They may have been a band for less than a year, they may have recorded their debut album a mere few months back, they may have made their live debut just five days prior (under a secret pseudonym and 1200 miles away, mind you), but when the Divine Fits took the stage at Columbus, OH’s Ace of Cups this past Monday, everyone knew exactly who they were.
As they unceremoniously claimed their respective positions on the cramped stage, the capacity crowd huddled in close, eager to hear a collection of songs they were completely unfamiliar with, but with hopes that they may be witnessing rock history in the making, or something of the sort. In reality, the Fits, a group comprised of acclaimed musicians including Spoon’s vocalist Britt Daniel, Wolf Parade’s front man Dan Boeckner, hometown hero and New Bomb Turks’ drummer Sam Brown, and multi-instrumentalist Alex Fischnel, delivered a set of throbbing indie-dance tunes that may not change the face of music, but make for a pretty decent hipster party soundtrack, and that’s not too bad.
Opening with a punching, pulsing synth line time-warped directly from the 1980’s, Daniel took to the mic first and led the group through a long droning “Neopolitans” that took far too long to get off the ground, not the most exciting choice for an opener but one allowed the still-new band ample time to find their footing. A second Boeckner-fronted track, “Baby Get Worse”, shed a bit more of their unease but it was the fast-paced “What Gets You Alone” that finally got everyone, band and crowd, ready to tackle the night.
The Divine Fits’ Would That Not Be Nice
With everyone’s dance shoes finally tied tight, Fischnel introduced maracas to the fold, the percussive catalyst to a stomping groove in the vein of Queens of the Stone Age called “Would That Not Be Nice”, and the band began to truly hit their still-new-to-themselves stride, with Daniel’s tortured howl pushing the set into a dark new territory where it would remain for much of the evening.
After “The Salton Sea”, Boeckner briefly addressed the enthusiastic crowd, giving the local boy a very modest ‘Sam Brown is alright’ before launching into “Civilian Stripes”. If there were any onlookers yet to be won over by the quartet, the first single from their upcoming album A Thing Called Divine Fits, “My Love Is True” with its’ haunting refrain “my love is true, my blood is real until, until it stops” was the one to do the trick, drawing easily the largest applause of the night.
The bland stage patter continued (“You guys are sweet”, “You guys still with us?”) but it was the finely-crafted songs that brought the crowd in and kept the band in high-spirits in even their most depressing moments. Fischnel eventually emerged from his wall of keys to join Boeckner on guitar and background vocals for a up-tempo “Like Ice Cream”, but the visit was short-lived as he retreated to add dreary synth to a cover of early Nick Cave project The Boys Next Door’s “Shivers” that began with Daniel howling “I’ve been contemplating suicide but it just doesn’t suit my style”, turning the doom up to 11. Boeckner’s erratic guitar solo lightened the mood, finishing under the effect of a pedal that caused the notes to recall an ascending roller coaster.
A raucous cover of The Wipers’ “Doom Town” followed, along with a final number from the group’s debut LP, due in late August, called “Flaggin’ A Ride”. The audience were once again thanked and returned the sentiments with a roar of approval, before being treated to one last number, a faithful rendition of the Tom Petty classic “You Got Lucky”, whose dark organ bursts were a sure influence much of the foursome’s original compositions.
Eschewing an encore and departing through the crowd towards the bar, Divine Fits had little left to prove to an audience that were clearly satisfied, gathering en mass at the merch table and gobbling up t-shirts and 7” records with ferocity. Time will tell what sort of musical impact these four seasoned rockers can make in the world, but for a solitary Monday night in Ohio, they were heroes indeed.
Written by By Alex Mosie
OurVinyl | Contributor
- Baby Get Worse
- What Gets You Alone
- Would That Not Be Nice
- The Salton Sea
- Civilian Stripes
- My Love Is Real
- Like Ice Cream
- For Your Heart
- Shivers (The Boys Next Door cover)
- Doom Town (Wipers cover)
- Flaggin’ A Ride
- You Got Lucky (Tom Petty cover)