. : : June 14th, 2011 : : .
This is where I normally blog about the adventures I had before or on the way to the show.
However, the day before David Bazan‘s return to Lee’s Palace was about as nondescript as it comes. If you really must know, I played video games and took a nap. There may have been some web browsing in there, as well. No train delays, no angry hobos, no hassle getting into the venue.
So, I guess I will instead give a little background on the show itself. Bazan has made it an almost yearly tradition to swing by Lee’s Palace for a set in the autumn. He was seriously just here last September. And you certainly can’t accuse the man of resting on his laurels since then. He opened two weeks’ worth of shows for Jimmy Eat World, did a small, intimate series of shows across the US in fans’ living rooms, and, oh yeah, recorded and released an entirely new album of material.
The album was financially aided, in part, by Kickstarter — and, full disclosure, I was one of the band’s supporters. The band’s last album, Curse Your Branches, was great, featuring some of my favourite songs of 2009, including Hard To Be, Please Baby Please, and In Stitches. So, I was glad when the new disc turned around lightning quick. I haven’t spent as much time with Strange Negotiations as I’d like to — nor nearly as much as it deserves — but Wolves At The Door is an early contender for best songs of 2011.
I was excited to see Bazan at his familiar haunt again, so soon. It was a bit surprising to see that the band had trimmed down again. The first time I saw the band perform (in 2009, for those keeping track), the band was a five piece. Last year, a standard four piece. This spring? A super slim trio. More surprising was just how full and tight the band sounded.
In the “You Don’t Get To See That Every Day” part of the set, drummer Alex Westcoat even performed all the keyboard parts at the show without missing a single percussive beat, one-handed! Andy Fitts switched between bass and guitar as necessary, and provided the perfect backing vox for Bazan. Needless to say, Bazan himself sounded like a masterpiece. Even short one guitar (and a lot of keys), the tunes sounded full and never truly sounding like they were lacking without a lead.
In one of the weirder moments of the night, after the main set, the gentleman doing sound starting spinning music. No encore? Weird. David even seemed to wave off the crowd’s enthusiastic cheers while starting to tear down the stage. I’m not sure if it was all a part of the act or not, but if so, well-executed. Regardless of legitimacy, this crowd — smaller than the last two to catch David at Lee’s — was able to coax two more songs out of the man, and we were treated to an encore nevertheless. Planned or not, who’s to say? But it at least felt a little more special than the usual forced encore breaks.
The main dance floor was filled with people, but the sides were fairly sparsely populated. Since I tape directly off the left hand speaker stack, this worked out quite well for me. There’s almost no crowd noise to speak of, and because Lee’s sounded wonderful, the band, the venue and both of their sound is well-represented on this tape. I’d say it’s a Must-Have for Bazan fans, and a Should-Listen for new ears. Give the sample a shot, and enjoy the recording!
01. Wolves At The Door
02. How I Remember
03. Level With Youself
04. Bless This Mess
07. Of Up And Coming Monarchs [Pedro The Lion]
09. Big Trucks [Pedro The Lion]
12. Eating Paper
13. Magazine [Pedro The Lion]
14. Cold Beer and Cigarettes
16. Bearing Witness
17. Won’t Let Go
18. Don’t Change
19. When They Really Get To Know You, They Will Run [Pedro The Lion]
20. Strange Negotiations
22. [new song]
24. Priests and Paramedics [Pedro the Lion]
Thanks to David Bazan, Andy Fitts and Alex Westcoat, Undertow, Barsuk, and Lee’s Palace.