Saturday, October 10, 2015

Destroyer at The Loft, Atlanta, October 9, 2015

On a night of tough Rocktober choices, I made what I think was the right but difficult move last night and chose to go see Destroyer and Jennifer Castle at The Loft over the tempting option of Wild Ones and Pure Bathing Culture at The Drunken Unicorn.  Rationale: I've seen Wild Ones once before and Pure Bathing Culture at least twice maybe three times now and although Destroyer has been around for some 20 years, I've never seen them live.  The Unicorn is a more intimate venue to see a performer up close and personal, but on the other hand, The Loft isn't exactly cavernous, even if the stage is small.     

So I found myself at The Loft just a few minutes after the doors opened and got there in time to get a stage-front spot right at the center monitor to see opener Jennifer Castle.   

Castle is a Toronto singer-songwriter who's songs require more attention than most of the audience was wiling to give her.  Her songs and her singing rewarded close attention and transcended the austerity of folk music by interesting flourishes of flute and synthesizer provided by her band.  

Unfortunately, most of the audience wasn't interested in giving Castle the attention she deserved, but to her credit, she proceeded through her set despite all of the noise - talking and even outright shouting by the audience - even singing one song a cappella amid the roar and the din of the crowd. The audience did finally settle down and listen toward the end of her set, and she was both grateful and gracious for the late attention she finally received.

This, however, was a Destroyer crowd, and what they denied to Castle they paid in heaps to the headliner.  Destroyer, of course, is fronted by the New Pornographers' resident genius Dan Bejar, and writing in Brooklyn Vegan, Bill Pearis described the recent Destroyer show in New York's Webster Hall as follows:
"With an big, multi-piece band, including trumpet player J.P. Carter (so key to the 2011 Kaputt tour), Bejar stuck mainly to new album Poison Season which sounded pretty great in the live setting. Like usual, Bejar spent time not singing crouched on the stage, swigging a beer, and taking in the sound of the band." 

Bejar, who claims to be able to play guitar and piano (and I have no reason to doubt him), provided vocals for a backing septet (drums, bass, two guitars, keys, sax, and trumpet).  I found it interesting that a singing bandleader allowed so much time for his backing band to play.  As Pearis notes, the trumpet player JP Carter was the stand-out instrumentalist, alternating between playing melodic solos and providing bizarre washes of ambient soundscapes by running his trumpet through an elaborate, stand-mounted pedal board.

Being right up front, mere feet away from Bejar, I got to peek at the set list, which went as follows:
  1. Bangkok
  2. Forces From Above
  3. Savage Night at the Opera
  4. Euro Oils
  5. Chinatown
  6. It's Gonna Take an Airplane
  7. Modern Painters
  8. Looters' Follies
  9. Times Square
  10. Midnight Meet the Rain
  11. Poor In Love
  12. Hell
  13. Kaputt
  14. Dream Lover
The set list was very similar and actually a little longer than that of his Webster Hall show, which was captured and posted by the good folks over at NYC Taper.

So, to summarize, a great, great show by a musical genius who right at this moment is probably at the peak of his game.  I'm sure the other show last night was great too, but to quote Edith Piaf, je ne regrette rien.

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