Review + Setlist: Destroyer and the War on Drugs at Luminary Center for the Arts, Monday, March 28

Mar 29, 2011 at 11:08 am
Destroyer's Dan Bejar - Jon Gitchoff
Jon Gitchoff
Destroyer's Dan Bejar
A few years have passed since the last Destroyer date in St. Louis, 2008 if memory serves, during the exquisite tour for the Trouble in Dreams album. Dan Bejar, the band's singer and songwriter, did saunter on and off stage during the New Pornographers' 2010 appearance at the Pageant, doing his best not to steal the show but just about stealing it anyway.

View a slideshow of photos from Destroyer at the Luminary Center for the Arts

Last night at the Luminary Center for the Arts, a full but not overcrowded room watched the eight-member band cruise through an eleven-song set, starting in "Chinatown" and ending in the "Bay of Pigs." The focus of the night was, naturally, material from the new album Kaputt -- an uneven record of Bryan Ferry-esque dance music and sometimes muzak - and a handful of selections from Trouble in Dreams, Destroyer's Rubies and Your Blues. The band sounded engaged in the jamming, its leader his usual non-loquacious self, and the fuzzy-noise-meets-moogy-loops intros and outros bookended sprawling, horn-warmed grooves. I counted nine kids dancing. One of them was me.

Opening was the War on Drugs, a neo-psych band from Philly, led by Adam Granduciel, whose Dylan studies have paid off. I wasn't expecting to hear the sound of actual guitars - phase shifter and sundry effects were set to stun -- but was pleased to hear just that in the 12-string acoustic, complementing the drummers' clipped headphone beats. Starting just before 8 p.m., the band whipped through a melody-rich set, with highlights including "Buenos Aires Beach" and "Coming Through," as well as the excellent closer "Arms Like Boulders," extended with the hooks in the drums, like a haunted and cascading reworking of James' "Laid."

This was my first show at the Luminary, a big gallery space converted to a music room, and it was a pleasant one. Beer and wine prices are beyond reasonable, the staff is sweet, and the indie kids in attendance are mostly attentive to the show rather than their iPhones. If the stage could use another six inches in height, the sound was excellent, and the headliner's vocals, in particular, cut through the mix.

Taking the stage at just before 9:30 p.m., Bejar held an SM-57 instrument mic like a $50 Havana puro. Last night he looked like a semi-retired Cuban revolutionary, his beard creeping up his cheeks towards his drowsy eyes, his hair three spliffs shy of dreadlocks. He's wearing, of course, the same plaid button-down shirt he woke up in five days ago.