We Went to a Show - Destroyer at the Fairmount Theatre, Montreal

Review by Colin Crawford               Photos by Maya Sherrin

Singer-songwriter Erin Burgy — a.k.a. Mega Bog — took the stage of the Fairmount in Montreal opening with a soft acoustic folk meditation, only to be joined by her band for a loud rock-jazz ballad immediately after. Heavily leaning into an early ‘70s aesthetic, Mega Bog took the audience all over the map, from the jazzy psych-rock like that of Kevin Ayers to the avant-garde bossa nova of Os Mutantes. With high tempo beats and dreamy jangly guitar tones (reminiscent of Victoria’s beloved own Bridal Party), a surf-pop sensibility of the west coast remains despite the Seattle group’s recent relocation to New York. While their latest record Happy Together flirts more and more with experimental jazz, Mega Bog’s live-show boasts a wide range of influences accompanied by an equally wide spectrum of feeling.

After skulking in the corner for Mega Bog’s set, the infamous Dan Bejar joined his seven piece ensemble to the rapid-fire shaker and latin clav tracking of Sky’s Grey, descending into the deep slow-jam groove at the halfway mark. Mimicking the tracklist of their latest record ken for the first three songs, Destroyer immediately hooked the crowd with huge, energetic ballads. Embodying a slovenly charm, Bejar leaned heavily on his hip-height mic stand with eyes closed, delivering his understated lyrical prose-poetry and occasionally brandishing a tamborine or making the odd theatrical hand gesture to emphasize a line. When Bejar wasn’t singing, he was crouched down low, nearly out of sight, sipping from a mixed drink followed by a swig of beer as his big band easily filled out the room.

Driving post-punk bass lines and new-wavy drum tracks were uniquely complemented by the layered dialogue between heavily-affected trumpet, tenor sax, piano and guitar features, foregrounding this group’s expert arrangements. Closing with the 11 minute opus Bay of Pigs (detail) die-hard fans bounced and sang along with enthusiasm, eventually enticing Bejar and company back for an encore of the lengthy shape-shifting ballad: Rubies. While Destroyer paints dark, surreal portraits of the world, these songs maintain more than a glimpse of hope, with an underlying and sincere faith in equal parts poetry and rock and roll.

Thanks to Blue Skies Turn Black and the Fairmount Theatre for having us!

-Colin Crawford