David Bazan @ Lee’s Palace

. : : September 18th, 2010 : : .

What do you mean, it’s been just shy of eleven months since I stood in this exact spot and watched they exact musicians perform their music for me?! It feels like no time passed at all!

But the four men on stage, the venue and my location were about the only things familiar about David Bazan‘s recent stop by Lee’s Palace in Toronto. The band was a bit leaner this time — missing both an extra guitar and keyboards with Eric Elbogen, who was doing double duty on the last tour, opening for Bazan with his band Say Hi — but the songs were almost unrecognizably heavier. That is to say, the very few songs that were repeated — the setlist was almost night and day different from his last go around, borrowing more from his Pedro The Lion oeuvre than from his most recent LP, the solo disc Curse Your Branches.

It was also one of the poorer sounding mixes I’ve experienced at Lee’s Palace. That being said, a poor sounding Lee’s Palace is still light years ahead of a great sounding Opera House, so I’ll take what I can get. However, the sound snafu couldn’t have come at a worse time. The morning after the failed microphones at the Roger Waters concert, I took a Phillips head to my microphone battery box to replace the battery for the first time in three or four years of using the set. I was certain this had to be the problem, didn’t it? A fresh battery and some tightened screws later, I plugged back in and ran a quick test. I was dismayed. Still, no sound. Could my expensive microphones need to be replaced already? Ugh. I didn’t want to believe it. I straightened the wires taunt, fiddled with the connections, made sure none were bent, but had absolutely no luck. So I took to my local mastermind, Google, with the problem. Turns out the mics are fine (likely), but a problem with the exact symptoms of my Edirol are a well-known issue that stems back to the original R-09 model’s line and mic-in jacks. Apparently, it’s nothing a quick soldering iron can’t fix. The problems with that? A) I don’t own a soldering iron, and B) I wouldn’t know how to use one if I did. Luckily, the device is still fairly new and under warranty, and the next couple of weeks are slow for concerts, so barring the Roger Waters show and the next day’s David Bazan show, it really couldn’t have stopped working at a better time. So it’s being sent out to Mississauga for repairs today. Apparently a right-angle plug will help take some of the strain off of the jack, so I will have to try and remember to pick one of those up shortly.

But that brings me back to Lee’s Palace and David Bazan’s set. Seeing as the mics needed to be elevated and I wore a hoodie to the show (to help with suffering the drizzling rain on my journey to Lee’s), I placed my recording bag on the right stack’s subs, and propped the recorder up upon a few of the knickknacks placed inside to help absorb some of the vibrations. Unfortunately, my little recording science experiment didn’t work out quite as well as I’d hoped, and my recording for both David Bazan and his tour support Mynabirds turned out crazy bassy. I had to drop the HECK out of the lower registers during EQ — but it helped quite a bit. The vocals are still sometimes overpowered by the sure rock of the guitars and drums, but it’s an authentic representation of the experience. Seriously, David Bazan rocked THAT hard.

I’m more familiar with Pedro The Lion’s quieter, laid back, oft-acoustic material, and The Headphones were primarily focused around synths. On this tour, both of these are more or less thrown out the window for loud, distorted, in-your-face indie rock. I was caught completely off guard by this drastic change of pace, and I loved it. I could tell I wasn’t the only one: other than the capacity crowd in attendance, David himself was having an absolute blast. If you couldn’t tell from his open banter, top top-to-bottom energetic performance, and continuously excited visage, you probably caught on when he expressed how much “fucking fun” he was having several times throughout the evening. The crowd ate it up, and exploded with such enthusiastic response that David didn’t even make it three-quarters of the way off stage before turning back around and plugging back in for the solo two-song encore.

It was clear this tour is for the old school fans as less than a third of the setlist borrowed from his solo work, but the entire night translated well to even a relatively recent fan such as myself. My only regrets are that the sound in the venue wasn’t optimal, and my recorder was out of order — but I’m still glad I captured a fantastic night of music. Worth a download for a fan, and if you get a chance, do yourself a favour and go see Bazan on this tour. You won’t regret it.

01. Bless This Mess
02. Gaslight and Matches
03. Transcontinental
04. I Do
05. Rehearsal
06. I Am Always The One Who Calls
07. [banter]
08. Of Minor Prophets And Their Prostitute Wives
09. Start Without Me
10. Hard To Be
11. Indian Summer
12. [banter]
13. Please, Baby, Please
14. Options
15. When They Really Get To Know You They Will Run
16. The Fleecing
17. Bearing Witness
18. How I Remember
19. [banter]
20. Bands With Managers
21. Won’t Let Go
22. [banter]
23. Priests and Paramedics

[info.txt // flac fingerprint ]
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Please, Baby, Please (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]

Thanks to David Bazan and co., The Mynabirds, Lee’s Palace and Barsuk Records for a phenomenal night.

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