Divine Fits rage and wail at Union Transfer (photos, recap, setlist)

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There’s always the fear with any supergroup—at least in theory—that because it’s a side project, the members won’t put forth as much effort. However, this affliction did not affect Divine Fits — a collaboration between Spoon’s Britt Daniel, The Handsome Furs’/Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner, and New Bomb Turks’ Sam Brown—last night at Union Transfer. Rather, the band (who Boeckner at least has stated is not a side project, but the main deal) rollicked and raged their way through an hour-and-ten-minute set of tunes, drawn from debut record A Thing Called Divine Fits, with a few covers mixed in.

The band started its set in pitch darkness, a ballet playing as they took the stage. From there, it was straight into Thing track “Neopolitans,” Boeckner swinging his long hair as he attacked his guitar, and Daniel gripping the mic tightly as he let loose a stream of vocals. The dual front men switched off on vocal and guitar duties throughout, and while both proved masters at crafting skulking, high-stakes rock, it was interesting to note their different approaches. Boeckner thrashed and flopped about like a rock’n roll marionette, moved by angst and passion—while Daniel stood tense, necks muscles pulsing, opening his mouth really wide as if to bite and swallow the sound. Behind them, Brown pounded out steady, emphatic beats, while touring keyboardist Alex Fischel proved a maniac in his own right, contributing spot-on harmonies and dramatics.

Thing tune “Flaggin’ a Ride” was a set highlight, Daniel spiting into the mic acrimoniously, while “What Gets You Alone” (described by Boeckner as “the first song Britt and I wrote together”) featured excellent guitar raging and a tender moment for Boeckner, as he stared straight out into the crowd to croon, “My heart’s a mess.” “Civilian Stripes” was equally moving, as both front men shared harmonies—and covers of Frank Ocean’s “Lost” and Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky” proved fun detours. The encore saw 2 more covers—of The Rolling Stone’s “Sway” (Boeckner and Daniel whooping around with glee) and the Boys Next Door’s “Shivers,” the latter of which also appears on Thing. The band ended its set with an extended guitar freak-out, the crowd raging right alongside them. You might even describe it as a musical fit…and a divine one at that.

SETLIST
Neopolitans
Baby Gets Worse
Flaggin’ a Ride
The Salton Sea
What Gets You Alone
Civilian Stripes
Lost (Frank Ocean cover)
My Love Is Real
You Got Lucky (Tom Petty cover)
Like Ice Cream
Would That Not Be Nice
For Your Heart

ENCORE
Sway (Rolling Stones cover)
Shivers (Boys Next Door cover)

Philly new wave revivalists Cold Cave opened the show performing as a 5-piece, their brooding tunes casting a wave of darkness over the crowd. Front man Wes Eishold channeled Nick Cave, with thick, encompassing vocals—while bassist Hunter Burgan (of AFI) thrashed and railed like a demon possessed. The band’s short set resonated with passion and fury, especially on set closer “The Great Pan Is Dead,” off their 2011 record Cherish the Light Years. The band recently announced a new record in the works; after last night, we’re excited to hear it.

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