On the second night of FRZN Fest held at High Noon Saloon, I was honored enough to witness a brief-yet-candid performance by Okey Dokey, a refreshing showcase by Mega Bog and the experience that was Destroyer.
Mega Bog dawned casual dress, but nevertheless carried a powerful stage presence. With a musical and vocal style reminiscent of Lady Lamb and Amanda Bergman, yet with unpredictable and intrinsic lyricism reminiscent of a Horses-era Patti Smith, the performance felt both authentic and familiar. After the show, I had a brief conversation with the lead singer where I asked her what it was like working with Destroyer. “Working with [Destroyer] is great…Dan is very sweet and caring.”
Destroyer’s performance was great. They remained shockingly true to the sound of their recordings. For the majority of the performance, in a standard Dan Bejar fashion, he carried a grim expression, hardly danced and frequently crouched down to alternate taking sips of one of his two beer cans, a mystery drink, and what appeared to be a Mellow Yellow. To someone who may not have been as familiar with Destroyer’s musical presence, these behaviors could have been perceived as arrogant, unexcited and unenthusiastic about the art they were providing. However, throughout the entire performance I saw smiles and laughs being exchanged between all of the band members, a loving embrace of his own band’s soothing tones as Dan swayed ever so slightly while vocalizing, and an impeccable similarity between their live sound and their recordings — an attribute rare to come by. Destroyer is unique. Dan’s voice is like no one else’s I have ever heard, and their utilization of jazz music, psychedelic pop and shoe-gaze gives them a mighty, wide sound. As a fan of Destroyer’s work, I found the performance to be impactful, yet simple and sonically beautiful.
I stood in the front row at the performance and danced my ass off. My ears are still ringing from the sounds of the trumpet blasts only feet away from my face, and in my head circle brief moments I captured at this show that meant the world to me. The first half of their set seemed to go off without a hitch — each song punctual and more catchy than the last. Moving from the lead single of their latest record Ken’s Tinseltown Swimming in Blood, to Kaputt’s title track, then to Poison Season’s euphoric and loving lead single Time Square was a genius progression of energy that maintained the audience’s momentum. The second half of the show seemed less immediate and more like prog-rock as the songs blended into one. Partially, this was because eight of the fifteen songs they played were from their latest record (which seems to be a record meant to be digested as a whole as opposed to in parts), but also due to the crowd’s longing for tracks from their 2011 magnum opus Kaputt. As they prepared for their encore performance of their early 2000’s hit Hey, Snow White, calls for them to play Suicide Demo from the former could be heard. Few artists that remain touring today have a discography that extends as far back to the mid-1990s, so for a group like Destroyer, producing a setlist that satisfies both fans and their label can be a challenge. Overall, the setlist was well constructed, with only one complaint: We wanted more from Kaputt.
The show surpassed my expectations. Perhaps this was due to my proximity to the actual performance (front row!), my admiration for the band, the similarity between their live sound to their recordings, or even the vivid tones of the trumpet and drums that echoed and overpowered the performance. Regardless of the reason, the show was a hit.