Last night, new indie super group Divine Fits played their ninth-ever show in the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. As guitarist and Wolf Parade frontman Dan Boeckner reinforced early on, (to paraphrase) this was indeed one of the weirdest/coolest venues I’ve (or anyone I spoke to) ever seen a show. The near perfectly-square room definitely felt like it could be given a full cultish creep factor with the right lighting, garb and cause (Maybe for a metal show?! Seance?), but for last night’s outing, some simple floor-lined backlights made for a pleasing visual aesthetic that worked well to accentuate Divine Fits’ powerful blend of New Wave-leaning rock and well-crafted pop songs.
After a fun, loop-heavy set by Calvin Love and a short intermission, the place went pitch black momentarily so the headliners could make their way through the crowd to the stage (no backstage in this Lodge). Anticipation was palpable in the crowd, a bunch that was almost certainly made up entirely of folks seeing the foursome playing together for the first time.
Not wasting anytime, Spoon frontman Britt Daniel kicked the band into the jittery “Flaggin’ A Ride,” a tune with a fluttering intro that led to the first showcase of Daniel’s recognizable, scowling wails atop a stomp-clap beat. The Dan Boeckner-led tunes contrast well with Daniels and the oscillation between the two throughout the set adds an interesting and crucial dynamic to Divine Fits’ overall sound. “Baby Got Worse” came next and captured the essence of Divine Fits’ sound well: New Wave-tilted but far from being overly soft and bubbly, harmony-focused at times, heavy/guitar-and-synth driven and far-from-afraid to stretch things out a bit, culminating with a blistering all-four-members-going-full-bore blowout.
Buzz cycles and hype surrounding the album (released the night of this show) aside, this band’s sound is indeed strong enough to stand on its own and the live show is worth your hard earned-dollar. Other highlights included the workout during “For Your Heart” and my personal favorite “The Salton Sea,” tunes that showcased an already well-developed musicianship that exhibits a well-rehearsed, yet still developing sound, with Britt Daniel appearing to be the focused, ever-peering and tweaking perfectionist of the group.
Although Boeckner and Daniel will get the lion’s share of attention on this tour, drummer Sam Brown and multi-instrumentalist Alex Fischel (who wore a special jacket for the occasion, worn previously only for his Bar Mitzvah and prom night, according to Boeckner) deserve due credit as more than side players to the two frontmen. Fischel and Daniel looked to play off each other during some of the more free-form parts of the set, nodding in approval at each other during jams as each added layers to the palette. Dan Boeckner’s guitar talents came to the forefront throughout the set, notably on the show-closing “Shivers,” a tune that came after a light-hearted, interesting cover of Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky.”
The best artists challenge themselves from time-to-time, never content with remaining static. Generally, such side projects have a way of re-invigorating the artists’ main project, by collecting new ideas, pushing themselves creatively and going out of their comfort zone. If Divine Fits is merely a short term project, its more than a serviceable side gig for those involved, the material speaks for itself, the show these guys have put together is exciting, fresh and its plain-as-day to see that these guys are thoroughly enjoying a new form of musical communication as Divine Fits. Hoping to see more recordings and shows from these guys beyond 2012 but if it’s merely short-lived, I definitely recommend checking it out this fall.
SETLIST: Divine Fits @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery’s Masonic Lodge, 8/28/12 -- Hollywood, CA
Flaggin’ A Ride (Britt), Baby Get Worse (Dan), What Gets You Alone (Dan), Would That Not Be Nice (Britt), Civilian Stripes (Dan), My Love Is Real (Dan), The Salton Sea (Britt), Like Ice Cream (Britt), Neopolitans (Britt), For Your Heart (Dan), Doom Town (Britt -- The Wipers cover), You Got Lucky (Dan -- Tom Petty Cover), Shivers (Britt -- Boys Next Door / Nick Cave cover)
My Love Is Real
Baby Got Worse