February 20, 2012
Living Room Show
I had the pleasure of seeing David Bazan and his band at The Constellation Room in December of last year, and my subsequent gushing about how moving and intimate I'd found the show to be was met by a chorus of Bazan fans insisting I get my ass out to one of his incredible living room shows. Three months later, I had the good fortune of finding myself (and my ass) comfortably positioned on a couch in a living room with 20 or 30 other Bazan diehards to see the man do his thing.
They were right. It couldn't have been better.
Bazan showed up shortly after the 8 p.m. start time, took a couple of
minutes to set up his burgundy Epiphone SG, a small cube amp, and a
homemade lamp, and launched into “Wolves At The Door” (the first track
of 2011's masterpiece, Strange Negotiations). He told us that ditching
the acoustic guitar for the SG and an amp allowed him to play more
confidently, and that confidence and comfort showed as made the most of
the stripped down performance by taking liberties with phrasing and
improvisation, which made the delivery of his thought-provoking and
introspective lyrics seem even more impassioned than they had at The
Bazan played for about 70 minutes (which flew by…I could have
watched him for hours), the highlight of which was a gorgeous version of
“Options” from Pedro The Lion's Control. I couldn't help but notice
that there were several eyes welling up around me (because I wanted to
make sure that I wasn't the only one getting weepy.) The man has a way
with words, dynamics, and melody that moves people like few artists can.
Beyond his incredible songwriting, it's Bazan's candor that I found
most impressive. Every three or four songs, he opened the room for
questions, which he answered with a blend of honesty, humility, and dry
wit that is a tough to find in musicians these days. It's an endearing
quality that made the potential awkwardness of being huddled on the
living room floor of a stranger's house amongst strangers feel like I
was at a house party amongst friends.
The bottom line: If you're a Bazan fan, these living room shows are
an absolute must-see. If you're not a Bazan fan yet, you should be. He's
one of the most honest, soulful, and talented singer/songwriters our
generation, and these living room shows are the perfect setting to
Critic's Bias: I've never heard a Bazan song that I didn't like. How's that for bias?
The Crowd: Lots of couples, lots of beards, lots of flannels, lots of
glasses, lots of craft beers, three visibly pregnant women and one
Overheard in the Crowd:
“I used one of your songs and submitted it as my own work for an assignment in a poetry class…and got an A.”
“You should get a job selling advertising at Pitchfork.” (After Bazan played “Selling Advertising” from Fewer Moving Parts.)
“Tell us the story of the lamp.” (Regarding Bazan's homemade
telescoping lamp that provides a consistent source of mood lighting for
these living room shows.)
Random notebook dump: The show took place in a house across the
street from where Thrice recorded both The Alchemy Index and Beggars.