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David Bazan @ the Swedish American Hall

Filed under: — adrian @ 12:39 am

On Friday, Laura and I went over to see David Bazan (ex-Pedro the Lion, Headphones) at the Swedish American Hall. It was an odd billing. I had never seen DB play anything but a headlining (or co-headlining) slot and here he was opening for someone I’d never heard of Kristin Hersch (of Throwing Muses, apparently). It was also an early show (doors at 7:30pm–DB was on by 8:30ish) which led to an odd mix of older people and even some infant kids.

We got there as the first opener was in her last couple songs. She was good enough but, honestly, I didn’t pay much attention. Tip to artists, by the way: say your name or band name fairly often, and at least once at the end of your set. I don’t know the opener’s name.

David came up next. It was immediately obvious that this was going to be the most laid-back show of his that I’d seen yet: he was sitting down and playing a nylon-string guitar. (Later I also learned that he was sober, apparently a new thing for solo shows.)

I can’t remember the exact order of songs he did but he definitely did a nice mix of old (Ptl) and new songs (DB) and even one Headphones (H) song, in no particular order: “Transcontinental”(PtL), “Hot Shit” (H), “Fewer Broken Pieces”(DB) (on which he tacked on parts of a new song that he was working on), “Cold Beer and Cigarettes”(DB), “the Longer I Lay Here” (PtL), “Priests and Paramedics”(Ptl), “The Poison”(DB/ PtL), “Of Up and Coming Monarchs”(PtL), “Bands with Managers”(PtL), and “Bad Things to Good People”(PtL) (which I hadn’t listened to for quite a while but had been actually listening to earlier in the same day—good song!). I’m sure he did half-a-handful of other songs, but I can’t remember them all.

He played well and sang well—it’s sort of snuck by me that he actually has a great falsetto. I missed that some how, or at least I’d never noted it before.

It was obvious that crowd was not all DB or Pedro fanatics as some of his ‘quirkier’ lyrics ellicited giggles from the audience.

He also did his usual question-and-answer session during songs. These are always fun. One of the kids (~5 years old) asked him why he said “smokes a lot” during one of his songs (I think). DB sort of winced like he does and then awkwardly tried to explain that he said that because he doesn’t have a very good vocabulary and instead uses hyperbole to try to say what he means. He also said he uses explitives in his songs for the same reason and basically apologized to the father for swearing around this kid. (A few minutes later he launched into “Hot Shit” of course…) The same kid also asked him if he was married and that got DB into a story about how the minister that married him left the church because he tried to go on a date with the secretary and the minister’s wife didn’t like that, “but that’s another story…”

The one question I asked was whether he regrets releasing any of his songs; if you’ve listened through his catalog, this question may occur to you as well as it sort of “switches gears”, one could say. His response was “the Promise”, the last song off of It’s Hard to Find a Friend. His reasoning was mostly that he likes the somber mood that he created with the three songs before that (“The Bells” to “Secret of the Easy Yoke” (still one of my PtL favorites) to “The Well”) and then it jumps into this “pop jingle” as he calls it. He we was too scared to end on a somber note then. He also doesn’t particuarly like “the Promise.”

After the show, it was still early so Laura and I headed over to Sparky’s for a milkshake and a slice of delicious pumpkin pie. I think I am currently suffering from a heart attack due to consuming these foods, but, dang, it was worth it. The milkshake was possibly one of the best I’ve ever had: a perfectly blended vanilla ice cream with a dollop of peanut butter shake.

After the break, check out more photos and my list of David Bazan/ Pedro/ Headphones shows.

[this picture is sort of blurry but it is a classic David Bazan wince:]

View a couple more pictures here

  • February 14, 2001 Pedro the Lion w/ Low at Sommerville Theater
  • September 16, 2001 Pedro the Lion w/ Seldom and TW Walsh at the Middle East Downstairs
  • May 4, 2002 Pedro the Lion w/ Damien Jurado(?) at the Middle East Downstairs
  • November 3, 2002 Pedro the Lion w/ Seldom at the TT the Bear’s
  • May 5, 2003 Pedro the Lion w/ Stratford 4, Alan Sparhawk (solo) and Ester Drang at the Middle East Downstairs
  • February 27, 2004 Pedro the Lion w/ John Vanderslice and the Advantage at Great American Music Hall
  • June 2, 2004 Pedro the Lion w/ John Vanderslice at Bottom of the Hill
  • December 7, 2004 Pedro the Lion w/ Half-Life Souvenir and Viva Voce at Slim’s
  • March 29, 2005 Low w/ Pedro the Lion at the Great American Music Hall
  • May 30, 2005 the Headphones w/ Crystal Skulls and Serene Lakes @ Cafe du Nord
  • December 4, 2005 David Bazan w/ Rosie Thomas at the Bottom of the Hill
  • October 26, 2006 David Bazan at the Swedish American Hall

As far as I can tell, I only have missed one DB/ PtL concert that was in the same place I was: this past summer’s July 27 David Bazan (solo) show at the Bottom of the Hill. And actually, I just remembered, I was flying the red eye that night for the East Coast Wedding Bonzana.

This is quite possibly the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back, though: it is not reasonable to see a band or artist twelve times. Twelve times! That’s it, I go to too many concerts. The only other group that approaches is the Mates of State, who I’ve seen eight times at last count. The common thread is that they tour constantly and I started liking them both early on in my concert-going years. (And actually, I’ve seen John Vanderslice seven times now, but he’s local and my “friend” so that sort of semi-counts.)

2 Responses to “David Bazan @ the Swedish American Hall”

  1. Alex Says:

    I’m guessing those shots were taken with your new D80 (?). Either way, they nicely capture Bazan’s emotion.

  2. adrian Says:

    Yeah, these were with my new D80. I was using my 80-200mm f/2.8 lens there too.

    I’m not too good with the D80 yet.

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