“Have you guys seen any good movies? Did you get your picks in for your Oscar pool?” David Bazan (myspace) is well-known for pausing between songs and asking if the audience has any questions for him, but now he was asking us questions. The question launched a five minute discussion. He wants to see the Wrestler, a recommendation that was confirmed by a few audience members. 2008 was a great year for kids movies, Tale of Despereaux notwithstanding. Gran Torino was a very straight ahead, but still great, movie.
Bazan was playing the Berkeley house show that I mentioned a few weeks ago. I’ve heard shows being described as having an intimate, living room feel to them. This was that and more–it was one of the most immediate, conversational shows I’ve seen. Playing without any amplification, Bazan sat on a chair with his guitar in front of the fireplace as the audience sat on the floor in a semi-circle around him.
After playing a couple new songs–the new record’s done and it’s in Barsuk’s hands, he later told us–he launched into a Pedro the Lion classic “When They Really Get To Know You”. With the only sounds coming from Bazan, his guitar, and his foot tapping (and a few camera clicks), the attentive audience seemed to be collectively entranced.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have used ‘cum’ twice in one record. There should be some rule about that, but at the time it seemed just as valid as any other word.” Now he was answering a question about his favorite albums and maybe somethings he would do differently.
The rest of the set was filled with new songs as well as some others like “Priests and Paramedics”, “the Longer I Lay Here”, “Hot Girls” (Headphones song), “Please Baby Please”, “Fewer Moving Parts”, “The Man in Me” (Dylan Cover). “The Longer I Lay Here” was noteworthy and indicative of the evening. “Hey, do you remember ‘The Longer I Lay Here’?” “Yeah, I can play that one.” I’ve seen Bazan a lot of times and he’s taken a lot of questions but he’s never in all of those times taken a request. But this evening we were just a bunch of people sitting around a living room listening to someone play a guitar and sing songs.
Shawn and I were talking afterwards about how Bazan doesn’t affect an aura at all; rock star Bazan is the same as having-a-beer-in-the-kitchen Bazan. For all the upsides and downsides of that, it does make an evening like this one possible and successful. In a setting like this show, where there isn’t room for a stage and there isn’t even room for a microphone or amplifier, there’s certainly no room for affectation. And, on this night, the audience was just fine with that.