Live Review: Divine Fits at Deluxe in Indianapolis

Divine Fits

Divine Fits, the fantastic, new band comprised of Britt Daniel (Spoon), Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs) and Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks), invaded Indianapolis on Friday night for a stop in support of their debut record, A Thing Called Divine Fits, on their first-ever tour together. Divine Fits’ set at Deluxe in Old National Centre was an exhilarating performance that is likely to be my favorite of 2012.

A Thing Called Divine Fits, much like the vast majority of the discographies of Spoon, Wolf Parade, and Handsome Furs, is an addictive, aural treasure. Songs like the single “Would That Not Be Nice” and “Flaggin’ a Ride” take full advantage of Daniel’s distinct brand of nuanced ear candy unleashed at full throttle, while efforts like “What Gets You Alone” and “Civilian Stripes” capitalize on Boeckner’s versatile gifts for howling away on full-fledged rockers and telling more restrained, compelling stories against synthesized soundscapes and slower tempos.

One of the greatest assets of Divine Fits is the band’s ability to co-opt the distinct voices and styles of the prestigious indie rock veterans and seamlessly blend them into a coherent work, both sounding original and fitting perfectly alongside the best work of any member’s catalog. Even with the ubiquity of supergroups in the recent music scene, the near-perfect convergence of styles and voices on A Thing Called Divine Fits is a feat bested by no one and, perhaps, only equaled by the pairing of Jack White, Alison Mosshart, Jack Lawrence and Dean Fertita as The Dead Weather. Considering how uneven or forced a supergroup record can be (i.e. Superheavy, Chickenfoot, Velvet Revolver, Tinted Windows, Smoke & Jackal), A Thing Called Divine Fits transcends every doubt by joining the ranks of The Dead Weather’s Horehound and Sea of Cowards, Them Crooked Vultures‘ S/T, Diamond Rugs’ S/T, and Middle Brother’s S/T as one of the rare offerings that can stand alone as a superior work irrespective of each member’s history.

Divine Fits at Deluxe in Indianapolis

Divine Fits at Deluxe in Indianapolis

Divine Fits visited Indianapolis as a foursome with keyboardist Alex Fischel (formerly of L.A. band Papa and described as “this generation’s Ansel Adams” by Daniel) rounding out the group. Had you not known the backstory of Divine Fits, their performance in Indianapolis could easily prompt disbelief that they only began recording together earlier this year and played their first public gig less than three months prior to Friday night. Daniel, Boeckner, Brown, and Fleschel were a finely oiled rock and roll engine in Indianapolis, and the abundant joy the guys share while playing together was stitched across their smiling faces. Besides playing the entirety of A Thing Called Divine Fits, the guys dug into exceptional covers of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “You Got Lucky,” “Boom Town” from Portland punk heroes the Wipers’ 1983 album, Over the Edge, as well as a Boeckner-voiced rendition of The Rolling Stones classic “Sway.”

Divine Fits make no qualms about this band being the real thing. Back in August, Daniel told Rolling Stone, “I’m in two bands. But Dan’s only in one band now.” Besides facing the crowd in tandem with the two mics offset stage-right and stage-left, Daniel and Boeckner were all over the stage for the duration of the set. They took turns kneeling to the amp at the rear to build distortion, and they often aligned with Fischel to form a circle when facing Brown as he drove the beat. One of the biggest takeaways I had from the thrilling set Divine Fits delivered to the rapturous, but, sadly, sparse* Indianapolis faithful was the technical proficiency of Sam Brown behind the kit. *[Sleigh Bells played Indianapolis at The Vogue on Friday, potentially creating a difficult choice for indie rock fans (Mine was a no-brainer.). Boeckner and Daniel referenced the overlapping shows several times, and they expressed deep gratitude for those in attendance with each mention. ]  Looking refreshingly pedestrian at an indie rock show with the likes of Tron (Boeckner and Daniel excitedly made repeated mentions of the costumed audience member with illuminated in gold bulbs) in attendance, Brown, short-haired and sporting unmemorable jeans and a long-sleeved button-down shirt, anchored the pulsating, synth-driven compositions and hard-charging rockers with full command of polyrhythmic textures and sure-handed proficiency. In a supergroup with two of the most revered frontmen in the current indie music scene, Brown proved to be both an equal third of Divine Fits and one of the most underrated drummers around.

Divine Fits 2

Britt Daniel sings "Like Ice Cream" during Divine Fits' set in Indianapolis

Divine Fits alone would’ve been a wonderful return on investment for the price of a $17 ticket, but openers Cold Cave helped make the rewards even sweeter. Playing a loud, dance-ready, darkwave mix of noise rock and synth-pop, the music of Cold Cave would squeeze seamlessly between Joy Division, Depeche Mode, and Interpol on a trusty iPod shuffle. Cold Cave, the evening’s first supergroup to grace Deluxe’s stage [founded by Wesley Eisold, formerly of the hardcore group Give Up the Ghost, the band’s current lineup includes Cody Votolato (Blood Brothers, Jaguar Love), Hunter Burgan (AFI), Dave Stone (Melvins, LCD Soundsytem) and London Main (Samhain, Tiger Army)], was a mighty fine opening act. They kicked the night off noisily, held the crowd’s attention, and presumably won over plenty of new fans. The only aspect of Cold Cave’s performance that could be seen as a flaw was the disproportion of noise to vocals in the mix. However, for a band taking pride on noise rock and heavy, synth-pop textures, the decision to be loud (and arguably overpowering in the mix) may not have been so much of a misstep at all.

It’s safe to say no one walked away from Friday night’s show at Deluxe left wanting. Divine Fits promises to be around for a while, and we can only hope they continue delivering the goods on records as strong as A Thing Called Divine Fits and with performances as outstanding as the one they gave in Indianapolis.

Divine Fits’ debut album, A Thing Called Divine Fits, is out now via Merge Records. Cold Cave’s most recent release, Cherish the Light Years (2011), is available via Matador Records.

Stream: A Thing Called Divine Fits

Download: Divine Fits – “Would That Not Be Nice” 

Stream: Cold Cave – “Burning Sage”

We're looking for writers and editors to join the team. Interested? Apply today!