When news first leaked months ago that Brit Daniels of Spoon and Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs were pairing up for a new project called Divine Fits along with drummer Sam Brown of the New Bomb Turks; the buzz quickly caught on. With legions of loyal fans from their former projects and intriguing snippets of songs surfacing; it took very little time before they were dubbed a ‘super-group’ by several media outlets. After all; there was plenty to be excited for – Spoon had been pretty quiet since the release of Transference two years ago and both of Boeckner’s former groups had dissolved in the past year. A fresh start seemed in store for the members involved.
With the release of their debut album, A Thing Called Divine Fits, we finally get to see the individual members taking their next steps. While their combined effort may not be a complete departure from previous studio work; we do find a sum of all parts here, and the styles and voices meld together almost effortlessly. Writing and singing duties shift continuously and it can be difficult to discern who is responsible for what throughout the album; but this actually works in its favor. In fact, the band members relish sharing responsibilities as they have stated in previous interviews. Oftentimes in a ‘super-group,’ one ego is placed in front of another and the result is more akin to a vanity project. This partnership, however, seems natural and unforced and nowhere can this be better seen than when Divine Fits take to the stage.
Divine Fits’ What Gets You Alone
OurVinyl had the opportunity to catch them in their very first New York City show, performing to a sold out crowd at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg. Divine Fits have only played a handful of shows together; most of them in front of their hometown crowds. Despite having only a limited number of shows and studio time playing together; the amount of collective experience under the individual members belts helps make them a live act not to miss. Furthermore, it seems that the novelty of a new band is very refreshing and that there is a genuine sense of enjoyment coming from playing these shows. That, coupled with the fact that they are playing to much more intimate spaces than they were used to with their former outfits only helps the overall experience.
Although the album has only been out for a short amount of time; almost everybody in the audience seemed familiar with A Thing Called Divine Fits. With little introduction; Boeckner, Daniels, and Brown came out along with keyboardist Alex Fishcel and went right into the punchy “Flaggin A Ride.” Fans of Spoon will be delighted to hear this track, which contains a similar rhythmic structure as well as some trademark howls from Daniels. “Baby Get Worse” was the next track played and Divine Fits seemed flattered to see the crowd mouth off parts of the refrain, such as “we hit the city, but the city it don’t mind.” With the audience fully behind them, Fischel began chipping away at the keys for the opening licks of “The Salton Sea,” providing Daniels with some time to tune up as he switched from bass to guitar. Although the album contains a bare and stripped back aesthetic, there is still a ton of textures and effects layered over these core instruments. Boeckner or Daniels on their knees playing with their pedals and other gadgets was a common site throughout the night and helped the viewer appreciate how much was put into this CD.
The frenetic pace of “The Salton Sea” was picked up even more with “What Gets you Alone. ” At this point in their performance, you could clearly see how much each member on stage complemented one another. As tracks such as this reached their peaks, we found both Daniels and Boeckner on vocals, further accentuating each of their unique voices. As the drummer of the band, Brown does a great job in providing these songs with a pulse. Nowhere was this more evident than in the band’s first single, “My Love Is Real.” While the song is driven by a simple drumbeat; shakers and other percussive elements continue to build and are simultaneously layered with a synthesized bass line. After building up for two and a half minutes the track abruptly stops; cleverly playing off of the refrain “until it stops.” A seemingly simple move like that leaves you pining for more making this a very wise choice for their first single as well as lead-off track on their debut.
Divine Fits’ Baby Get Worse
By the end of the evening, all of A Thing Called Divine Fits had been played, as well as a few covers from Tom Petty (“You Got Lucky”) and the Wipers (“Doom Town”). You couldn’t really ask for much more from these guys; namely because they played all that they have. It’s always a pleasant treat to see that the band is having just as good a time (if not better) than the audience. This was certainly one of those live shows that helps you appreciate the studio work of an artist to a much greater extent. While providing you with a lot to enjoy in the present as well as future with repeated listens, it also encourages you to take a closer look to the Handsome Furs, Wolf Parade, and Spoon; and to that we are thankful.
From here, Divine Fits will take a brief respite from touring before hitting the road again in October for a more extensive tour including opening spots for the Black Keys in Las Vegas for a New Years run. If you can, get yourself to a show of theirs.
Photos from the Brooklyn show as well as full tour dates can be found below.
Words and photos from Jesse Zryb
OurVinyl | Senior Writer
Oct 6 – Nashville, TN – SoundLand Festival
Oct 14 – San Francisco, CA – Treasure Island Music Festival
Oct 16 — Pawtucket, RI — Met Cafe
Oct 17 — Boston, MA — Royale Nightclub
Oct 18 — Washington DC — 9:30 Club
Oct 19 — Northampton, MA — Pearl Street (Downstairs)
Oct 21 — New York, NY — Webster Hall
Oct 22 — Philadelphia, PA — Union Transfer
Oct 24 — Columbus, OH — Newport Music Hall
Oct 25 — Chicago, IL — Logan Square Auditorium
Oct 26 — Indianapolis, IN — Deluxe
Oct 27 – Asheville, NC – Moogfest
Oct 28 — Raleigh, NC — Lincoln Theater
Oct 29 — Atlanta, GA — Terminal West
Oct 31 — Austin, TX — Stubbs
Nov 2 — Tucson, AZ — The Rock
Nov 3 — Pioneertown, CA — Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace
Nov 4 — Los Angeles, CA — Fonda Theater
Dec 30 — Las Vegas, NV — Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (opening for the Black Keys)
Dec 31 — Las Vegas, NV — Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (opening for the Black Keys)