“Maximum Occupancy: 249” the sign said and it wasn’t even full. Maybe 150 kids there. Among those that did check out this show were members of the future Indie Rock Hall of Fame…
I love two band bills, especially when both bands are good. I came to see David Bazan (myspace) , even though I saw him a month ago at the Fillmore (with Ben Gibbard) but as the show approached, I kept hearing people talk about it in terms of the New Year. I hadn’t really heard of them, though I had heard of their previous band, Bedhead; I was excited to see what they had to offer.
Bazan was up first. I’ve seen him a ridiculous number of times; he tours a lot and I always enjoy seeing his sets. This was no different. Overall, he played a pretty similar set to that Fillmore gig. This time he started with, I think “Of Minor Prophets and Their Prostitute Wives” and then “The Devil is Beating his Wife”. He played a number of songs from “Achilles Heel” and his solo EP. Two songs he played that I haven’t heard in either a long time, or ever, were “Secret of the Easy Yoke” and “Options”. About “Secret” I heard him later say that he didn’t feel any spark during that song. We did, though, as evidenced by the kid a few feet to my left that said “thank you” after he played it. He closed the set with his Leonard Cohen cover, “Hallelujah”. It felt like a short set, but I’m not sure it was.
It was good to see Bazan back on the small stage. I like being able to see his quirky facial expressions and slouching. I like that he did his “Anyone have any questions?” thing again. These are the sorts of things that make him seem like a normal guy (that can write amazing songs).
It was during the latter half of Bazan’s set that I started noticing it. But more on that later. This is a music blog, after all, so I’ll cover the music first.
The New Year was up next. As I said, I hadn’t heard of them before this concert. They’re a five piece, I think: three guitars (one of which switches to keyboard sometimes), bass, drums. They sort of remind me of early Pedro the Lion and of Seam (who I just posted about.) Pedro the Lion for the interlocking lines from all the different instruments and Seam for some of the same, plus the quiet vocals, the sense of melody in the loud parts. The mix was good and the band put on an enjoyable set, even for someone that didn’t know any of their songs.
The New Year – Age of Conceit (mp3)
I don’t have a NYC-inferiority complex, but the NYC blogs are always talking about spotting sufjan or bowie at a show. Well…
So I knew John Vanderslice was going to be at the show because we’d talked about it beforehand. Before Bazan went on I saw a guy and a girl walking to the back section, with the billiard tables. They looked familiar; they were Jason and Kori aka The Mates of State. As Bazan went on I saw JV and he was with Ian Bjornstad, his keyboard player (and upstart solo artist). Dave Douglas (JV’s drummer) joined them shortly there after. During the middle of the set I saw someone walk toward the bar: Yup, Ben Gibbard. I started to think What’s with this night?.
After Bazan’s set I was chatting to JV and his bandmates (save Broecker, who was in Seattle) in the courtyard area and I saw Mark Kozelek poke his head out into that area. After the New Year went on, JV went back to near the back to watch the show. JV waved me over and introduced me to Chris. I said the “Hi. I’m Adrian” thing and then I realized: Oh, that’s Chris Walla. So I was standing there watching a show with what ended up being JV, Bjornstad, Walla, Gibbard, Bazan, and Kozelek.
Afterwards, Kozelek took off pretty quickly and I didn’t see the Mates after Bazan at all, but I chatted to Chris, Ben, JV, Bjornstad and Bazan. Overall a really nice set of people. I got the most nervous talking to Bazan, for whatever reason. There was a surreal situation where I was explaining some mechanical engineering principles behind a mechanism in a consumer product to Ben and JV. (I swear, they were asking about it. I’d cut myself short but Ben kept asking more questions.)
No less interesting to talk to, though a bit lower profile were:
One piece of juicy gossip: Mates of State are recording right now at Tiny Telephone with (I believe) super producer Chris Walla at the helm. I’m excited to hear that.
You can buy Pedro the Lion, David Bazan, The New Year, and Bedhead stuff at insound.