Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Love this review! Destroyer show was a grand time! Dan Bejar is gentleman. Thanks Trent!

Review and Photos: Destroyer and John Wesley Coleman at The Belmont

The contrast between last night's performances from Austin local John Wesley Coleman and Canadian "indie mainstay" Destroyer (Dan Bejar) could not have been more stark. For some bills, contrast is exciting and new, where the opener is not simply a student of the headliner but last night was something else altogether. Coleman is certainly not your carbon-copy opener but was definitely a perplexing choice for Bejar's solo acoustic performance at The Belmont.
Coleman and the friend accompanying him on guitar seemed to be playing a confusing practical joke on the crowd (and partly themselves). His songs, based around one or two clever lines, got the audience chuckling but it sounded like he and his friend were rarely playing from the same setlist and it was hard to tell, at times, when they were warming up and when a new song began. Coleman's buddy soloed the night away and occasionally cooed into the mic while Coleman dutifully strummed at his First Act guitar and sang mostly unintelligible lyrics. They even ran out of songs with time left in their set and seemingly just made the rest of the set up. They appeared, after all, to be having fun up there. After a smattering of applause, the night took a much needed (and expected) left turn.
To say Dan Bejar's career is predictable would be incorrect but he certainly knows where his strengths lie. His output has spanned a myriad of genres and sounds from the synth-driven Your Blues to the soft jazz-rock ofKaputt, but he seems most in his element when he's playing solo acoustic sets. His setlist was a "greatest hits" of sorts for a man who has never had a "hit" (and doesn't need one) but even then he could've pulled another 20 songs from his catalog and still had people singing along. Destroyer fans respond with bated breath to his stoic stage presence, hoping to glean some insight from the man in front of them, and soaking it up when it comes: "Here's a song from the '90's... That was a hot decade," was met with gleeful laughs.
Bejar was as animated as ever, which isn't saying much. He's at the top of his game when his music is stripped down and that's an understandably vulnerable place to be. A good handful of the crowd knew most every word to all of his songs with the exception of a brand new tune and "Bye Bye" from his Five Spanish Songs EP, of which Bejar admitted he can't really understand half. He is ever-transforming and moving back again, never forgetting his roots and the songs that read and sound like classics to the initiated. Throughout the evening, audience members shouted out requests but Bejar never responded and kept to his setlist. Having penned so many songs with twisting, nebulous lyrics, it's easy to see why he wouldn't take requests. I often wonder when the music will stop for musical workhorses like Bejar but it seems as though he won't be going anywhere for a while and that's just fine with me.
Photos and words by Trent Lesikar

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