In a general sense, their sound might best be described as textured. Perri, on guitar and vocals, was backed by drums and alternating arrangements of synthesizers, keyboards and bass. Percussion was subtly jazzy while chameleonic synths and keys constantly shifted their sound and the occasional bass line offered a rhythmic backbone. Perri’s guitar was expressive and reverb drenched, mostly restrained but sometimes erupting into solos wrapped in layers of distortion and delay. No two songs sounded exactly the same, and the whole mix was intriguingly genre-bending. Elements of folk-y charm, noisy dissonance and pure pop songwriting were all present, sometimes simultaneously. Perri’s warm vocals, reminiscent of a more sonically out-there M. Ward, were the common thread tying the individual songs and overall set together.
It was a freewheeling forty-five minutes of music, alternating between brief, tightly constructed tracks and others which evolved into extended vamps and jams. The instrumental passages of those longer songs never fell into the trap of aimless noodling, but rather kept things interesting with Perri’s engagingly off-kilter guitar soloing or, in one instance, he and a bandmate on dueling keyboards. Perri and band are a tight and versatile group, effectively conveying the sunny atmosphere of Impossible Spaces with enough variation and dexterity to make an already interesting set of songs all the more engaging as a live show.
Destroyer, in its latest eight-person incarnation, would spend much of its headlining set that night making similar efforts toward an atmosphere. Last year’s Kaputt took the constantly evolving project in an eighties-inspired yacht-rock direction that nobody expected, but leave it to a mastermind as infamously enigmatic as Dan Bejar to pull off soft rock with copious lite-jazz saxophones convincingly. The live lineup now features two guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, a keyboardist, a saxophonist, a trumpeter and Bejar singing his knotty and always exceedingly witty lyrics. The band sounded fantastic, and having toured Kaputt for over a year now, they have the art of the record’s lounge- vibes mastered. The setlist balanced evenly between old songs and new, with slight rearrangements and new brass and woodwind flourishes accenting many of the back catalog tracks. Destroyer’s reputation as a live band has always been shaky at best, but with this stellar-sounding lineup and even the normally reticent Bejar seemingly enjoying himself, things have apparently taken a significant turn for the better.
Photo Credit: Grace Donnelly