Destroyer release ken last year to overwhelming positive reviews. The album mixed New Order-esque industrial elements with Daniel Bejar’s signature existential writing style. The subsequent tour sees Bejar taking a full band on the road to help recreate the album as well as a few old favorites.
The show sold out, so the Regent Theater in downtown Los Angeles was packed to the brim with aging hipsters. There were plenty tight pants and ironic facial hair to go around but barely anyone in the crowd looked like they needed to be carded at the door. Opening act, Mega Bog was unlucky enough to play while much of the crowd was still filing in and/or getting their drinks. Singer, Erin Birgy’s voice is dynamic but in a way that goes from operatic to Joni Mitchell-esque. It is never a very loud voice. That did not play well in the room full of people loudly talking or screaming their drink orders. Besides the crowd immediately on the floor, the rest of the venue seemed perfectly okay with ignoring Mega Bog.
As soon as Birgy ended her set, the crowd got serious. People pushed towards the front to get their places for Destroyer. Although missing their starting time by about ten minutes, the band finally filed on to stage followed by Daniel Bejar. The mic stand in the middle of the stage was put all the way down so the microphone was about knee high on Bejar. He crouched down to place his drinks and then grabbed the microphone and stood up as the opening synth-bass to “Sky’s Grey” blared out. Thus began a ran of the first three songs from ken ending with the album standout “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood.” Bejar reached back (not so far back) to play Kaputt‘s titular track and “Times Square” from Poison Season.
Despite Poison Season being his most recent record before ken, “Times Square” was the only track played from the album. As a matter of fact, the set was overwhelmingly made up of selections from ken and Kaputt. Next was another three song run from ken with “Saw You at the Hospital,” “A Light Travels Down the Catwalk,” and “Rome” before Bejar would reach back as far as he would go in his prolific catalog to 2006’s Rubies for “Looters’ Follies.”
The set finished up with two more selections from ken and two more from Kaputt including the closing track “Bay of Pigs (Detail).” The crowd was relatively unphased from Bejar and company walking off stage. There was no real chant for more songs just a collective standing around, knowing that the band would be back soon enough. Destroyer returned to the stage to play two more songs. The first was “Poor in Love” which was roundly enjoyed by all and the final number was a surprise selection of “Rubies.”
It was amazing how much of the crowd did not seem to know “Rubies.” Members of the crowd I saw singing along most of the night stood silent, reserved to just bobbing their head along. Up until that point, I thought it a shame that Bejar didn’t delve deeper into his catalog; I thought a rock version of a selection from Your Blues might have been in play. In the end, I think he got it spot on. The fan base at this show were there mainly for songs written post-2011’s Kaputt and Bejar gave them exactly what they wanted.