We Went There: Destroyer at the Turf Club
Dan Bejar is a seminal artist of the last 20 years, in my book, but there is a universe where his music just doesn’t land in the live setting. Luckily has has put together a pretty crack band to bring his Destroyer project to life on stage, and the group made a triumphant stop at the Turf Club in St. Paul on Leap Day of 2020.
Touring behind his stunning Have We Met LP, Bejar played a good portion of the album while sprinkling in some classic songs from his back catalog. Starting with album opener “Crimson Tide,” he hit all the high points from the album, including “Kind Dark,” “Cue Synthesizer,” “The Raven” and “It just doesn’t Happen Here.” He also dug up some tracks from his classic Kaputt and Destroyer Rubies albums over the 75 minute set, before starting a three-song encore with the Poison Season song “Hell,” which saw opener Eleanor Friedberger join him on vocals.
He had a five piece backing back that really brought the songs to live, while he continued to lean into the “college professor after a bender” vibes when he is onstage, spending his time singing while casually leaning on a mic stand. There is a weary, detached cool in Bejar that is hard not to like, especially when he was up on stage with a great sounding band and hammering through a setlist of songs that all kept raising the bar.
As mentioned above, Eleanor Friedberger of Fiery Furnaces fame opened the night with a great set of smart, minimalist pop music that she does so well. Her music is as lovelorn and bruised as Bejar’s, but there is an even more snarky, playful feeling in her songs. She stood behind a synth and drum machine while wielding a guitar, creating something of a one-person band vibe that saw many of the songs blend into one another. There were some moments where it seemed her music was going above the heads of the sold-out crowd (if for no other reasons than they weren’t paying attention and were taking advantage of a Saturday night to drink and talk before the headliner), but her music is always great and her set really set the table for the outstanding headlining set that was to come.
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