Divine Fits, The Delta Riggs @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne (4/2/2013)
Entering the Corner Hotel on Monday Night, were up and rollicking, jamming out their soul infused, jangly rock with dishevelled swagger. Keen to win over the smaller numbers hanging back from the stage, the local lads were putting a lot into their performance to get what little they could back from the crowd – the odd top tapping moment or approving nod from a punter otherwise too cool to lose himself in a rock and roll moment. Switching between a rawer sound (mostly in their guitar breaks and piano jams) and a more polished rock and roll, The Delta Riggs initially drew comparisons to Cold War Kids and Delta Spirit, only to lose their edge in closing number, ‘Counter Revolution’, which was too clean to sit alongside much of their other material.
When made their way onto the stage, there was a feeling of dÃ©jÃ vu, mixed with the anticipation for something brand new. Both Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner – the front men of this North American “super group” – had graced this very stage before in different incarnations, but their coming together with New Bomb Turks’ drummer Sam Brown and multi-instrumentalist Alex Fischel was the set up for something relatively unknown, which in turn felt strange given the pieces of the Divine Fits puzzle are veterans of the indie rock realm.
There were a few things immediately obvious about the band as they opened with a fuzzed up ‘Neopolitans’. Firstly, the pairing of Daniel and Boeckner looks completely weird, even if their album has proven they pull off sounding great together. Daniel was no fuss, playing it totally cool and low key, while Boeckner appeared his jittery self centre stage, jerking through tracks like he was indeed having some kind of fit. But it was also clear how comfortable the two were with how each other came across; with smiles and asides back and forth indicating that each one approved of everything the other was bringing to the performance.
With only one album to their collective name thus far, every track from A Thing Called Divine Fits had an airing, with Daniel and Boeckner pretty much going one for one on lead duties. It was hard not to hear the sound of Spoon or Wolf Parade in the voices, but the combination of the band as a whole did demonstrate a new branding. The absence of any Spoon or Wolf Parade “covers” kept things genuinely Divine Fits, too, and perhaps surprisingly there appeared to be no expectation from the crowd to hear anything else – a sign that they’ve cemented a following all of their own.
Most of the set’s best moments were saved until late in the game, with a particular peak during ‘The Salton Sea’, on which Daniel and Boeckner gave their first real duet, creating a clashing vocal that you wouldn’t have thought would work hearing their differences on the preceding tracks. ‘Like Ice Cream’ and closer ‘For Your Heart’ powered things up, too, with both tracks demonstrating a fierce endurance in Boeckner’s guitar and Brown’s skills on the kit – the two exhausting themselves in extended round outs on each song. To flesh things out, a few covers extended the set to over an hour and proved memorable, too. Renditions of Tom Petty and The Rolling Stones made the cut, but neither of those (nor arguably any of the originals) stood out quite like the final cover of ‘Shivers’, on which Daniel’s voice peaked on every chorus and grappled right on to the memories of those in the room.
Good humoured, but with only the occasional quip, Divine Fits weren’t the most chatty band (the most the Corner got from Boeckner was advice on where to go to craft a good blanket) and rounded things out relatively early. Still, they’d managed to ensure no one went without hearing their favourite Divine Fits track (by playing all 11) and performed as any great band should – as though they were having as much fun as those listening.