Divine Fits: 4 September 2012 – Los Angeles

Melissa Bobbitt

Boeckner and Daniel are musketeers of the music world: All for one, and one for all.

Divine Fits
City: Los Angeles, CA
Venue: The Echo
Date: 2012-09-04

"Two players. Two sides. One is light; one is dark."

It's a mysterious phrase uttered by John Locke on Lost as he describes the game of backgammon. But it could also pertain to Divine Fits, a meeting of the minds between Britt Daniel of Spoon and Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade/Handsome Furs.

Continuing a calculated takeover of Los Angeles that brought them to numerous local venues within the past month, the indie gods stood in contrast beside each other on the Echo stage. Boeckner was clad in all black, from his shaggy hair to combative boots. Daniel was a vision in white, looking more like a painter arriving to transform a house, rather than to put on a rock show.

Betraying clichés of darkness and light, Boeckner seemed the more animated, happy character, thrusting his guitar side to side and smiling through songs about fizzled relationships. Daniel did grin, but it was a devilish smirk that morphed into a grimace when the stage lighting dissatisfied him. He nudged a floor lamp out of the way so the shadows would creep over him. He took solace in snuggling up to his bass amp and keeping a low profile in the swirling fog effects.

The rainbow-prism lights really illuminated the centrifugal force of Divine Fits. Surely, Spoon and Wolf Parade have muscle and bite in their own respects, but the melding of the front men's talents is unstoppable. Accompanied by drummer Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks, Boeckner and Daniel are musketeers of the music world: All for one, and one for all. The broken-heart warriors even shared a home for a while as Boeckner transitioned into a lone wolf (pardon the pun) after his split from wife and former Furs band mate Alexei Perry.

It was from this tumult that Divine Fits was born. The fellows had been acquainted since 2009 through various gigs, and their common admiration for beat-driven rock led to the creation of this walloping supergroup. The debut record, A Thing Called Divine Fits (Merge), is a rubbery, woozy mash-up of Daniel's pulsing snippiness and Boeckner's reverb-drenched longing. That undeniable cool just oozes onstage. (It looked as though synth guardian Alex Fischel did enough sweating for the three other guys combined.) The men traded instruments effortlessly and tag-teamed one another on vocals.

Not so streamlined was the opening act, a boorish Elvis/Nick Cave amalgam named Daughn Gibson. His songs were spooky, Southern gothic things about white vans and praying in hospitals. Unsettling samples of proselytizing grannies screened over his guttural croon, as a quiet Mary Lattimore sat at her keys, plunking out pre-recorded guitars over ghostly pianos.

When the audience failed to warm to his banter about "Unsolved Mysteries", "Walker, Texas Ranger" and "Cops", he accused the lot of being flaccid.

"This next track is about making love – which is apparently something none of you like to do," he said with a Presley snarl. What love had to do with Gibson's morbid set isn't clear. What was clear was that the crowd wasn't buying whatever moonshine he was selling.

The fans were drunk on Divine Fits' energy, though. One tall, vociferous gent near the front taunted the other concertgoers when they weren't dancing enough. Another faction of people let their Cyber-shots and iPhones record the whole shebang as they stood hypnotized by their heroes. The band's fervor was highest during a transcendent cover of Rowland Howard's "Shivers". What had generally been a poppy affair soon changed into an epic maelstrom too big for the miniscule Echo.

Daniel apologized for the somewhat brief performance, but it was a more-than-ample gift to the early adapters of his new group. It was a contained, brilliant explosion detonated by two of the most visionary scientists of the indie persuasion.

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

Despite the uninspired packaging in this complete series set, Friday Night Lights remains an outstanding TV show; one of the best in the current golden age of television.

There are few series that have earned such universal acclaim as Friday Night Lights (2006-2011). This show unreservedly deserves the praise -- and the well-earned Emmy. Ostensibly about a high school football team in Dillon, Texas—headed by a brand new coach—the series is more about community than sports. Though there's certainly plenty of football-related storylines, the heart of the show is the Taylor family, their personal relationships, and the relationships of those around them.

Keep reading... Show less

Mixing some bland "alternate" and "film" versions of Whitney Houston's six songs included on The Bodyguard with exemplary live cuts, this latest posthumous collection for the singer focuses on pleasing hardcore fans and virtually no one else.

No matter how much it gets talked about, dissected, dismissed, or lionized, it's still damn near impossible to oversell the impact of Whitney Houston's rendition of "I Will Always Love You".

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.