Los Angeles is filled with rare and special treats for hardcore music fans. For whatever reason—be it the deeply ingrained ties to the music “business,” the weather or the massive population of the city—LA inhabitants have come to expect special events and “secret shows” as a part of regular life. Given the sheer multitude of events it’s surprising that they still can spark excitement. When the event is the new supergroup Divine Fits from Britt Daniel, Dan Boeckner and Sam Brown, excitement is exactly the feeling that’s evoked.
Playing a special live-to-tape set for KCRW at the Santa Monica-based Apogee’s Berkeley Street Studio, the band played to a tiny crowd of press, station donors and VIPs. The standard format for such events is two short sets with a small interview from a resident KCRW DJ. With the smallest of introductions, the trio expanded to a four-piece with keyboardist Alex Fischel took to the stage. What’s instantly apparent is the band’s sound is remarkably balanced. Guitar, bass and keyboards manage to occupy different enough parts of the auditory spectrum that each piece is completely audible and recognizable.
For the most part Daniel occupies his usual bassist/vocalist role. On opener “Flaggin’ a Ride” Daniel takes the vocal lead, snarling out lines while the band hammers out chords with punk rock energy. Boeckner sings lead on “Baby Gets Worse” and emotes with a style that might remind you of Iggy Pop in his prime. Daniel and Boeckner juggle instruments through the duration, alternating between bass, guitar or just singing while the other played guitar.
The brief interview with KCRW DJ Dan Wilcox follows. Wilcox asks real questions but the interview takes on a humorous and joking tone. There’s no real deep insight to be gleamed in this format. The band merely seems out to have fun and enjoy a free and open band experience. Drummer Dan Brown quips that they found him via Craigslist. Daniel jokes that he didn’t know how many cigarettes Boeckner would smoke in a given day. It’s easy for a conversation like this to come off as snarky and too-cool-for-school, but the banter is truly witty and the crowd laughs along throughout.
After the break, the band dives back in with “For Your Heart,” “My Love Is Real” and “Like Ice Cream.” These tracks lean further towards electro, Fischel’s tones providing a backdrop not unlike the dance-y moments from of Montreal or the soundtrack to last year’s film Drive. The band ends with a pair of covers. Boeckner enthusiastically fronts a cover of Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky” and Daniel channels the early career vocal style of Nick Cave in their cover of Cave’s first band The Boys Next Door’s “Shivers.” Divine Fits has something special in their focus and spirit. The only challenge here is the same as any supergroup: will this be a temporary project that only exists for a short run like Them Crooked Vultures, or will they make this band their primary focus?
Flaggin a Ride
Baby Gets Worse
Would That Not Be Nice
For Your Heart
My Love is Real
Like Ice Cream
You Got Lucky
Britt Daniel – Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Dan Boeckner – Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Sam Brown – Drums
Alex Fischel – Keyboards, Guitar
All photos by Jeremiah Garcia for KCRW