Last Thursday night at Rough Trade (64 N 9th St) opened with Michael Nau performing to a packed room. Nau’s rich warm tones gave a welcoming feel to the cold November night. Previously the frontman for Page France and Cotton Jones, Nau’s style is relaxing with a rock beat that enables the listener to truly feel like being on a sort of vacation. It’s evident that Nau writes music purely because he enjoys doing so, that he is naturally moved to write it. This puts a heartwarming personal stamp on his songs, everpresent during his performance.
This (sort of) escapism journey continued with David Bazan as he zoomed into giving an other worldly performance. While Bazan and his band unleashed a more thunderous sound than Nau, Bazan remained connected to his spirit. When he often closed his eyes onstage, you could really feel that presence—and that let his talent take over the stage, unobstructed. It’s not always easy to let others into a personal inner world, but Bazan was able to succeed at this. The audience was transported straight into his inner world and feelings.
A few times throughout the night, Bazan spoke to the audience, awakening everyone to the un-soothing and anxiety-provoking mess that is our current political reality. Bazan was self-aware enough to note that he could go on talking about it for hours, but wanted to play music instead. It was as if he knew that music would not just soothe his fans, but his own soul as well. As he felt better singing than searching for some sort of uplifting conversation, Bazan mostly played songs back to back. This performance style was a nice change of pace from most indie groups who want to connect with the audience between each song. Neither style is wrong, but it showed his deep-rooted confidence; and that he feels deeply through his music and community. He played several Pedro The Lion songs and admitted that there would be more albums under that name, though the project had never quite formed in the way he had imagined. Bazan continued paying respects to his own past by playing a Headphones song, Gas And Matches. Being that the second half of his set was more emotionally raw than the first, most of us in the room ended up going home with a warm heart and a soothed soul.