In 1998, when I was a freshman in college, a friend lent me Pedro the Lion’s It’s Hard to Find a Friend. Frontman David Bazan has been one of my favorite artists ever since.
Pedro the Lion disbanded in 2005 but eventually Bazan found a new voice as a solo act, releasing Curse Your Branches in 2009 and actively touring ever since.
I’ve seen Bazan play some of Chicago’s best venues, including Metro and, my favorite, Lincoln Hall. But lately he’s been doing something new, eschewing tradition venues for the living rooms of fans. Driving solo across the US and Canada, from cities to small towns with just his acoustic and a small box of merch, Bazan is bringing a new level of intimacy to already highly personal shows.
Last night, Bazan played one of these living room shows in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, the next town over from my house in Wheaton.
Glen Ellyn isn’t exactly a rock’n’roll town. It’s a pretty frickin’ rich place to live. Restored Victorians with Mercedes parked in the driveways, gardeners and housekeepers, etc. Usually John and I go there to walk around and gawk at the nice houses. So it felt a bit confusing coming here to see Bazan, the artist I’ve loved since I was a college-aged emo kid.
Now here he was, right in the middle of my thirty-something suburban life. The owners of Blackberry Market closed their doors to the public for night so Bazan could play. On a workday, about month ago, I sat in this very same coffee shop, annoyed by the scads of rich stay-at-home moms in Lululemon ignoring their unruly toddlers.
Last night, however, I sat among 50 other superfans who sat in rapt silence for Bazan’s hour-long set. Alternating between songs and Q&A sessions, Bazan filled the small space with the sound of his awesome voice and haunting songs. You could feel the mutual love in the air.
I contemplating kidnapping him, like how Kristen Wiig kidnapped Fred and Carrie in Portlandia. Instead, I settled for a photo and a hopefully not too sappy expression of my long-time appreciation.