Concert Review: David Bazan / Stagnant Pools at the Record Bar in Kansas City, MO 11/5/12

There were a lot of beards at the Record Bar. For an artist like David Bazan this isn’t uncommon. He is one of the most important voices of his generation and has a very relatable message for the twenty-something crowd. The thick-framed glasses, full beards and skinny jeans weren’t exclusive at the Kansas City David Bazan show but it was pretty close.

The “hipster” crowd would show up in droves to pay tribute to David Bazan. It is easy to see why. Bazan has a knack for catchy guitar licks and writing good hooks. He also is nearly unparalleled in his lyrical style. Being devout for much of his musical career he turned his back on the religion he had led his life by and has delivered haunting scriptures in song form about his transformation. The serious tone of his songs fits the hipster crowd though many of them are younger than Bazan himself.

The Record Bar may not have sold out but it had to be painfully close. The sweat dripping down my back and the disturbing feeling of each breath from the guy behind me were evidence of this. It was hot and uncomfortable, there was no place to hide as you could go all the way to the bar in the venue and not escape the tight quarters. This is what a show is supposed to be like right? A group of individuals packed in a small place all singing the same words and erupting in applause in unison is the pinnacle of a good concert sometimes. Still the Record Bar for the November 5th, 2012 show was uncomfortable.

The Stagnant Pools performing at The Record Bar in Kansas City, MO on 11/5/12.

The Stagnant Pools performing at The Record Bar in Kansas City, MO on 11/5/12.

Before David Bazan would power through yet another great performance the Indianapolis band Stagnant Pools took to the stage. The packed in crowd would be respectful to the band but not embrace them. The band’s music was brooding and docile and their low amount of enthusiasm matched. The best way to describe the Stagnant Pools is to compare them to Joy Division. The hugely popular cult band from the 1980’s were obvious heroes of the Indiana duo.

The band would be made of just a drummer and a guitarist/lead singer. The drummer impressed throughout the night. He gave the songs the only variance they would have. The drumming would be steady and loud throughout the set and sadly was easily the most entertaining part of the set. The singer kept the same monotone vocal styling not only throughout a whole song but would keep it consistent throughout the whole 40 minute group of songs. The guitar was noisy and distorted. The distortion would also be put on a loop so more droning guitar could be piled on top of it. Each song would end with the guitar and loop both ending giving you the relief you feel at that moment you pull earplugs out of your ears after running a chainsaw for about a half hour. The songs sounded very good at the core but any lyrics or interesting guitar licks were hidden by layers of distortion and loops.

David Bazan would waste no time to get on stage and start the task at hand. Bazan was playing the entire record from his former band Pedro The Lion Control. The record is now 10 years old and has become an important album of very good songs. The Control tour coincided with the release of all Pedro The Lion’s records being available on vinyl. Bazan would fitting split the Control record’s performance into two parts; side A and side B.

David Bazan performing at The Record Bar in Kansas City, MO on 11/5/12.

David Bazan performing at The Record Bar in Kansas City, MO on 11/5/12.

Side A would get hammered through highlighted by the dark divorce song “Options” followed by two of Bazan’s hardest rocking songs in “Rapture” and “Penetration.” After side A had been played the band of three fell into eight other songs before finishing the show with side B. The other songs with start with a song from Bazan’s other, other project Headphones in “Gas and Matches.” The three solo releases by Bazan would account for only four of the night’s 18 songs.

The always great “How I Remember” would be sandwiched by two songs from the newest release Strange Negotiations in “People” and the guitar heavy “Eating Paper.” David Bazan always inquires the crowd to ask him questions and they seemed uncharacteristically dull on this night. He would talk about recording Control and do some brief electioneering as the impending election was only a day away but the questions were bland on this night. Control would steal the focus of the show with huge crowd favorites like “Magazine” and “Second Best” both being toward the end of the show on side B. The night would end with David Bazan simply proclaiming “We don’t really believe in encores so… don’t sweat it.” He then played the finally from the record that was the focal point of the night “Rejoice” and would call it a night.

David Bazan setlist from the Record Bar in Kansas City, MO 11/5/12

  • Options
  • Rapture
  • Penetration
  • Indian Summer
  • Progress
  • Gas and Matches
  • The Fleecing
  • Transcontinental
  • Bless This Mess
  • People
  • How I Remember
  • Eating Paper
  • When They Really Get To Know You They Will Run
  • Magazine
  • Rehearsal
  • Second Best
  • Priests and Paramedics
  • Rejoice

 

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