In the cool and misty rain–something that must have made both Pacific Northwest artists feel somewhat at home–I made my way to the club at the bottom of the north slope of Potrero Hill.
Joining the show shortly after Ms. Gibson started, I noted that her band was the same set up as when I saw her during Noise Pop at the Great American: Laura on guitar and two others each on half a drum set and a number of other instruments. I believe they’re both a part of Musee Mecanique. Laura’s quite awkward on stage, but in an endearing and lovable way. She told a few stories between songs, some funny and some heartfelt.
The band played well throughout and the two backing members brought some nice elements to the table. Perhaps my favorite song of the set, though, was one Laura played solo–”Funeral Song”–that was very beautiful and sparse.
With a small set up for Laura and a solo set coming up, it was only a short change over until Damien Jurado was on. Sitting on a chair with his guitar, Jurado only had a mic and a stool (to rest his set list on) with him on stage.
If you saw my Damien Jurado primer last week and then glance at the set list below, you’ll notice that he came out with the big guns, especially early on. After “Ghost of David”, “Medication”, “Abilene” and “Ohio” right in a row, I was already ready to declare it a good show, but he just continued, pulling songs from throughout his career from very early releases through a song he wrote on this very tour.
Jurado didn’t speak much between songs and when he did it was a mixture of longing for home–missing his wife–self deprecation and admitting he was crazy after five weeks on the road. One quick story involved playing in Austin one night and then deciding to drive through to Tuscon, which turned out to be a 15 hour drive, the same night and he’s the only driver in his car. Another time after a couple more upbeat songs, he said, ‘Enough happy songs,’ adding after some laughter and applause, ‘Yay depression!’
I know some people who prefer people preferring as part of a full band rather than solo, but I find more opportunity to connect to the songs when they’re stripped down. With ever-changing arrangements of songs like ‘Ghost of David’ and ‘Ohio’, those stay fresh to me even in an acoustic arrangement.
With eyes cast at the floor, Jurado played a great set–a killer set, even. I’m still reeling from it. Better song selection than I could have asked for and new and different arrangements of old songs were good to hear too. The climax of the set was ‘Killer’, a song I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him do live before. It was dark and strong and mesmerizing. There was an intense look in his eyes and an edge in his voice and, though the narrator is obviously a fictional persona, it seemed as though Jurado was thoroughly invested in the song and the character.
Damien Jurado’s setlist, 5/5/09, Bottom of the Hill, SF:
- Ghost of David
- [not sure]
- Last Rights
- Coats of Ice
- [new song]
- Johnny Go Riding
- Letters and Drawings
- I Can’t Get Over You
- Denton, TX
- What Were the Chances
- Lose My Head
Lastly, can I say how much I love two band bills? Big fan.
 Do you think I should adopt the New York Times style guidelines in regards to names?