Spoon, David Bazan, and All Smiles: Live, Nov. 8, 2007


10. Nov. 2007, 17:44

I had to see Spoon. I have listened to them quite a bit, and enjoyed them; but there was something more to this band that I wanted to explore, that I could only discover in a live show. This, I knew, from the "buzz" on LastFM and elsewhere, from the way so many fans and friends seemed to swoon over Spoon. My friend Nate, with Soft Targets for example, was very pumped for this show. So, when they were coming to play a local venue, called The Moon; I had to go!

Doing my pre-show research, I learned a lot more about David Bazan, as he was one of the supporting artists. Mr. Bazan had been the lead singer and driving force of Pedro the Lion. He WAS Pedro the Lion. I had a few tracks from that stage in his career, and really like them, but I take my pre-concert research seriously; as I get a lot of enjoyment out of being somewhat familiar with an artist in advance. And of course, it adds to the anticipation. So I found and started sampling his current stuff. He has a free track on LastFM, for example; one that sits well with most of us politically.

Then there was "All Smiles." I listened to some of their music, too, in advance; and it seemed nice.

But after the "research," I couldn't wait to see and hear David Bazan! And, the show being on a work night for me, I thought I would try to leave "early," hoping to catch at least most of Spoon. Well, let me say, this was a fantastic show!!! There was no way I could have left early.

However, I "confess" that I was disappointed in the opening artist, All Smiles. First, I didn't even know that's who it was, on stage, when I arrived: I thought All Smiles was a group, not a solo performer, from the album pic I had; so the soloist on stage was not someone I recognized. (I would recognize David Bazan.) And the performance seemed perhaps uninspired, or the emotional range limited, and the lyrics were undecipherable for me and my friend, standing off to the side. (I am a "lyrics person" as well as a music person, especially when the performance is a solo singer with acoustic guitar as this was.) It wasn't until I got home and looked at LastFM that I realized that I had, indeed, heard All Smiles live.

Ladies and gentlemen, David Bazan was out of this world! I cannot adequately convey what a fine artist he is, but suffice it to say that this gentleman, with acoustic guitar or electric guitar in hand, melts through the microphone and into his audience. The intellectual content of his music, his kind or forceful challenges, was bordering at times on the profound; and the emotional punch he added with his lyricism, his clear diction (readers of my other journals may recall how Jim Morrison studied diction, by observing Frank Sinatra!), and his pure "soul" had everyone, it seemed, enraptured.

As a "lyrics person," and being a little hard of hearing due to, oh, a few DECADES (ok SEVERAL decades) of live music (e.g., Hendrix and Doors at 16), I appreciate a singer who sings with good diction, especially of course in songs with good lyrics. I like to understand the lyrics. But for this show? David Bazan had us all understanding, understanding that he articulated because his songs were powerful, or because he knew we needed them, we need to feel and be empowered, and he needed to try to teach us something or help us see or understand what we knew. And he was and wants us to be courageous in our self-expressions about the larger culture and, indeed, its government.

This is not just my view. I looked around a number of times, and I could see the enraptured looks around me. At times, I know I felt a tear well up in my eyes during a song, and I sensed that in others, that many of us sensed it was an honor to be there, to be a part of that performance: It was NOT the lyrics that did that--it was the whole package. His emotions were out there. He strained, hard, to put them out there; so when his voice wasn't "pretty," and it wasn't, it was beautiful. Don't miss him if he comes your way.

Spoon? Don't miss Spoon either! What a great, live band! There is so much written about them that I won't try to add much here. Suffice it to say that they played their hearts out, and rocked and psychedelicized "all night long." They were true to studio quality with all the variation and inspiration of a live show by artists truly enjoying themselves. The buzz on Spoon is true.

I must add that the sound was fantastic, too. They sounded just great, with a very wide range, well balanced and mixed.

I ducked out to the lobby when I thought Spoon was close to finishing, to beat the mob and purchase David Bazan's latest CD Fewer Moving Parts, even though I already owned it digitally. I know artists benefit more when we buy their music at a show, and this one is packaged nicely and . . . with lyrics! :) (I also picked up Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.) David Bazan was out there in the lobby kindly doing his duty, and I got him to sign his CD for me. I spoke to him for a while, but stupid me did all the talking: He only had a minute, of course, and I just wanted to commend him, to thank him for what he was doing artistically.

Spoon, however, was just getting warmed up with encores! I, of course, had abandoned any idea of leaving early; so I went back in to watch some more. This time, I was at the rear of the crowd rather than at the front, with my trusty acoustically neutral earplugs at times. And it was fun seeing all the folks back there, party-dancing up a storm, grinning widely, have a lot of fun thanks to some real fun music!

In fact, I found the entire gig posted, song by song, for free download here.

On a more sober note, I must say that I looked around, especially when I was at the front, and was disappointed to see not one other person in my age group. I just don't know how that all happens, but I am sure there are a lot of reasons. My kids are grown, and I have flexibility in when I need to be at work. I love music a LOT, and always have. But, still: My contemporaries don't know Spoon or David Bazan, and it is too bad. Maybe if they did, especially the latter, the world would be in better shape than it is now. Along the same line, I must add--because I am such an extrovert I guess, and because I am speaking out more these days--that when you are one of the rare old folks (me? old?), some of the uninitiated "youngsters" seem to look at you like you are some kind of creep for diggin' "their" music or something. I picked up on a little of that at this show. Our "be afraid be very afraid" government and culture is perhaps a factor in that, too. Or maybe it is just the wide-scale alienation and group-identification combo.

In any event, I have met a lot of really nice music fans (including folks who have introduced themselves as knowing me from LastFM) at these gigs, and I am grateful to all of my LastFM friends too for being one reason I am so lucky in the music department!

Thu 8 Nov – Spoon, David Bazan, All Smiles

Comments? :)


  • jillianm

    Rolling Stone magazine or some other music rag needs your journalism, your reviews and your fabulous outlook...I think you're a very kind man Bill..and always enjoy a lil chat w. you now and again.. Warm regards, Jill Marie

    10. Nov. 2007, 21:27
  • iamthepinky

    i agree with the above comment - the world of music criticism needs you! your age and experience provide you with a unique perspective on today's music culture, certainly - but unlike many established music critics who look down on today's scene and culture with condescension and contempt, you have a fresh, open-minded perspective that a lot of people in all age groups could benefit from hearing. on a side note, i personally am one who's always preferred to hang out with the older crowd, be it with my much-older brother, my dad, or other musicians (hanging out with older musicians actually works to my benefit in a lot of ways!).

    11. Nov. 2007, 18:04
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