[live review] Destroyer @ the Paradise

Before last night's DESTROYER show, I had my doubts as to whether Dan Bejar was a real person. In the time since its release, last year's Kaputt has ascended to mythical status in my mind. Like, even if you told me that the album was recorded in Vancouver or something, I wouldn't believe you. Its pristine sensibilities are too fanciful for Vancouver. I'd have to suspect Barcelona or Cape Town or Atlantis or some equally enchanted locale. And despite my near deranged intake, I've yet to pinpoint a comparable contemporary piece of work, from any artist really. Even his own prior efforts, while enjoyable in their own right, have trod closer to the "routine indie rock" spectrum than the "transcendent yacht rock" stylings contained herein. Truly impeccable.

But the too frequent issue with such lofty perceptions, as we all know, is you inevitably set yourself up for disappointment. Conversely as it may seem however, quite the opposite occurred inside the Paradise: Bejar only became more cool in my mind, a revelation I didn't suspect possible.

An obvious divide exists within the world of rock frontmen: There's those who bask in their positionality and then there's those that shy from the attention afforded by being the one who gets to say all the words. I suppose the two extremes of this spectrum would probably be David Lee Roth and Maynard James Keenan -- the former with his high-kicks and air-humps; the latter with his opposite of everything the former represents. Of the apprehensive types, there exists another subdivision: The ones who feign introversion because they're douchebags and those who take genuine pleasure in ceding the spotlight to their bandmates.

Fakers need not be mentioned by name, but Bejar is a prime example of the latter latter. Handling only singing (and tamborine) duties in his eight person touring outfit, he would quite literally cede the spotlight anytime he was not using his mic, squatting out of view to sip his beer. Considering the meandering nature of Destroyer's work, this occurred frequently, with Bejar assuming his crouch for at least half of their 90-minute set. And the method proved a success thanks to the lockstep groove of his instrumentalists -- notably Joseph Shabason who deftly switched off between saxophone, flute, and electric clarinet, often mid-song.

Perceived indifference could be one way of viewing his peculiar technique if not for the refined croon that drained through the room every time Bejar opened his mouth. Working leisurely through a majority Kaputt (sans "Bay of Pigs," which was my only real gripe with the gig) while sprinkling in a handful of older numbers, the live Destroyer performance may be a tad off putting for those in attendance not familiar with their catalog, but there didn't seem to be many of those present last night. A couple of especially rapt attendees clamored for "Rubies" throughout the evening, and when Bejar lackadaisically obliged, the crowd responded in an appropriate manner: Reveling in eyes-closed bliss, emulating the inconspicuous frontman in their concealed elation.

(Getting pretty tired of routine phlipcam footage and not owning a cellphone camera worth a shit, I instead opted for a rare MS Paint rendition of the evening's proceedings. You're welcome.)

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