bar for more drinks.

Bejar mapped out a simple routine. He would play a song, bow, move to his drink stool to quench his thirst, reposition his moppy hair then repeat. The crowd mimicked Bejar in his restraint when he performed, giving the quietest moments their low-fidelity due. In fact, the audience was so mesmerized and respectful that it inspired beer-drop silence — late in the show, a mesmerized fan slowly spilled his drink onto the floor of the venue for about three seconds by accident, humorously gaining quick glances from those around him.

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The stripped down performance spanned Destroyer’s discography, but many of the songs in the setlist were from Destroyer’s most successful album, 2011’s Kaputt. Take away the drums and saxophone, and unsurprisingly the tone of songs like “Chinatown” and “Savage Night at the Opera” transform into something more cerebral and grim. Destroyer’s vocals and lyrics became the focal point of the performance and the pace of the music slowed down, mutating the cuts into subdued tunes that made them feel more reflective and sad than the full band versions.

Stage banter was almost non-existent, except for a “two-song-left” end of show warning and the introduction to “The Chosen Few”, a song from Destroyer’s 2002 LP, This Night. Bejar said, “This is from when I was bit younger and a bit angrier. Still I wasn’t that angry.” The slowed down focus on the lyrics hit home one of Destroyer’s central themes that our best days are behind us.

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Destroyer’s bitter, post-ironic lyrics become more obvious with only simple guitar chords coalescing with Bejar’s voice. “My Favorite Year” and “European Oils” exemplified how poetic yet fractured Destroyer’s music is — these songs can be taken either literally or figuratively in nature, or perhaps even a combination of the two is apt.

It’s a bit odd Bejar chose a solo acoustic tour to support Destroyer’s upcoming Five Spanish Songs EP — the record covers Spanish language songs from Antonio Luque of the band Sr. Chinarro. To explain why the new material is en Español, Bejar has written:

It was 2013. The English language seemed spent, despicable, not easily singable. It felt over for English; good for business transactions, but that’s about it.

So Bejar shows disdain for his native language, yet he has chosen a method of musical exhibition that puts all attention on his English vocals. There may be a disconnect here, but it’s one that makes for a magnificent show.

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