I must admit that I've been waiting for this show for quite
some time, even though I can't really listen to Pedro the Lion
anymore. This is entirely due to personal history, and I have
found that it does not apply to the new record, which is a very
good album. Past events aside, I've always liked their music.
On the other hand, I've never completely gotten Damion Jurado's
music. In fact, it normally puts me directly to sleep. The new
record, with (Pedro leader) David Bazan producing, really rocks.
Seeing as how both artists helped produce each other's latest
releases, I was excited to see them on tour together. The El
Rey is also one of my favourite venues -- always with superb
sound and plenty of space.
As I arrived I could hear T.W. Walsh starting his set to a
half capacity crowd. The music was good . . . well, actually
very close to what I was expecting from the two headliners.
The vocals, however, left much to be desired. The singer was
consistently under pitch, which caused a chain reaction within
the band that left me having trouble seeing how they kept playing.
The sound also was not quite right, with vocals too high and
way too much bass drum. I was in store for a long night of pounding,
I could tell already.
Damion Jurado came on stage next, and I was actually shocked.
I've never seen him before so his appearance really through
me off. He's an offensive lineman with indie rock sensibilities,
I swear! His music, for those unfamiliar, is somewhere etween
the indie-emo stylings of onelinedrawing or Pedro the Lion,
but with the assertiveness of what I call "Lumberjack Rock"
(aka Creed, Puddle of Mudd, etc.). The best parts from both,
I promise! Jurado's band was well prepared as they played predominantly
new songs and really created a lively feel for the room. Jurado
took questions and then bantered with the crowd. It was great
and yes, I was bouncing to the tunes.
Pedro the Lion took the stage rather quickly, which made sense
considering that Pedro and Jurado were sharing half of the backing
band: the bassist and lead guitarist were the same for both
sets. David Bazan (who I always want to call Pedro), quickly
announced that he may play one or two old songs and that this
performance would consist mainly of the new songs. In fact,
they only played two songs that were not on the new record,
Control. The performance of the new songs went
well and sounded very close to the record. However, there seemed
to be less spark in their performance than I would have liked.
Pedro the Lion records always seemed to lack a certain energy,
and their live performance was much the same. Just a little
bit of action would have won me over, but the stage stayed relatively
dead throughout the show.
Overall the show was about an average night out. Damion Jurado
created some really good moments, but the rest of the performances
fell short of creating similar emotion in myself and in the
rest of the crowd. Even my friends, solid Pedro fans in their
own right, felt a bit sleepy toward the end of the performance.
I'd recommend seeing them live only if you are a fan and haven't
yet. Damion Jurado, however, I would recommend to anyone, as
his song writing and performances are fun and emotional.