Vancouver-based singer-songwriter Dan Bejar has generated a certain level of notoriety over the past 15+ years as one of the creative cogs within Canadian indie rock supergroup The New Pornographers. However, it is the band Destroyer that has been, and remains, his primary creative output. Bejar has written and recorded 12 albums with Destroyer over the past two decades, and while it may appear to be a solo-project on the surface, Destroyer, despite its many lineup changes, has been and remains a collaborative musical project. Last October saw Destroyer’s most recent album, Ken, released by Merge Records. While Destroyer have mined a varied and eclectic set of influences over their catalog, including rock, jazz, and baroque pop, Ken finds the band moving in a more synth-laden and electronic direction with a definite tip of the hat to New Order during their 80’s heyday. The result is a solid addition to the Destroyer catalog, and perhaps one of the most accessible albums so far.
After closing out last year with a series of European dates, Destroyer have started 2018 back out on the road with a trek through North America. The tour kicked off earlier this month in Portland and is set to wrap up in Vancouver on February 9th. We caught the show when the band rolled into Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro NC.
Opening the show was Mega Bog, the moniker of multi-instrumentalist Erin Birgy. With both the temperature and the audience in the Cradle a bit cooler than normal, Birgy and her bandmates had their hands full. After a slow build up and a few nervous comments between songs, Mega Bog found their groove with each new jazzy guitar-based glam influenced pop song. The crowd responded, moving closer and more than a few started tapping their feet and nodding their heads in appreciation. Their set featured songs from recent release, Happy Together, and by the time Mega Bog had wrapped up, that’s exactly how the band and the audience found each other.
Destroyer took that stage for their set without much fanfare. As the band took their places, Dan Bejar casually strode to the front and knelt down beside his mic stand that stood no taller than waist height, he placed two beer bottles beside the stand, and ran his fingers through his mop of curly hair. As he looked into the faces at the front of the crowd, the band eased into “Sky’s Grey,” followed by “In The Morning,” the two tracks that open Ken. The live incarnation of Destroyer on stage mimics the dynamic of their albums. Bejar remains the focus, front and center, as he almost casually delivers his vocals, with the band consisting of a trumpet player, bassist, two guitarists, keyboard player, and drummer surrounding him both physically and musically. The set focused on the new songs from Ken, and didn’t often drift further back than the two previous albums, Poison Season and Kaputt. Some of the highlights included “Times Square,” “Kaputt,” and “Chinatown.”
Dan Bejar is not your typical frontman. He kept his crowd interaction and between song chatter to a minimum, often kneeling down between songs, closing his eyes, and taking a slow drink from one of the beer bottles at his feet. He appeared to lose himself in the performance and while not grabbing the audience with overt Rockstar swagger, he was every bit as charismatic. The band closed out the evening with “Stay Lost,” followed by “Bay Of Pigs,” and the show ended as it began… Without fanfare. Sometimes all you need is the music, delivered with a dose of conviction, and that’s exactly what Dan Bejar and Destroyer gave the crowd.
Destroyer + Mega Bog @ Cats Cradle – January 30th 2018