Destroyer was definitely not wasting my day…

Thursday night I had the great opportunity to check out a different sort of indie show than would normally grace the stage of Lee’s Palace. For anyone who knows Dan Bejar and his project Destroyer, knows that their newest album Kaputt is a very interesting change from his older styles. I would like to almost describe it as if Indie rock had a jazzy elevator music feel to it.

I was more curious about who they were going to get to open the show more than anything since they have such a unique seeming style to them. The first artist was Toronto based Mantler. At first glance this group of older, formally dressed men seemed almost like a novelty act. The lead came out in a polyester tux that someone in the 80s would have worn to their prom with thinning hair giving a more whimsical feel to it. He played the piano with light back up accompaniment from the other members of the band and the jazz feel was definitely there. Everyone on stage seemed to be enjoying themselves, but the definite highlight of the set was when he stood up to rap for part of one of their last songs and had the entire audience cheering.

After that were TheWarOnDrugs. Adam (lead singer) caught me by surprise when his voice had a very Bob Dylan-esque quality to it. That voice mixed in with their very indie rock jazzy feel made them perfect for the bill, and it was a good fit since they have been touring with Destroyer for this leg of their tour. Despite needing to ask the sound tech to “turn up the sauce” on every single song so both the audience (and the band) could hear everything that was going on it was a fantastic set. I’m greatly looking forward to seeing them again the next time they come through Toronto.

And of course the highlight of the night was Destroyer. Coming right off the bat by playing Chinatown which is currently charting on CBC Radio 3’s R3-30 playlist they had the audience right in their hands. I was amazed by how calm yet engaged the audience was. Just a nice calm groove while everyone seemed to be enjoying the music as much as I was. Dan seemed a bit grumpy at first, but after sitting down during the instrumental bits of their songs to have  a beer he seemed to get more into it.

By the time they got 5 songs into their set and played the self titled track off their album Kaputt the entire band was all smiles and enjoying themselves as much as we were. It’s always a great treat to see a band of that size on the stage. With Keyboards, Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Trumpet, Sax, and more guitar it was packed and there was a lot of crisp tight sound.

A tad sloppy near the end, almost in true punk fashion which seemed out of place for their particular sound. During their obvious, yet great, choice of Bay of Pigs for their encore Dan had to read some of the lyrics to this very verbose song off a piece of paper while the guitarist chuckled singing along the harmonies and back up vocals. I spoke to several people after the show and a lot of fans were dubbing this the best concert they’ve been to in a long time, and definitely the best of the year so far. I’m hoping that the rest of the 2011 shows I see are up to this caliber, but that’s a high hope that I might end up having to burst my own bubble soon.

Photos courtesy of Rachel Lee Tentcher. See full set of photos from the show on flickr here.

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