Last Night: David Bazan, Say Hi at Dan's Silverleaf

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David Bazan, Say Hi
Dan's Silverleaf, Denton
October 8, 2009

Better Than: trying to drive home in the rain.

Even before the storm rolled in and David Bazan finally lumbered on stage at Dan's Silverleaf, last night's elbow-to-elbow capacity crowd had to know that it was in for an unforgettable night. After all, for this tour, a post-Pedro the Lion Bazan was going to once again be backed by a full band.

I overheard that Dan's has pre-sold 150 tickets, and that people were showing up from as far away as Oklahoma for the performance. So, no surprise, the place was packed before and during Say Hi's opening set--but as soon as Bazan started his set, the patio cleared too, and, no exaggeration, I've never seen people pack in so sardine-like at Dan's.

Ask around if you think I'm exaggerating.

For his part, Bazan wowed the crowd, playing a well-picked selection from across his musical career. And though the show would have been a memorable one even without the storm, I doubt that anyone who caught it will ever forget the haunting solo performance of Headphones' "I Never Wanted You" as buckets of rain cascaded from the patio of Dan's. See, the brewing rain storm outside had finally arrived at this point, providing a fine backdrop to kick off Bazan's encore.

I'm sure it didn't hurt that so many area musicians (Read: long-time-Bazan-fans) were in the crowd.

At the start of the set, with lightening just starting to flash in the distance, Bazan trudged to the stage. After taking a few minutes to situate, he and his partially Say Hi-comprised backing band kicked of their set with "Hard to Be" the first track on Curse Your Branches. The crowd sang along to songs like "Please Baby Please" and shouted along to "Bless This Mess. " "How I Remember," off Fewer Moving Parts, seemed to draw the largest cheers.

In typical Bazan fashion, he paused between several songs to take questions from the crowd--by far the least serious and most memorable of which was when one fan shouted out, "Why are you such a motherfucking  badass?"

Bazan paused. "Put on thirty pounds," he said, "and it'll put things in perspective."

It was great to see Bazan's subdued energy released on some of the rockier band-backed songs. But, Bazan's thunderstorm-backed encore though had to be the most memorable moment of the night, as he returned to the stage alone to treat the audience to "I Never Wanted You" followed by "Harmless Sparks."

Seattle's Say Hi opened the night, starting its set at about 10:30 p.m. By that point, the line of showgoers waiting to get inside had dwindled from more than 40 to less than 20 people. Even three songs into its set, Say Hi jeeringly apologized to the dozen or so people still waiting outside. But, fortunately for those still waiting in the street, it hadn't started raining yet. Inside, the crowd was notably stiff, but then again, they were packed in pretty tight and it was kinda muggy inside Dan's. However, one handful of backpack-clad guys near the main bar were dancing and clapping along to every song Say Hi played.

 "I like you guys over there," Say Hi's Eric Elbogen said, calling the dancers out. A song or two later he added that "Texas is the first state" the band had played in on this tour that "had rhythm."

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
In the days before Amazon, I had to buy the Whole EP at a Christian bookstore in Irving because it was the only record store I could find that carried it.

Random Note: A drunk guy accidentally elbowed my girl friend in the nose. She forgives you.

By The Way: As Bazan took a sip from a glass of red wine passed to him from the audience, it was hard to not flash back to the now legendary image of him in days past swigging from a milk jug filled with vodka. The stemless glass of wine is a better look for Bazan...

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