Destroyer played Brighton Music Hall – 4/6

Destroyer mastermind Dan Bejar brought a solo(ish) iteration of his long-running band to Allston with support from Lightning Dust.


Destroyer has taken on many forms over the course of its nearly three-decade existence as the main outlet for Canadian singer/songwriter Dan Bejar’s poetic musings. From the glam-indie of guitar-heavy slabs like Destroyer’s Rubies to Your Blues‘ MIDI orchestration, Kaputt‘s soft-rock re-contextualizing and the fractured synthpop of recent years, Bejar has always been willing to follow his sonic muse to new and adventurous places. One version of the band we don’t hear so much from these days is one of its earliest: the strum-y, stripped-down sound circa 1998’s City of Daughters. For the heads, this makes one of Bejar’s rare “solo” tours – which pull from his entire catalog in the troubadour format – an ever-intriguing proposition.

I say “solo” of course because Bejar was joined by longtime guitarist David Carswell on this run, but the spirit was still very much that of an independent, intimate venture. Over the course of an hour and change last Saturday, Bejar took us on an appropriately sprawling tour of his career, touching on both full-band setlist staples and rarely-played oldies. Owing to the exclusively acoustic/electric guitar instrumentation, arrangements varied from the familiar (the already-minimal “Helena” or “Foam Hands”) to the wholly reinvented (formerly synth-washed “Tintoretto, It’s for You”). The combination put a fresh face on latter-day tracks where Bejar otherwise tends to cede the spotlight to the band, and offered up a healthy portion of deep cuts that never make it to the ensemble shows at all. It was also a chance to zero in on Bejar’s enigmatic, eminently-quotable lyrics, which are, after all, the lynchpin of the entire Destroyer universe.

Though he’s famously something of a closed vault on stage, sporadic quips and commentary throughout the show did offer a bit more audience interaction than the average Bejar gig. The set-closing “Don’t Become the Thing You Hated,” for instance, he revealed to be a song he wrote specifically with endings in mind. Carswell, for his part, stoically but skillfully colored in the material with both texture and the essential electric leads on tracks like Streethawk‘s “Sublimation Hour” or Rubies‘ “Watercolours into the Ocean.”

For both the diehards and the more casual fan (though there did not appear to be a whole lot of those in this reverent crowd), it was a wholly delightful evening with a seldom-seen side of one of indie’s most consistently surprising and fascinating bands.

Fellow Canadians Lightning Dust – a side-project of psych-rockers Black Mountain – opened up the night with a set of their haunting, minimalist folk-rock. Check out photos from both sets below.