Destroyer @ Biltmore Cabaret -- 07/17/09

It was night two of the Dan-Bejar-Fest, having seen him contributing to The New Pornographers (while opening for Death Cab) the previous night. I had seen Destroyer a couple times prior, once at a sold out show at the Commodore and once as part of the Stanley Park Singing Exhibition at Malkin Bowl and so I was actually a little confused as to why they would play the Biltmore, a venue that holds less than 400 people... but since I enjoy the place so much, I didn't think too hard about it.

The first band of the night was Attics & Cellars and the best way to describe them is a five-piece Final Fantasy (Owen Pallett, not Squaresoft). They had the same kind of light and strings-y sound, with the band consisting of a couple violins, cello, drums & on keyboard and vocals was Jason Zumpano, a Vancouver musician who has worked with the likes of Carl Newman (in one of his pre-New Pornos band) & Destroyer. They had a very interesting set, in that as soon as the curtain opened, they started playing, and did not stop until they were done, half an hour later. It was either one really long song, or they just flowed everything together extraordinarily well. That's not to say it was repetitive or anything, as there were distinct differences between songs, but I don't think I've ever seen a band just play a solid set like that. At the end they just announced their name and left the stage. It was not only really interesting, but quite good as well. I don't think I saw an album there for purchase, but I really wish I had been able to pick one up. I can't wait to see these guys again.
(I also just found out, in doing my "research" after writing this, that on the cello is none other than Megan Bradfield, who I am of fan of and has worked with such artists as Limblifter, AC Newman, The Awkward Stage, and Matthew Good!)

Second up, hitting the stage around 10:45 (in contrast, that was about the time the previous nights show was ending) was another Vancouver band, The Shilohs.They were... fine. Maybe a on the bland or generic side. They had the whole blues-rock thing going, and while there was certainly nothing wrong with them, it was nothing I haven't heard other bands do better.

And finally, going on at around quarter to midnight, was Destroyer. Or rather, I should say Dan Bejar. He took the stage alone and with an acoustic guitar and proceeded to play what was pretty much an acoustic set! I wasn't sure how a lot of his songs would work that way, as some songs can be quite dense, but I should have known better than to doubt Bejar. There were, obviously, subtle differences in the songs, but everything turned out great; even things like the piano heavy European Oils (a song that I had not seen him do live before!) sounded completely natural and fantastic. I have often proclaimed my opinion of Bejar as a musical genius (albeit one that may border on insanity), and seeing him solo on stage was just further proof of that.
Playing a great range of old and new songs -- and even throwing in one of his New Pornographers contributions, Streets of Fire -- he seemed very relaxed and almost as if he was making the set up as he went along. At one point he stopped and asked for requests, saying he would play "anything". Since he is notoriously shy or untalkative, though, he didn't say too much, rather was just content to play. He was on for just shy of an hour before his "encore" of a couple more songs than taking off into the night.

Another fantastic night of music, with the discovery of Attics & Cellars, and a great surprise to see Bejar acoustic, since I was naturally expecting a full band to be with him. Especially in a setting that intimate. Now it makes sense why the show was at the Biltmore, since I don't know how well that type of show would have worked at a bigger venue.