David Bazan @ Big Cartel 07.23

Posted July 29, 2013 in

David Bazan at Big Cartel. Photo Courtesy Big Cartel
I've seen shows in a variety of different venues, and I'm finding that over time, I am more likely to be drawn to a smaller house show over seeing a band perform on a huge stage. Limiting the space to a single room allows the acoustics to reach the audience in a unique way, allowing the listeners to engage with musicians in a laid back environment that a larger venue can’t really accommodate. Living room shows are limited, though, mostly to local acts, which are awesome, but it’s cool to have some out-of-towners pay a visit in this type of setting. Seeing someone I've admired from afar in such a cozy setting came welcome, as Tuesday night I found myself in a room with David Bazan no more than 15 feet away, sharing the space with around 50 people for his Living Room Tour at The Big Cartel. The weather was cooperative enough to keep the warehouse window open, and while the sounds of car alarms and conversations in the parking lot down the street were audible enough to distract me at moments, Bazan played over them with grace and paid it no mind, drawing my focus back to his unrestrained voice on that summer night.

The audience, for the most part, was hushed throughout the entirety of his performance, which made it a little awkward at first during the transitions between songs. Fortunately, that was quickly broken once Bazan started taking questions after playing a couple of songs. A lot of the audience seemed to be long-time fans of Bazan, pulling questions that referenced bits from his entire repertoire. What stuck out to me most was his humility in answering the questions, and this humility is transparent through the lyrics of his songs. When asked if he was exhausted or encouraged by the amount of people who relate to his music, he admitted to being lifted by the people who can feel sympathy through song.

As Bazan’s worldviews have transitioned from identifying as an Evangelical Christian to aligning more with agnosticism, fluidity and adaptability are things that he has learned along the way. Bazan admitted to treating his melodies, lyrics and bridges as a fluid medium with which he works, allowing him to appropriately maneuver through his songs in the present, while still pulling from past projects. His set list appropriately incorporated songs from Pedro the Lion and Headphones, along with his recent solo albums, giving a pretty balanced weight to his work. As he sang in “The Fleecing” (originally performed by Pedro the Lion), “I can't say it like I sing it./ And I can't sing it like I think it.” As I have moved away from the Christian world myself, the acceptance of conversion resonated, and it’s comforting to see a musician who will openly sing about conflicting thoughts of salvation or sincerity without apology. This was especially apparent during his performance of “Hard to Be” and “Wolves at the Door,” both products of his solo work, which touch on these conflicting thoughts. In addition to his raw honesty is paired a voice that came across with equal parts strength and softness, which as a solo performer filled the atmosphere, creating a communion out of the space.

You can keep on the lookout for future living room shows such as this by liking Big Cartel on Facebook. Make sure to grab your tickets early, as the limited space will likely fill fast.
David Bazan at Big Cartel. Photo Courtesy Big Cartel David Bazan at Big Cartel. Photo Courtesy Big Cartel David Bazan at Big Cartel. Photo Courtesy Big Cartel