David Bazan is feeling it. He’s feeling being in a band again with some of his compadres. He’s feeling letting loose and rocking out on stage. And he’s feeling Pedro The Lion again. And it was all on display at The EARL on Thursday, November 16th.
I’ve personally only seen David Bazan live at house shows a few times, which has been his primary means of touring the last few years. The house shows are an experience themselves, David playing to an intimate crowd with barebones gear, truly special affairs every time that shows off Bazan’s catalog of songs. And of course lots of talking, crowd interacting Q&As that could cover literally any subject. These shows are always entertaining and a chance to really feel and understand Bazan’s music.
But this night was much different than those past house shows that I’ve seen. And I gotta say, I sure do love it. David Bazan was at my favorite rock club in Atlanta, The EARL in EAV. This time he brought with him Erik Walters on guitar and Sean Lane on drums, announcing to the crowd that they planned to play some rock ‘n’ roll music tonight, and not do much talking either.
Rock ‘n’ roll it was! Touring behind Bazan’s 2017 solo album Care, the band wowed the crowd with choice cuts off the album including the title track, “Up All Night”, “The Ballad of Pedro Y Blanco” and more. These tracks live with the three piece band were heavier on this night, with a sprawling post punk sound that had the energy in the room on high, and showed David Bazan at his best.
Of course at this point in his career, and a room full of avid fans who are used to the crowd interaction from Bazan, despite his decree that there wouldn’t be much talking, Bazan, as he usually does, opened up the floor for a couple of Q&A sessions that always brings some interesting quips. Some interesting hot takes included Bazan talking about his love of Donald Glover’s hit show Atlanta, and his emotional hard on for the band Protomartyr.
David Bazan first made a name for himself in the late 90’s with his indie rock outfit, Pedro the Lion. In early October, Bazan announced that he was reuniting Pedro the Lion for the first time in over 10 years with 4 shows in December. Then recently on Facebook he announced via his David Bazan page, that all updates moving forward would be via his Pedro the Lion page. So of course the audience members at The EARL wanted to talk about this, and Bazan was more than happy to oblige. He spoke from the heart about the reason he got into music was to be in a band, not to travel the country alone like he has on the solo house tours. The comrade and everything that comes with it is what he signed up for. The house shows were a great way for Bazan to tour the country and well, not lose money. Minimal gear to take with him, and no additional band members (except maybe one person touring with him), made the costs a lot easier. His audience loved it. He would sell out nearly every date with longtime fans in a house of 40-50 people usually. It was a great set up. But now, as he announced at The EARL, he’s rethought that platform. Playing with a full band in rock clubs that hold many more people than a house, he can play fewer shows (he’s got a family with kids that he wants to be more involved with), and reach a wider audience. Plus, as he joked at The EARL, as soon as he puts the name Pedro the Lion on the show (no matter who he is actually playing with), then he is going to automatically get more money for that show. (Side note, I’m always amazed at how open and honest he is with his audiences about the music business and his thoughts on everything. This isn’t someone whining about the biz, just someone upfront and open about where he fits in. Refreshing.) With the reunion shows announced, David Bazan will be moving forward as Pedro the Lion, because that’s what’s in him, and boy there’s plenty of people excited about this news! David Bazan is Pedro the Lion.
While the majority of Bazan’s set at The EARL on this night came from Bazan’s solo material, fans were treated to some of the beloved Pedro songs including “Penetration”, “Bands With Managers” and more. And if this set at The EARL was any indication of what to expect in the future from Pedro, well, got damn, I’m on board! I’ve got a newfound love for rock ‘n’ roll David Bazan.
Opening the show was the amazing Michael Nau, touring behind his 2017 LP Some Twist and the follow up EP The Load, both hypnotic works of psychedelic folk pop. While those were recorded with a band, on this night Michael took to the stage solo with just his guitar, and his stunning vocals. Michael Nau’s set provided more of what the Bazan fans expect from the house shows – an intimate look at Nau’s songs. You may be familiar with Michael Nau from his previous work as Cotton Jones, which not coincidentally, Bazan has opened up for Cotton Jones at The EARL years ago. Nau’s work on this night showed a songwriter able to stand out on his own though – quieting and mesmerizing the packed out crowd. Of course, a major highlight for the audience was when Nau was joined onstage for his final song by Bazan on bass, as the combo played his stellar single “Light That Ever”.
Check out Mike Gerry’s photos from the show below, along with Bazan’s setlist:
David Bazan Setlist:
How I Remember
Up All Night
When They Really
Wolves At The Door
Gas & Matches
Trouble With Boys
The Ballad of Pedro Y Blanco
Of Up And Coming Monarchs
Bands With Managers