Divine Fits @ Royale 10.17.12

by Ben Stas (English/Journalism), published October 24th 2012

Divine Fits certainly qualify as a bona fide supergroup, but they would probably object to the term. The band is co-fronted by Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner, members of indie rock giants Spoon and Wolf Parade, respectively. With Spoon between albums and Wolf Parade on a permanent hiatus, the duo teamed up with drummer Sam Brown (of New Bomb Turks) and keyboardist Alex Fischel for a new project that’s slightly outside both of their comfort zones.

During Wednesday’s show at the Royale, Daniel and Boeckner delivered this new batch of songs with a cool and collected restraint, which only boiled over into a surge of emotion at precisely the right moments. Their only album, A Thing Called Divine Fits, splits the vocal duties roughly down the middle, and so went the live show. Their vocal styles, both melodious with a slightly jagged streak, are perfectly matched to one another. This is just one of the ways in which Daniel and Boeckner seem like perfectly suited collaborators. There are strains of each member’s main project in Divine Fits’ nervy, New Wave-y guitar pop, but the songs ultimately sound like the fresh product of a well-matched partnership.

Daniel stuck to bass for most of the set, and Boeckner to guitar. Fischel operated a bank of synths on stage right which were the driving force of some songs and provided background texture for others. Brown’s percussion was tastefully minimal, holding down the rhythm section and maintaining the crisp, wiry sound that pervades the material on record. Tracks like “Flaggin a Ride” and “My Love Is Real” blended prominent synths with post-punk guitar in tense but danceable pop songs. “Like Ice Cream” or the encore-closing “Shivers” took a more traditional rock approach with similarly effective results.

“Shivers” was originally released by The Boys Next Door, an Australian post-punk group which later changed its name to The Birthday Party and introduced a young, terrifying, pre-Bad SeedsNickCaveto the world. It’s the only cover song to make it onto A Thing Called Divine Fits, but was one of four played at the show. With only a 42-minute record to tour, the band filled in the blanks with an eclectic collection of other people’s tunes. The artfully reinterpreted covers ran the gamut from Tom Petty to the Wipers and Frank Ocean, proving that Divine Fits could reimagine just about anything and work it seamlessly into a set of their own songs.

Divine Fits are a prime example of the great things that can happen when veteran musicians come together and execute a supergroup project just right. This is no retread or vanity experiment, but rather a full-fledged band with a killer set of songs. Their live show reinforces all of this, and spotlights their keen ear for covers. Here’s to hoping this isn’t the last we hear from them.

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