David Bazan, best known as the guy behind Seattle, Washington 90’s band Pedro the Lion has been a lyrical hero of mine since I heard his mournful, intricate narratives as a depressive 20-something year old (over 10 years ago!). Specifically, I first heard “June 18, 1976” (a narrative about a young single mother who commits suicide by jumping off a building) on a mixtape an ex-boyfriend made me and the lyrics stopped me in my tracks like no other song has done since.
The first and only time I’ve seen Pedro the Lion was back in 2004 at the Horseshoe. Ten years ago! This show at the Mod Club was something special, something to behold. Bazan was backed by the Passenger String Quartet, with which he has recorded new versions of his solo songs and Pedro the Lion songs and released as a Volume 1 album (meaning there are more to come!).
So, as if the original tunes weren’t depressing enough, these new versions with strings are even more somber and haunting, if that’s possible. Particularly arresting are the string quartet-backed versions of “Priests & Paramedics” and “Bands With Managers” (in which Bazan interjects a line from “June 18, 1976”).
Juxtaposed by the sad mood of the songs, was Bazan’s jovial banter in between. He candidly took questions from the audience, joked around and delivered wry, hilarious anecdotes with a copious usage of expletives. Showing his easygoing nature, Bazan even joked around about the pronunciation of his last name. “’Bay-zin’ or ‘Buh-zahn,’ who cares how you pronounce it. You’re talking to somebody about music – you say ‘Bay-zin’ or ‘Buh-zahn,’ they’ll know what you mean. Bazan? Bummer tunes.”