Leading up to the show, for nearly every “Yeah Destroyer!” tweet in my feed there was usually an accompanying “Yeah The War on Drugs!” tweet following it. A Philadelphian intersection of Dylan-esque vocals and fuzz rock, the four-piece band has been enjoyable each time I’ve seen them (the other being at The Gargoyle opening for The Hold Steady where they had to use a newspaper stand to hold up their keyboard). (Flash fact #1: Kurt Vile was one of the original members of TWOD. Flash fact #2: You probably knew that years ago and I’m the last to discover that.)
Photography notes: Low lights for TWOD, but still doable in the F1.4-1.8 range, with some clean white light helping the left side of the stage. At this point, the crowd hadn’t fully pushed up close to the stage, so there was some room to move, but a small platform extending from the center front basically kept you isolated to one side and a maybe a little farther back than my 30mm would prefer.
Destroyer has put out nine studio albums, but their latest, Kaputt is my first. As well, my experience of front man Dan Bejar is limited to just my questions of “Who’s that guy who keeps walking off stage?” when I saw the New Pornographers for the first time last year.
Not coming in as an established Destroyer fan, I’d say my first experience of them would be completely different depending on whether I judged by my ears or eyes. My ears enjoyed the smoky 80’s soft-rock vibe with the plethora of instruments (especially the sax attack) coming together and Bejar’s relaxed vocals keeping everyone listening in. But visually, I still have a hard time getting over Bejar’s detached demeanor. It’s a personal hang-up for sure, but it distracted me during The New Pornographers show and was hard to ignore being so close to him this time. I get that Bejar wants to win you over with the music and not flashiness, but I think I’m always wanting more interaction from my bands. Sure it’s not like I want him to do backflips off the drum set (…or do I?), but I wish his delivery was more engaging. Most other reviewers celebrate Bejar’s delivery, so I’m sure I’m in the minority.
But as to not sound so negative about the show, I still enjoyed it over all. It was still some great music, and after the show I was told how he was one of the nicest musicians to play there.
Photography notes: Destroyer turned out to be a challenging shoot. The dark room (which I admit did match the mood) made me push my ISO even higher than I usually go (even at F1.4) to try and grab any available light. Also, with most of the band were spread across the stage and the crowd pushed in at this point, it was tough getting a good shot of anyone else besides Bejar and the saxophonist without abandoning your spot up front. Thankfully Bejar’s lack of movement allowed for some lower shutter speed to compensate for the low light.
-8 PM start time. 2 bands. Done a little after 10 PM. This old man loves that.
-The venue serves Urban Chestnut beer. Now that I’ve had a few, I have to say I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit.
-Word from the sound check was that Destroyer jokingly thought Bejar should do his set seated on a couch on stage. That would have been pretty awesome.
-The next show I’ll be covering at the Luminary is the Lightning Bolt show. That should be nuts and hopefully no art will get destroyed during the carnage. (Note: They’re hosting The Joy Formidable the night before, but I can’t make that one.)
Other coverage (let me know if I’m missing anyone):
-Allyssa Ohlman covers the show for Eleven Magazine.
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