Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Sublimation Hour (or Hours)

sub·li·ma·tion \ˌsə-blə-ˈmā-shən\ noun 1 a: sublime 1 archaic : to improve or refine as if by subliming 2: to divert the expression of (an instinctual desire or impulse) from its unacceptable form to one that is considered more socially or culturally acceptableOnce again our trip to Ashville began with a simply smashing day that dissolved into storms right as we drove out of Charlotte. This time, however, we were not escorted out by rainbows but what looked early tornado formations. Later someone told me there were tornadoes spotted in the area we drove through.

Haven't we seen this before? Every time we drive to Ashville, H insists I take pictures of the mountains. They are lovely but I think I may have over a hundred pictures of the Smokies. But I had to share this picture as it does reveal the reason behind the name "The Great Smoky Mountains."

As we drove up this time, we did listen to music. I hadn't really listened to the new Destroyer album, Trouble in Dreams and since we were going to see him, it did seem I ought to get to know the album a bit. I have to say that there's very little from Destroyer that I just don't love, and this album is no exception. Bejar, whether he likes it or not (indication seems to point to "does not") creates pop music for the intellengstia (not really a term I love but there you have it). His quirky lyrics set to almost discordant harmonies croaked out in a voice that one has to learn to love surprise, delight, and mystify. But they are lyrics that are appeal to those who love academic puzzles, to those who love to analyze, tear part, critique. They are not lyrics that one necessarily wishes to whisper to their lover, or that make an emotional appeal. Rather they are lyrics that hit your head first, and maybe if you're fucked up just enough, your heart. My favorites from this album are Blue Flower/Blue Flame and Foam Hands. When I listen to Destroyer I find myself contemplating things like time. There's something about his music that makes me wonder about how time moves us in these bizarre directions. Like shouldn't I have been doing shows way back when I was young instead of now? What does it say that at 36 I'm finally opening up to this whole new musical world? What most people realize at 18, I'm find out now. Maybe it's his lyrics or maybe it's just that he's the first really indie band I was really into....but his music makes me feel that time is not linear in the least.
And we'd definitely seen this place before....The show was at the Grey Eagle Tavern which I have to talk up a bit. This is a great venue, and if you read my blog from NC please give them some business. These are the kinds of places that help keep the indie music scene alive and vibrant. The place has relatively cheap beer, a nice outside patio area for smoking, a roomy but intimate stage area, and the best bar kitchen I've ever seen (Cajun!). The staff is cool but unpretentious as is the crowd for the most part. And they're bringing in great shows. Totally worth the 2.5 hour drive from Charlotte.
This time we knew some people there! Our friend Amber (the coolest HE manager EVEA) and her friend Dylan meet us at the show. We had a few beers, hung out on the patio, listening to Dylan tell stories (guy is a great story teller). Then Amber and I went in, prepared to bully our way to the front. I was a tad disappointed that there was a big clearing for us right up at the front. I've yet to do a show in NC where the crowd fights to get close to the stage. People are so polite which is, hey, good for me. We had a good time waiting for Destroyer to come on...taking silly pictures, fooling around, etc.

And then, in a rush so fast and shy I wouldn't have noticed except that Amber grabbed my arm and said "There he is!" And indeed, there he was:
He said nothing...just slung on his guitar, and launched into "Rubies." It was as H noted in his entry, an electrified, heavy hitting version of the song. It was...sublime. If there is one thing that Destroyer does it refines but they do not turn things into acceptable sounds. They shatter your expectations and give you something you want but didn't know you wanted. Bejar's voice is the same live as recorded but there is something very raw about him live. He's so unassuming. He hardly looks at his audience, his head down, his hair covering his face. He turns away often...Bejar's voice is like Dylan's and Neil Young's in that you don't like it at grows on you, weaves it's way into your head until it's the most beautiful thing you have ever heard.

And the music...amazing. The drummer was simply incredible. Everything worked together, it was fast, moving you. It was impossible to stand still. One had to move to it...let it envelop your body, propel you outside of your mind into your body. You could feel it in your blood, in your muscles as you danced. You didn't stop to think about his just let them inside you. The kind of intellectual thought that I always invested in when listening to the albums disappeared in the dark little club.
Bejar is intense. You could feel it as he sang. He's also very shy on stage. He said very little to the audience. But at some point, he began to smile. Just these tentative smiles that opened up a kind of joy in everyone. The crowd loved him. People all around us were singing his songs...they knew all the words. Half of us had these dopey in love smiles on our face as he performed. And it seemed that he responded to this love. His keyboard player at one point said "Way better than New York" which rose a great response in the crowd. North Carolinians are not often compared in a favorable way to New Yorkers. And when he came out to give his encore, Bejar commented: "Maybe it's the acoustics in this place but it sounds like there is a 100, 000 people out there."

And I think it felt that way because the crowd just loved him. He didn't need to impress us. He just had to sing for us, and that was gift enough.


Yellowbird said...

I like your blog! I just wanted to point you to an article I read recently that you might like:

Hope you enjoy, if you haven't read it already!

Lolabola* said...

I just clicked through that to the youtube bit where someone describes him as fecund.

Lolabola* said...

oh man! and then I found this. Mr. Weapon is local and Final Fantasy I just discovered at my local coffee shop.

Ginger As in Green Tea... said...

Thanks for the links! I had read that interview but didn't really explore the links in it.

theDrunkMonk said...

I had a dopey smile reading your review. I didn't hear what he said when he returned. That's a great quote.