Live Review: Divine Fits with Cane and the Sticks at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 18th October 2012

By on Monday, 22nd October 2012 at 3:05 pm

I detest the word ‘supergroup’: there are too many different connotations, and not all of them can be true for any one particular band that includes band members of other popular bands. However, the word is bound follow Divine Fits around because it has an incredibly fab musical pedigree: Dan Boeckner (ex-Wolf Parade / Handsome Furs) Britt Daniel (Spoon) got together when their primary bands were on hiatus and grabbed Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks) to form an entirely new band.

I guess when you’re dipping your toe on the American touring circuit with your brand new band, even if you’ve got touring experience and fans from your previous outings under your belt, there’s still a level of trepidation, like, “will people bother to turn up for our show?” Early on in their 9:30 Club Thursday night, Boeckner looked absolutely gobsmacked by the turnout, commenting with a smile, “it’s only the third show of the tour.” Daniel echoed this sentiment later, sounding genuinely touched as he cracked a million watt smile: “we weren’t expecting so many people!” Divine Fits isn’t exactly like any of their members’ other bands, except maybe Boeckner’s Handsome Furs, as there’s a new wave-y element with synths, but overall, I find Divine Fits an incredibly intriguing coming together of three musicians, each at the top of his game, knocking out numbers from their debut album ‘A Thing Called Divine Fits’ with confidence and swagger. I’ll come back to that last word in a moment.

The support, Cane and the Sticks, turned out to be a local band. (That’s what I get for asking for tickets last minute and then not having time to do any research ahead of time.) I thought about the name of the band and wondered if it was a play on candy canes, something yuletide, etc. Cane is Peter Haynes, playing with Liz DeRoche, quite possibly the skinniest armed yet most wild female drummer I’ve ever seen and who also contributes occasionally on vocals, and Arthur Noll on bass.

There is a down and dirty, garage-y feel to their sound, with Haynes sneering in the rock ‘n’ roll style favoured by Roger Daltrey, or maybe a less vitriolic Johnny Rotten. Being the only support act, they were allowed a long set, which ran from ‘gentler’ numbers like ‘Baby’s Brain’ to more powerful rockers like ‘Jump Off the Boat’. It’s not apparent from their Bandcamp, so I guess they improvised live with long, strenuous, jammy outros that an gear head would have loved. I’d have to pay closer attention to the lyrics but all in all, a pretty good warm up act.

Before Divine Fits came on stage, an eerie, minor key classical piece was playing. It made me think of Dvorak or the work of some other suitably dramatic composer. They then started right into the last track of ‘A Thing Called Divine Fits’, called ‘Neopolitans’. It’s an ambient, relatively chill, if somewhat unexciting way to start the night off. (The backdrop was also less than awe-inspiring; when I came into the club, I saw this white screen covering the back wall, so I assumed when Divine Fits took to the stage, the screen would drop to reveal something exciting. No such luck. Synchronised coloured lights reflected off the screen, which was only used to capture the band’s shadows from the stage.) Dan Boeckner’s first words to the audience was something about how today (18 October) was People’s Day and we should be “celebrating personhood'”. Given all the recent debating and discussion regarding the rights of women (and fetuses, for that matter) related to the presidential election, I had to laugh a little. I looked this up on Google and didn’t find a ‘Person’s Day’ so if anyone can clue me in, I’d like to know. Otherwise, I think it was just a topically funny (for DC) comment.

From there though, the set slowly burned towards what I considered the highlights of the set. First, ‘Would That Be Nice’, which will probably be the band’s calling card as they continue through the years, came in with all the swagger and attitude of Mick Jagger minus the big mouth; it was the song that made me sit up and notice them, with a sexy as all hell bass line and earworm melody on a buzzy synth. This is the kind of song you can see men hearing in their heads when they’re going after a hot woman in the club; at the same time, it’s the song us women hope that attractive man in the corner giving us the eye is thinking of. ‘…Nice’ was followed by ‘Like Ice Cream’, which continues the . This is the way to woo a woman, fellas: a woman doesn’t want to hear what you plan to do with her (I’m looking at you Miguel and the Wanted). She wants to know she’s being appreciated for the pretty, lovely being she is; give her control, and she’ll be waiting for you. Like ice cream. (I think. I’m sorry, but this song has really gotten to me…it’s simple, yet what a song.)

Boeckner delivered the vocals for their first single ‘My Love is Real’ with desperation, down on his knees, writhing on the floor. ‘Flaggin’ a Ride’ earlier in the set is another swagger- and testosterone-filled tune, and it goes down incredibly well live. How could I tell? Mens’ heads were bopping in the crowd, and that rarely happens in DC, probably because men are too embarrassed to be seen moving any part of their body to the music. But hey, we’re talking about some titans of rock music playing here, so any of those reservations went out the window.

I wondered how they were going to fill even an hour, with only one debut album to their name. Four covers graced their set: a highly talked about live cover of Frank Ocean’s ‘Lost’, the recently in the news Rolling Stones’ ‘Sway’, Tom Petty’s ‘You Got Lucky’ and a version of the Birthday Party’s ‘Shivers’ that serves as one of the most emotional moments on their debut featured in the encore. So much attitude oozed out of their debut album, and it translated to so much more than I could have expected live. All I have left to say is, “Divine Fits, hurry up and put out another album!” And Britt Daniel, if you are reading this like you said you would: THANKS for a great night. We will be back to see you anytime you’re in Washington.

After the cut: Divine Fits’ set list.

Divine Fits Set List:
Baby Get Worse
Flaggin’ a Ride
The Salton Sea
What Gets You Alone
Civilian Stripes
Lost (Frank Ocean cover)
My Love is Real
Sway (Rolling Stones cover)
Like Ice Cream
Would That Not Be Nice
For Your Heart
You Got Lucky (Tom Petty cover)
Shivers (The Birthday Party cover)

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7 Responses

4:08 pm
22nd October 2012

Live Review: Divine Fits with Cane and the Sticks at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 18th October 2012 via @tgtf

4:11 pm
22nd October 2012

RT @Big_MouthPR: Live Review: Divine Fits with Cane and the Sticks at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 18th October 2012 via @tgtf

4:14 pm
22nd October 2012

RT @Big_MouthPR: Live Review: Divine Fits with Cane and the Sticks at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 18th October 2012 via @tgtf

5:03 pm
22nd October 2012

Live Review of @DivineFits with Cane and the Sticks at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 18th October 2012 via @tgtf

5:38 pm
22nd October 2012

“@tgtf: New post: Live Review: @divinefits with Cane and the Sticks at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 18/10/12:

12:06 am
23rd October 2012

RT @AntiRecordsEU: Live Review of @DivineFits with Cane and the Sticks at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 18th October 2012 via @tgtf

[…] Fits at 9:30 Club (Thursday 18th October 2012) – it always feels incredibly validating when you see a ‘new’ band who […]

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