On Saturday I saw two of my favorite songwriters, Mark Kozelek (of Sun Kil Moon, formerly of Red House Painters) and David Bazan (myspace, formerly of Pedro the Lion) at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
There are some obvious similarities between the two. Each artist has past involving various bands and has recorded solo. Each could be (somewhat broadly) described by the following terms: folk, rock, melancholy, acoustic. Both would be staples of the sub-genre sadcore if anyone still used that term. It the end, the show ended up being two great and distinctive performances.
David Bazan came on a few minutes after they flashed the lights in the lobby. I’ve seen him so many times by now that it’s hard to say something different about his shows. But the thing is this: I’ve seen him so many times because:
- he’s touring all the time
- he always puts on a good show
So why not see him every time through town? I do… This show was good as always. The music was mostly new songs that “will be on the new album unless [he writes] better songs before then” but he did have a few from the last EP, like “Cold Beer and Cigarettes” and “Fewer Moving Pieces”. The new songs (many of which I also heard at his SxSW set at Jovita’s). There are a few that I’m looking forward to hearing the studio versions of. You can hear some of these new live songs at It’s Hard to Find a Friend. One of my favorites is “Please Baby Please” and if you know Bazan’s borderline satirical lyrical style, you know that that’s not going to be an average love song.
He’s got a pretty awkward stage presence in quite an endearing way. At one point he was talking about usually when he meets new people or plays in front of an audience of people that might not know his stuff he assumes they think he’s a douche bag. But recently he’s been going into these situations assuming the opposite. Then he added “and now of course I’m a douche bag for saying that….”
After an intermission Mark Kozelek came on with another former Red House Painter Phil Carney, both playing guitar with Mark Kozelek front and center on the mic as well.
His set of songs included some from all throughout his musical career. He played one of my favorites “Rock N Roll Singer” (AC/DC cover) and at least two Modest Mouse songs (“Tiny Cities”, “Four Fingered Fisherman”) and a number of originals. With his fluid fingerpicking and reverb-heavy vocals and Phil’s equally fluid guitar playing, it was soon a very hypnotic set of music.
At one point he started a song and someone let out a cheer. Mark stopped the song and said “You don’t know what song that is. I mean, it could be any of my songs” and then proceeded to play the same fingerpicked set of chords while starting some of songs like “Glenn Tipton” and two more.
Besides the music there were some noteworthy and amusing intersong banter. With three guitars (nylon string, steel string and 12 string) and a different (non-standard, for the most part) tuning for each song, there was a lot of time spent tuning. During one of these pauses, he asked for questions. He’d just mentioned coming from Ohio and someone yelled out:
audience member 1: Where in Ohio are you from?
Kozelek: I’m not going to tell you that. Look it up on my wikipedia page or something.
[and it continued]
audience member 2: Where do you live?
Kozelek: I’m not going to tell you that either.
After a few more questions, Kozelek got a little frustrated with the line of questioning:
Kozelek: Alright. Enough questions.
audience member 3: Are you coming out for an encore?
Kozelek: I don’t know. There’s a very comfortable chair back there. Once I sit down, I may not want to get up.
The other themes of the stage banter were about how he was uncomfortable because people seemed so far away and about how all his friends have been moving to Portland or Brooklyn.
All in all, it was an excellent show with consistently good sets from both artists.