So this “10 year anniversary tour” idea seems to be a hit. Thursday did a 10-year run for Full Collapse; Andrew W.K. for I Get Wet. Other bands seem to be catching Last year, David Bazan did a tour in support of the decade anniversary of Control.
I attended the Orlando date on a cool night (by Florida standards, anyway) in late November. Bazan and band played one of my favorite venues in all of the country: The Social. It’s an intimate, unique little place.
I’ve lived in Florida my whole life – as such, I wouldn’t know anything about basements or tornado shelters. When you first walk in the front door of the Social, you are level with the stage. The rest of the main floor looks to be carved out of the ground. I haven’t seen anything like it in a venue, and especially one here in the Sunshine State, where we are notorious for our sinkholes.
Ever experienced a sinkhole? If not, let me describe it for you: underneath the fragile transportation infrastructure we have created rests the earth. Parts of the penis state are at sea level or below it. You can’t dig more than two feet without hitting water of some kind here. When you build something heavy like a highway (or I don’t know, a house) above the undulating, eroding soil, there’s a distinct possibility that you and said object may disappear into the earth forever and ever, amen.
What a terrifying reality. And we have giant cockroaches here and the homelessness rate in my county (Hillsborough) is nuts. Lesson: don’t ever come to Florida.
How does this relate to David Bazan’s Control? It doesn’t.
So Bazan played all of Control, which is in this author’s opinion, the best Pedro the Lion release. He also played older PTL (heh) stuff and a selection of songs from his new solo work. It was a deeply moving show because, man: Control is so heavy. We’re talking Jeff Buckley “Hallelujah” levels of heavy.
I love Bazan’s work because it’s unabashedly honest. He is a gifted storyteller, holds nothing back (especially when writing about himself), and writes in an easy-to-digest, down to earth manner.
I would never dare to call it “simple” – but it is believable and, at times, relatable. Control is pretty all over the place content-wise. It’s well documented that Bazan is formerly some type of believer but now is a ‘full-blown’ atheist, whatever that means.
Some of this record explores the darker parts of so-called ‘backsliders.’ Both “Rapture” and “Penetration” are sexually-themed (and explicit at times). Meanwhile, tracks like “Second Best” are reflective and melancholy lyrically, but musically are so. damn. angry.
Bazan’s live shows are also special because he takes questions in between songs. I’ve not seen an artist attempt that before. Instead of awkward “How you don’ tonight [insert city? Are you having a good time?!” banter, he fields queries (heh) from the crowd, which seems to foster an heir of dialogue with the artist. I wouldn’t call it unprecedented, but it further destroys any latent “rock star” image.
The work of David Bazan under the moniker of Pedro the Lion spans a bunch of albums and EPs, and the vast majority of it is golden, but especially Control. This is one of those “decade” albums, and I’m pleased as punch not just that he toured it, but that I got to be there. Live music is crucial.
From 2002’s masterful Control, this is David Bazan (performing as Pedro the Lion) with “Magazine” –
Standout tracks: Where to begin? 90% of this record nails it.
Weakest track: …while I tend to feel that this album hits on all cylinders, the only track that lacks that extra ‘gumption’ is “Progress”
RIYL: Singer-songwriters, Bazan’s solo stuff, mid-tempo acoustic jams with some deep, meta lyrics.