Destroyer Stumbles and/or Bows at Bowery Ballroom


Bejar a few months back. Jesus is magic. CREDIT

Bowery Ballroom
Wednesday April 23

Live, Destroyer songs have about a 5:1 confusion-to-rock ratio, glammed up and pompous and brash and irrepressibly wordy, staggering about in an erudite daze, lurching from one wobbly riff to another. Your ringmaster, Dan Bejar, is no help when it comes to orienting yourself. Everything about him screams aloof, from his jaunty shock of hair to his campy, theatrical rasp to his own distinct wobbliness: During applause between songs it’s unclear if he’s bowing or stumbling. This is the sort of show where a chorus of “I didn’t know what time it was at all” is perfectly acceptable, because you don’t.

Bejar’s four-piece backing band is surprisingly muscular but a bit wayward—most songs tonight (the lion’s share derived from the new Trouble in Dreams, and if Fluxblog’s account is accurate, just a slightly reordered rehash of the previous night’s set at the Music Hall of Williamsburg) seem on the verge of falling apart. When they can agree on a couple chords, though, like the buoyant “Self Portrait With Thing (Tonight Is Not Your Night),” the effect can remind you of T. Rex or the Killers. Your preference.

(Someone in the crowd requested “Free Bird.” I thought we had evolved.)

Bejar is riveting even as he studiously deflects your attention, howling through an endless stream of zen riddles, Babel Fish atrocities, and bizarre pieces of advice (“Beware the company you reside in”; “You shouldn’t hurt the ones you love, unless you realllly wannnt toooo.” He seems to take a very dour delight in your disorientation. “I was going to tell a story about that song, and how it was written,” he declares during the encore, having just plowed haughtily through “Certain Things You Ought to Know.” Then he starts another song.