photo: Chadwick Gantes
I went to the Dave Bazan house show at Habitat House last night, so this is where things get heavy. There’s a density in a week like this, over exhaustion mixed with over stimulation is this hazy formula that makes me eyelids heavier and my speech a little slower. I’m headed to San Francisco right now where I’ll meet my boyfriend and some good friends but I wanted to remember last night, and give it due consideration in the absense of any photo or video at my disposal.
I usually apologize for how long my Bazan posts get, but if you know me, you’d understand. I first started listening to Bazan when I was in college, when my friend Billy Hamilton sent me the Control album, so I spent the next couple of years playing catch up to Headphones, Its Hard to Find a Friend, Achilles Heel etc. When you first start listening to the artist you know will be with you for a while, it’s a lot like falling in love in that the temperament, season and timing has gotta be right. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have caught them in that way, like you did. But I caught on quick.
This was my second or third house show, so there’s a certain familiarity to it all. When he walks in, it’s like he’s been in the room the whole time, but everyone kind of awkwardly shifts to wait for him to speak in his brawny baritone tone. It was last night that I realized why I appreciate Dave Bazan so much, it’s the nostalgia of the songs, sure- but more than anything it’s a reminder of why I even love music in the first place. Despite how extraordinarily fortunate I am to be doing the work that I do, and to be living my life in this way- there is that overarching dullness to the routine of waking up, washing my face, eating the same piece of dry toast, typing and typing, and fighting a losing battle to sleep everynight. There is little magic in all of that. But when I hear Bazan, I can, at least for a little while, shed that neutral state. I know it because I’m so attentive to everything. It’s a beautiful exchange that I believe he must inhale from the crowd every night.
There’s almost a sense of pride when watching the evolution of an artist, that they continue to produce real art, maintain their authenticity, and command new and thoughtful observations on their life and the general state of their place in the world. I think that’s what he’s done with Strange Negotiations. Less “religion and booze” and more carefully concealed anger, like he’s nearly coming to peace with it all. That’s most evident in “People” where he sings about how kindness used to be a pervasive norm, where he sings, “but now you’re selfish and mean, your eyes glued to the screen and what titilates you is depraved and obscene and I know that it is dangerous to judge but man you gotta find the truth and when you find that truth don’t budge, until the truth you found begins to change, and it does”.
He began with Wolves at the Door, a new track off Strange Negotiations, and continued to play two of my other favorites from the album, Virginia and Won’t Let Go. If any of you have heard Won’t Let Go, do you agree that it just absolutely ruins you? Holy shit. He also played his Vic Chesnutt Cover “Flirted With You All My Life” it just ruined everyone. The only unfortunate thing about last night was two guys sitting next to me who literally talked over him the whole night and just completely blew it. We sent over ample “shhhs” to little avail. Bazan was kind enough to give everyone that came a show poster, continuing his reign in my mind as coolest dude ever.
Please, if you ever listen to anything I write on hear, trust me when I tell you that you need this album. PRE-ORDER it here.
David Bazan (Vic Chesnutt Cover)- Flirted With You All My Life