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David Bazan @ Lee’s Palace

      . : : October 22nd, 2009 : : .

I shouldn’t like David Bazan.

I’ve read about the man — I’m sure any indie-rock loving fellow in college will come across some article or recommendation for his well-known projects Pedro The Lion and Headphones has — and that’s part of the problem. Nary a paragraph is written without strong emphasis on Bazan’s repetitive themes overtly circling religion and politics. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not so naive to believe that politics and religion don’t play integral parts of favourites on my playlists. No, rather, it’s the overtness I had a problem with. My dismissal was based on an reflexive “oh, one of those Christian bands” reaction. After all, if I wanted to listen to a sermon, I’d go to church. Or at least listen to the Sister Act soundtrack, or something.

It’s because of this knee-jerk reaction to some bloggers’ articles that Pedro the Lion was largely ignored in the formative years I most actively pursued new independent musicians. Somehow or another, I ended up listening to Bad Diary Days from It’s Hard To Find A Friend and I instantly fell in love. I wish I could say that I came instantly more proactive in consuming Bazan’s music but it wasn’t until I was sent a copy of Bazan’s first solo effort, the Fewer Moving Parts EP, that I managed to sit through a whole record from start to finish. With stanza’s like “Am I a Christian? / Are you a Jew? / Did you kill my lord? / Must I forgive you?” (Selling Advertising), I wasn’t spared the religious overtones but I was hooked by the wry, pointed lyrics and the unrelenting energy that was missing from his previous works. When, some time later, I received my advance copy of Curse Your Branches, I became anxious. Would that energy and excitement so clearly evident on a debut EP carry over onto a sophomore effort? My doubts were quickly diminished seconds into the spectacular opening track, Hard To Be.

I can’t claim to be the most seasoned fan in the building when David made a stop at Lee’s Palace in the first full-band leg of his tour to promote his first solo full-length, nor could I claim to have recognized the majority of his set list — but I can say I left with a memorable experience under my belt and a handful of new favourite songs to remember it by. David and the band brought a great show, but something that made it especially memorable was taking breaks between songs to field questions from the audience. This sort of reciprocal dialogue was clearly appreciated by the audience who hung on his every word, spoken or sung.

As for the recording itself: in my haste to leave the house, I forgot to bring an extra MiniDisc with me! I knew David had a few more songs to go, so I was faced with the split decision of either missing the last few tracks or cutting out some in-between song banter and switching the recording mode to Mono to increase space on the disc. I think I made the right decision with the latter. My apologies to the gentleman whose question and answer were both stricken from the record while I swapped settings. As with all my MiniDisc recordings, there are inexplicable half-second drop-outs occasionally. Sorry.

  1. Hard To Be
  2. Please Baby Please
  3. I Do
  4. Bless This Mess
  5. Magazine
  6. Heavy Breath
  7. Cold Beer and Cigarettes
  8. When We Fell
  9. Lost My Shape
  10. Curse Your Branches
  11. Fewer Broken Pieces
  12. Bearing Witness
  13. Keep Swinging
  14. How I Remember
  15. I Never Wanted You
  16. [cut / switch to Mono]*
  17. In Stitches
  18. Priests and Paramedics
  19. The Man In Me [Bob Dylan]
  20. Harmless Sparks

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Please Baby Please (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]


Thanks to David Bazan and co., Barsuk Records, and my peeps at Lee’s. Please download and distribute this recording freely, and support the bands by buying their albums, merchandise and concert tickets when they perform in your town.

Published inLive Recordings

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