Davad Bazan is my favorite vocalist from any band I’ve ever heard. There, I said it, and I’m not at all worried that I’ve painted myself into a corner. I’ve heard a lot, but his vocal range, distinct sound, and cut-to-the-core lyrics resonate deeper within me than anything I’ve heard thus far in my musical history. Having said this, I threw a mental party when I saw he would be playing Control from his Pedro the Lion days in its entirety at the Troubadour this month, but wasn’t even slightly surprised to see the show quickly sell out.
After the opening performance by sibling duo Stagnant Pools, Bazan and supporting tour members Andy Fits and Alex Westcoat took to the stage to do their own final sound check. The audience kept quiet in anticipation, but with the opening notes of “Options” (reflective of Control‘s opening track), each onlooker was right on point with head-nodding and silent lip-syncing. I have to give credit to the crowd — this was a true following of people who knew word-for-word every song performed.
I was curious to see how the performance would play out. I knew better than to think that Bazan would just play Control from start to finish, but I was elated to hear him move beyond Pedro the Lion songs. The band branched out with songs such as “Gas and Matches” from his project Headphones as well as tracks pulled from his solo material. From within Pedro the Lion’s catalog, Bazan wasn’t restricted to Control; “When They Really Get to Know You, They Will Run” from It’s Hard to Find a Friend elicited significant applause from the audience (as well as from myself).
Despite the fact that the venue was packed to the brim just for them, the band kept a refreshingly humble demeanor. They not only took the time to talk to the audience, but also honored and answered questions from the crowd. From his feelings about Spotify to his initial thought process behind Control, Bazan honored a forum-like open discussion between songs. With such an extensive history of consistently great music, we all listened to anything he had to say earnestly. There was no chatter between songs (again, credit to the crowd); there was simply patience and involvement, which led to a greater appreciation of the displayed talent.
The highlight of the performance was a tie between Pedro the Lion’s “Magazine,” with the percussion culminating with the chorus, and Bazan’s own “Eating Paper” from Strange Negotiations, which, despite my reservations, was equally beautiful without the keys present in the album recording. Though I did hope to hear “Wolves at the Door,” the performance was flawlessly executed, each song evoking the deepest human emotions and experiences, and with songs such as “Second Best,” provocative even.
“You know we don’t fuck with encores,” Bazan stated, and after the last song, the room quickly emptied into the even smaller merch area and sidewalk, with people seeking relief from the overly concentrated space. Overall, Bazan’s performance was as consistent as his last albums, his talent translates equally across recorded and live platforms, and my initial statement about him being my favorite vocalist remains true and unchallenged.
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