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Over The Weekend: Destroyer, The War on Drugs at The Loft

Destroyer, The War on Drugs
The Loft
March 26, 2011

Better than: listening to karaoke Wham!, I guess.

The bottom line: I wish I had thought to bring a Kindle to read at The Loft on Saturday night -- not unlike the guy helping me hold up the column in the middle of the floor at the venue, actually.

Because, fact is, Dan Bejar's performance as Destroyer at The Loft just wasn't especially engaging.

Sure, all the required musical skills were encompassed in the eight (eight!) musicians on stage at The Loft.

But three songs in, I'm tapping my watch to see if it's still working. The problems are numerous -- too much reverb-soaked horn section dominating the sound, too little charisma on the part of frontman Bejar, extended breaks between songs, and songs that are soothing in my living room, but boring on a Saturday night at a live music venue.

In a set that leaned very heavily on the band's just-released Kaput, the audience of 200 or so -- a pretty respectable size for a crowd -- seemed respectful, but every bit as bored as I was.

Perhaps part of the problem was the energy created by the early performance of The War on Drugs. Bejar couldn't match it.

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The Philly band is led by guitarist Adam Granduciel, a long time friend and collaborator of Kurt Vile. The two have long helped out in each other's bands and helped define each other's sound.  Similar to Vile in guitar stylings, The War on Drugs' 45-minute set featured songs that were driven by crisp percussion, Granduciel's agile guitar work and his Dylanesque story-telling lyrics. 

Destroyer could learn a thing or two from its opening act, turns out.

Critics Notebook
Personal Bias:
It's no secret that I'm a big Kurt Vile fan, and I've seen Granduciel play twice with Vile as a member of the Violators, where the supporting role, by definition, keeps him in the background. It was impressive to see Granduciel as a commanding frontman, driving the performance and engaging with the crowd while retuning his guitar. (Take note, Bejar).

By The Way: The parking lot was really full due the DEVO concert taking place downstairs at the Palladium. But after leaving The Loft, I was surprised to find the lot empty and the crew nearly finished loading DEVO's gear back into the semi, and only a few fans hanging around the back door in plastic DEVO hats. Early night?

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