David Bazan / Cowboy Indian Bear at The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS 11/5/11
I thought I could write this review before ever seeing the show. Although I wasn’t entirely wrong in that assessment; many things from the Bazan show on November 5th in Lawrence were surprising. The great thing about concerts is the mystery and the unknown of the setlist for me. Other factors are completely unpredictable like the crowd and the sound. So many things are to be taken into account when evaluating a show, you never know what you are going to get.
One big thing is the opening band. This time Bazan had no other band traveling with him so it was up to a local band to Lawrence, Kansas; Cowboy Indian Bear. Cowboy Indian Bear immidiately showed they were no standard band when the first song featured two basses and no guitar. The next song flipped and had two guitars and no bass followed by the third song featuring two drums instead. Their final number of the night would even incorporated three of the four band members playing drums.
The band was surprisingly tight, they had crafted their music well. The lead singing duties were split between two separate members giving the band extra versatility. One vocalist was pretty straight forward in his singing while the other opted for a quite Yim Yames type of singing. The band was very beat driven and served up a nice 40 minute set to a very supportive local crowd.
David Bazan would approach the stage next to battle a sound system that I don’t think he was in sync with all night. Not that the music suffered much from it but sometimes it just seems like the band can’t get the exact sound that they want.
My last Bazan show was on June 27th at the Record Bar in Kansas City so I didn’t expect a lot of changes in just over 4 months from that show. His record Strange Negotiations had just been released the first time so I expected a heavy dose of it and got it with 8 selections from it. The Bottleneck show wouldn’t be a lot different with 7 tracks being played from the new record.
Bazan’s band blasted into possibly his most rocking song of his career with Pedro The Lion’s “Second Best” right away. I feel it is always good to set the tone of the show with the first song and this song made no doubts about what his straight-forward three piece band was going to do. The shocking part of the first part of the show was the versatility of it however. The band would play songs from 7 different records before ever doubling up on any album twice. After finally going to the same well twice by playing both “Of Up And Coming Monarchs” and “Big Trucks” from Pedro The Lion’s Its Hard To Find A Friend, they mixed in a great cover. The cover was “Climb That Hill” a deep cut from Tom Petty’s 1996 album She’s The One. It was a shocking song to see a band pull out but fit David Bazan very well.
Versatility may have been the goal in the first half of the 19 song set but the second half would focus on the new album Strange Negotiations. At one point 6 of 8 songs were selections from the record. In this stretch was the surprising popular sing-along “Virginia.” A good song but one I though would evaporate from the setlists eventually but after hearing the crowd sing along and their reaction to it I think it is one of the more popular selections from the album. The highlight of the show may have come after “Virginia” when Bazan worked through “Won’t Let Go” and “Don’t Change” also from Strange Negotiations.
The evening would end with a very cool promotion where a name was drawn for a lifetime pass to any Bazan show. They are doing this for each show of this tour. After the drawing Bazan made said they had one song left and at one of his shows that is usually true, he doesn’t play the encore game. The closer was “Criticism as Inspiration” off the hard to find The Only Reason I Feel Secure EP. Closing with a deep cut from an EP was a fitting way to end a show where Bazan would touch on so much of his recorded catalog.
David Bazan at The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS 11/5/11 setlist:
- Second Best (Pedro The Lion)
- Wolves At The Door
- Bless This Mess
- How I Remember
- I Do (Pedro The Lion)
- Of Up And Coming Monarchs (Pedro The Lion)
- Gas & Matches (Headphones)
- Big Trucks (Pedro The Lion)
- Climb That Hill (Tom Petty Cover)
- Bearing Witness
- Won’t Let Go
- Don’t Change
- Cold Beer & Cigarettes
- Eating Paper
- Magazine (Pedro The Lion)
- Strange Negotiations
- Criticism As Inspiration (Pedro The Lion)