Concert Review: David Bazan in Kansas City, MO 6/3/11 at the Record Bar

So David Bazan made his way through Kansas City supporting his very solid new disc Strange Negotiations on Friday. The June 3, 2011 show would rely heavily on the new record and of course some older Pedro The Lion material.

I first saw Bazan live on a solo electric tour soon after his first solo release, the Fewer Moving Parts EP. It was a great show and I got a chance to talk to Mr. Bazan and quickly pegged him to be one of the nicest and easiest to talk to guys to catch on tour. Shamefully, I didn’t catch him on his “Curse Your Branches” tour so this was the first time I had seen him since.

David Bazan's Curse Your Branches cd sleeve autographed

David Bazan's Curse Your Branches cd sleeve I got signed after the show. I got a chance to briefly talk with David and thank him for coming to Kansas City when I got it signed.

I hadn’t listened to much of his music the first time I attended a show of his so this would be a very different experience. It was a very full show, probably not a sell out but definitely not far from it. It was hot, let me rephrase that, it was fucking scorching in the Record Bar. What the hell Record Bar? Was your A/C broken? Are fans too expensive? It was nearly unbearable. Another note: charging $4 for a bottle of domestic beer is a good way to keep your bartenders from being tipped. But I digress…

So it was shoulder to shoulder for much of the show and really, really hot with now air movement whatsoever. The Soft Reeds from the Kansas City area(I think) were on first and were followed by Bazan’s opener Cotton Jones.

Cotton Jones had a nice sound. A big band of six member but impressively allowed each other to play instead of trying to play over each other which I have seen many bands do. Cotton Jones can most easily be described as “New Morning” era Bob Dylan. Soft, deep vocals accompanied by acoustic guitar, some but not too much electric guitar, drums, bass, accordion/xylophone and of course trumpet/tuba. The mix was very good for Cotton Jones, nice relaxing music with good lyrics. If the band had a fault it would be that many of their songs were the same mid-tempo, but every song seemed to have something to set it off from the others so I thought it worked well.

David Bazan and his 3 man band took the stage at 11:20 and played until 12:40 as planned. The setlist as I mentioned focused on the Strange Negotiations record. I have no problem with a band trying to sell their latest record when they are trying to make a living at this business as Bazan is. If I go see the Rolling Stones it is a different story, can the new crap and play Tumbling Dice, you’ve already made your money.

That being said, I missed all 3 of the songs I really would have liked to have heard Bazan play. I am a big “Curse Your Branches” fan and wanted to hear both “Hard To Be” and “Please Baby Please” off that record but they didn’t make the setlist in Kansas City. I also would have liked to have heard a song from David Bazan’s Headphones side project called “Never Wanted You” that is fantastic but missed it as well. These are minor points because it was a good show and I still got to hear a lot of good music.

The setlist for David Bazan at the Record Bar in Kansas City, MO on 6/3/11 is as follows:

I Don’t know about the second to last song, everything else is was definitely played and in this order.

  • Wolves at the Door
  • How I Remember
  • Level With Yourself
  • Bless This Mess
  • People
  • Up And Coming Monarchs
  • Virginia
  • Big Trucks
  • Transcontinental
  • Eating Paper
  • Magazine
  • Cold Beer & Cigarettes
  • Bearing Witness
  • Won’t Let Go
  • Don’t Change
  • ?When They Really Get To Know You They Will Run?
  • Strange Negotiations

Of the 17 songs played, 8 appear on “Strange Negotiations.” The record was officially released on May 24th so this is one of the very first shows supporting the record of which he played 8 of the 10 songs.

I don’t know if it was time constraints or the fact that is was hot as shit but Bazan made it clear that there would be no encore by waving his arms for the encore clapping to stop after the last song. The crowd definitely didn’t get cheated out of an encore though, he played his full allotted time. He may have even skipped the formality of leaving the stage for an encore and just played the songs strait through. In a venue like the Record Bar the band must exit the stage through the crowd which makes this much more difficult to do.

David Bazan always requests questions at his shows. This make for interesting stage banter and adds another dimension to his shows as well. On this night one fan would ask multiple question and not very good ones at that. It killed the Q&A portion of the show a little in my opinion. I still love that David Bazan elects to do this at shows. Highlights of Bazan’s set for me were probably “Eating Paper” a song on the new record that has some tasty guitar playing on it. “Cold Beer and Cigarettes” was good to hear as well. The undoubtable highlight however would have to be the juiced up version of “How I Remember” from the “Fewer Moving Parts” EP.

I hope Bazan makes his way back through in Lawrence or Omaha later this year, If you ever get a chance, go see him perform. He has a lot to say and is a great performer.

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