Show Review- Destroyer @ The Cedar

Andrew Penkalski

Destroyer’s Tuesday night performance at the Cedar Cultural Center really made me hate the fact that they don’t have more fans. I’m not saying this because I place a high premium on the Vancouver act as a band (even though I do.) I’m saying it because something needs to motivate frontman and singular permanent member Dan Bejar towards a more retrospective performance.  Over the course of their 9 full-lengths, various EPs and early cassettes, Bejar’s pet project has cultivated a notable level of prolificacy since his 1996 debut.  His songwriting is also perpetually evolving. He has slowly evolved from a coarser version of a “Hunky Dory” era Bowie to the muzakky cynicism of his exceptional 2011 release, “Kaputt.” The guy’s put together a helluva catalog, so it made their rushed twelve-song setlist, which failed to dig any deeper than 2004’s “Your Blues,” all the more underwhelming.

The group came on stage to the deadest silence I have ever heard in a venue. Maybe it is the Cedar’s whole elementary school cafegymatorium feel that regresses every attendee to a state of childhood obedience, or maybe Destroyer’s brand of restrained rock just attracts the mild-mannered. The band kept chatter to an extreme minimum as well, keeping it a strictly-business affair. Luckily, the music spoke plenty for itself. Their “Kaputt” interpretations were drastically honest, but the horns sections came to the foreground a bit more in the live setting. Considering the brass is the record’s highlight attribute, their enhancement was a welcome adjustment. They also gave the older material an electrified treatment. The amplified brashness on the originally hushed “It’s Gonna Take an Airplane” was a set highlight.

I’m pretty sure Bejar didn’t speak until the main set’s closer. All he had to say was, “This is our last song. It’s called ‘Song for America.’” It was the only time that he, or really anyone, broke the evening’s vacuum. There is some weird irony in the fact that Destroyer played such a limited collection of songs while still giving plenty of opportunities for heckling. What they did play, however, they played wonderfully. Maybe that alone is what kept everybody so damn quiet.

SETLIST

Chinatown / Blue Eyes / It’s Gonna Take an Airplane / Downtown / My Favorite Year / Kaputt / 3000 Flowers / Painter in Your Pocket / Suicide Demo for Kara Walker / Song For America / Bay of Pigs (Encore)

Photos By: Jules Ameel