I went to see Pedro the Lion last night at the Black Cat. Talk about lack of pretension. Lead Lion David Bazan was out with the roadies setting up equipment for the band that opened for him. He seemed so unassuming and normal; it was scary. Bazan is now a married man with a child, thinning hair, a noticeable belly, and a quasi-truck-driver/logger appearance. But his sad, morose, sincere lead vocals had many in the crowd dropping their jaws. His songwriting frequently hit so close to home, that I came away learning things about myself. He told me things about myself that I was unaware of.
I started the night about five or six rows back, and by the end of the set, I was front and center and could not have been closer. Bazan looked over the audience — he sort of squinted and occasionally twitched his left eye as if he were using it to concentrate on a chord or a lyric. The band was competent but Bazan misplayed a couple of chords here and there, and there was infrequent improvisation. No frills, no gimmicks, no look-at-me guitar solos or dancing around. I guess Pedro the Lion can be considered a Christian Elliott Smith, but with an edge.
After the show (after I tried unsuccessfully to procure the set-list), I talked with Bazan’s sister, Rochelle, who was selling Pedro the Lion merchandise in the back. She told me Bazan uses a lot of fiction (parables, if you will) to get messages across in songs. I asked her about David’s like or dislike of the word Christian; she told me he struggles with the word, and its implications. Some media outlets have tried to give the word a negative connotation. The media promotes the small percentage of Christians who are controversial or hypocritical, or focuses on the sin(s) of a particular Christian, as if the failings of one person discredit a belief. What was I talking about? Oh yes, the enigmatic band/persona Pedro the Lion. An acquired taste, but I strongly recommend it. [ more concert reviews ]