If you’re looking for the most unassuming return to the stage of 2017, look no further than Bazan.
Two songs in to the second night of his three-night residency at Mississippi Studios, David Bazan asked the audience a polite and unexpected question. “Does anyone need anything to be different right now?” In the mouth of most other artists this might seem like a sarcastic question, but for Bazan, it felt sincere. He understands what people see in his band, or at least can see the twinkles in their eyes when they’re singing along to his music. He knows that he was there just as much for us as he was there for him, and this question was a gentle acknowledgement.
Something in the air felt different at the second night of Pedro the Lion’s official return. It was packed, but it lacked the frenetic energy that comes with massively sold-out shows. This isn’t a complaint, mind you; the feeling in the air wasn’t so much reverence as it was patient joy, with everyone in the crowd prepared to hear just about any song the band would play. He’d chat in between songs, and even opened the floor for question a couple times. The first question? “Why did you stop doing Pedro?” As it turns out, the way the band made music began to take its toll on Bazan, and this all coincided with losing the roots of his Christian beliefs. The previous night, when asked why he came back, he joked that it was because Pedro the Lion shows sell three times better than one booked as just Bazan. “People would see ‘Dave Bazan’ on the menu and they say, is it meat and potatoes? Is it a wacky-ass salad?” he joked, before labelling this band a “meat and potatoes” band.
Bazan is a kind charmer onstage, which makes it easier to overlook the patches of rust that linger around the edges. This is completely expected, as we were watching the second true show the band had played since 2006. You could hear crackles and strains during openers “Slow and Steady Wins the Race” and “Indian Summer,” as he worked to get his voice back in the swing of things. However, once he shook away the persistent dust, something magical happened: he seemed cheerful. Pedro the Lion have long been a perennially loved band by indie rock loving sadsacks, but even songs like “Second Best,” once loved for being melancholic, came out of 2017’s Bazan in a way that makes his former sorrows feel almost uplifted.
If you’re looking for the most unassuming return to the stage of 2017, look no further than Bazan. He’ll be embarking on a massive tour in the coming year, and it appears he’s even locked in an actual backing band rather than a revolving cast of characters. Bazan’s had his fair share of inner demons over the year, and it’s heartening to see him return to this well – if nothing else, it means he’s in a good enough place to sing these songs under this banner again.