David Bazan - Strange Negotiations (live in my living room)
Over 24 hours removed from this performance, from that night, and I’m still struggling to come up with the appropriate words to describe just how special it was. That night I simply tweeted: “Perfect.” I suppose that’s all that really needs to be said.
There are some common events that people traditionally hold as mile markers on their path through life: the day of their wedding, the births of children, the death of parents and other loved ones, etc. I’ve yet to experience any of those (and in the former two cases, I’m not optimistic that I ever will), and so the night of September 16, 2011 will certainly stand as one of the most important, meaningful, memorable, and powerful of my life.
As I wrote that morning, David Bazan’s music and words speak to me on a level that is fundamentally deeper than any other person. To have him in my home was truly an honor and a privilege, yet, no matter how many times I thanked him for stopping by and performing, he insisted that I was the one who deserved to be thanked, as I was the one who graciously provided him with a venue in which he could play. Without hosts like myself, he wouldn’t be able to financially support himself and his family by making these living room tours.
The performance itself was excellent. It was everything I’ve come to expect from these types of shows: moving, emotional, intimate, raw, imperfect, inviting, and cathartic. He played songs spanning the length of his career. He conversed with us through his traditional between-songs question: “Does anyone have a question at this point in the show?” and he answered all questions earnestly and patiently.
We watched him struggle to perform the fingerstyle contrapuntal breakdown of “Slow And Steady Wins The Race” - because he had started the song with the capo on the wrong fret. I could see the gears grinding in his head as he worked out the conversion and within seconds he had locked in the change and he performed the second half without dropping a single note. He shared with us that - just that afternoon - he had finally learned how to correctly play the ‘boom-chicka’ section of “Please, Baby, Please” after listening to Ed Helms playing banjo on WTF with Mark Maron, as well as a performance by Nick Lowe - we were the first audience to ever hear him perform it the way he always intended it to be played.
Following the set he passed out free tour posters to all attendees and spent about 90 minutes hanging out with everyone in my kitchen. We had guests from Toronto, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, DC, and Raleigh, among others, all of whom were polite, courteous, and respectful of my house and each other. While casually chatting in the kitchen, Nicky asked him how he was showering on this tour, as he is literally living in his van. He gave his answer and she and I both insisted that he take a shower at my place before he hit the road - he paused, considered the offer, and declined. 45 minutes later, as the last of the crowd had dispersed, she extended the offer once more - he paused, considered the offer, and accepted. David Bazan took a shower in my house. After the fact he admitted that he now felt like a million bucks and he didn’t know what he was thinking when he initially declined.
Exiting the bathroom and walking back towards the living room, he passed my music room, into which he stuck his head and paused for a moment. Someone commented: “Pretty impressive, isn’t it?” and he replied with a somewhat impressed chuckle “Yeah, man!” Over the course of the next 20 minutes, he and I talked shop about my guitars, his guitars, our tastes, and techniques. Much of that conversation was captured on video - a video that I’ll surely cherish for a long time to come. It was the perfect way to end the evening. He gathered the rest of his things, said his goodbyes to the few friends that remained, and made his humble exit.