As a mix of ice and snow spattered Denver on Wednesday night, a crowd of about 100 cozied up to the stage at Larimer Lounge hoping to find some sort of warmth from Destroyer’s Dan Bejar. In response: Bejar began his pensive, quiet evening with “My Favorite Year.” As he plucked the broody and poetically-charged track, girlfriends tried to dance with boyfriends, but the boyfriends didn’t dance. The crowd seemed heartbroken, despondent and unmoving. The words: “It’s weird in here,” floated through the crowd.
But, it wasn’t until Dan Bejar’s fourth track, “Bye, Bye,” that the singer-songwriter truly acknowledged the crowd. Dropping his eyes from the pulsing blue and red stage lights, he mentioned: “I’ve been fucking this one up a lot lately, but it’s not my fault, I only understand half of it.” The song felt oddly hopeful, mixed with choppy Spanish twang and a strong falsetto, which lifted Bejar to his tip-toes, a gesture of comfort. This lead to an array of older Destroyer tracks, including “Downtown,” “Songs for America” and “The Music Lovers,” settling the crowd into a tense melancholy.
Lyrically, Dan Bejar was strong as always, showcasing the talent in his language and vocal range, but booze seemed necessary for him. It awoke him, it allowed him to interact and coyly shake off whatever uneasiness he had. After each song Bejar bowed, wiped his hair back and began to smile. The crowd reacted: “Bay of Pigs,” someone yelled.
Bejar, obviously lose in the shoulders, made eye contact. “I think it’s possible that in 100 years people might yell out ‘Bay of Pigs’ instead of free bird (laughter)….that was really arrogant if me….(more chords) this is kind of like the Bay of Pigs.” The song got the crowd to move, it was no longer a show of head-bobs and knee-bends. A beer cup dropped, and fans came rushing inside, leaving their cigarettes at the door. One man even wiped away tears in the corner. This was what everyone seemed to have come for.
Near the end of his set, it came time for “Kaputt.” Softly brushing his fingers over some guitar chords Bejar spoke: “I realize a lot of this doesn’t make sense, but I mean it does make some sense … you’ve been very kind tonight … mostly kind.”
Lucas Dean Fiser is a freelance writer for The Denver Post and a new contributor to Reverb.