Destroyer @ Vogue Theatre -- 06/29/12

It was an unusually busy night in Vancouver with over half a dozen good shows going on, but ultimately it was an easy choice: the Vogue Theatre for Vancouver's Destroyer, as part of the Jazz Fest. I hadn't seen Dan Bejar and company in a while, and the Vogue seemed like a perfect place for the band to showcase songs from last year's Kaputt.

Opening the night was another local band, Inhabitants, taking the dimly lit stage and, after a moment to set up, launching into a dark and moody instrumental set. With long songs that ebbed and flowed, the four piece created unique and complex sonic soundscapes. There were a few times, though, that it was a bit too cacophonous; where it seemed like the four members were just playing simultaneously and not playing together, and between songs there were awkward pauses and silences before the next. But otherwise it was very interesting and unique, and I am looking forward to seeing them again.

It wasn't long after that the lights dimmed and recorded music started playing to build the suspense before Destroyer hit the stage. Dan Bejar was joined by seven others to round out the band -- including fellow New Pornographers John Collins and Dave Carswell, as well as Black Mountain drummer Josh Wells -- with a wide variety of instruments from the usual guitars, bass, drums, and keys to saxophone, flute, trumpet and space clarinet EWI.
Starting off with an older track, "Your Blues", the set hit songs off the band's last few albums, including the gorgeous "European Oils" from Rubies, but focused mostly on the newest album, Kaputt. They were even joined by Sibel Thrasher, who sang on the album, for a few songs, her strong and soulful voice adding great depth to songs like "Chinatown".
The notoriously introverted Dan Bejar seemed a bit of a reluctant front man; he can be completely captivating when singing, but didn't talk much otherwise -- aside from the usual thanks-you's to the festival, the venue and the opening act -- and he was frequently crouching down when not singing, to let the rest of Destroyer shine. And shine they did, each member of the band on top of their game.
An incredible trumpet solo, run through all sorts of distortion, lead into the hauntingly beautiful intro to "Suicide Demo for Kara Walker" which ended the set. But they were of course back for the usual encore, with "The Temple", and were about to play one more but were having some technical issues, so Bejar proclaimed they would play the "complete opposite song" -- though assured us it was thematically similar -- and ending the night with "Hey Snow White", exploding into swirling guitar and horns.

I've seen Destroyer a few times now, and this was definitely among the best. Bejar has always been an eccentric and enigmatic individual, but when the band comes together and really clicks, they put on an unforgettable show.

Your Blues, Savage Night at the Opera, European Oils, Chinatown, Blue Eyes, Downtown, Self-Portrait with Thing, Song for America, Rubies, Libby's First Sunrise, Suicide Demo for Kara Walker.
(encore) The Temple, Hey Snow White.