Dear Mr. Bazan,
I wanted to come to your show because I just can’t make up my mind about you. Sometimes I love you, sometimes I find you grating and self-indulgent. But last night I realized that in the face of historic acts like Acid Mothers Temple and Bomb Squad, and after getting Xiu Xiu under my skin, and having had my fancy tickled with Dinosaur Feathers, I couldn’t help but ask… Who cares what I think about David Bazan? What will I write that is more important than standing in front of the Shocklee brothers, covered with sweat, hands on the ceiling, knees to the chest…?
I went everywhere last night. I did everything. Some things I did for 2 minutes (Headlights), some things i did for 2 hours (Bomb Squad – hey THEY did it for 2 hours, what am I gonna do, ask them to stop???). Some things I did with my entire brain (Acid Mothers Temple) and some things I did with only a fleeting portion of my brain, for a fleeting moment is all it takes to ask ones self: Who Cares?
I caught Poison Control Center for a couple of songs. It was 9:00. They were bashing their guitars. I needed it, it got me pumped. I’ll forget it by Monday.
I went to the Sanctuary and saw Monadnoc play the same songs he’s been playing in this town over and over again for the last few weeks. I’ll forget it as soon as possible. (If anyone has footage of Brooks Strause’s set, however, please get at me – I was really sorry to miss him)
I went to the Blue Moose and it was like I picked up a rock with a bunch of maggots underneath. I took a spoon, dipped it in the mud, ate it, said “hell yeah,” and walked out the door.
I went to the Mill and saw Caroline Smith’s Good Night Sleeps smile awkwardly for the packed house, and humbly thank them as indie kids will. I left.
I went to the Yacht Club and tried to see what kind of time I had before Bomb Squad, but then I couldn’t leave because Database was fucking cool, and the only thing going at the moment that could keep up with my brain. It couldn’t for long, I stepped down to Gabe’s and fell into a 10 minute venus fly trap of Acid Mothers shred.
My teeth reinserted, my jaw reattached, I returned to the Mill. Headlights were playing something that was apparently good because the bar remained packed with attentive listeners. Their strumming was utterly imperceptible to me. I literally could not hear it. I saw their instruments, and there were several people on the stage. But I couldn’t hear a single sound. It was to steal a metaphor from Thom Yorke, nothing but the sound of an old refrigerator humming.
On the other hand. . . Rene Hell.
Acid Mothers Temple.
I’m sorry Mr. Bazan, but knowing bands like these are out there, or out here this week, makes it hard to take an interest in you, and I’m usually the guy that’s into everything. I’m a fairly curious person musically, but when I thought about going back to the Mill to see what Bazan might be bringing, I felt this dread. This premonition of boredom. This fear of stumbling into my own 10th grade poetry journal. I didn’t imagine that any questions would be answered, or raised.
I thought about what Hank Shocklee said at the lecture, about “recording everything.” Recording ALWAYS. Never recording “for an album.” Never taking a progression and repeating it complacently. But rather compiling sounds like an audio fiend, taking them to the edge and pushing them over. Stretching your meta to the max, then going farther. Further. Frankly Mr Bazan, I didn’t think you had it in you.
I’m afraid this week I might have turned irrevocably brutal. If you were at any of the shows I listed, you know that Headlights, David Bazan, Cave Singers, and all the other agreeable shit out there just does not matter. Listen to it. Enjoy it. Let it take your mind off whatever you want to take your mind off. But it doesn’t matter. I didn’t make it to see David Bazan, my assignment, at the Mill last night because I didn’t care. It wasn’t big enough. Was I wrong? Feel free to let me know what I missed. I promise I’ll at least pretend to care about your opinion.
Unless I’m busy, which I am a lot right now because I’ve got Bomb Squad fever and all I want to do is work. Work until it’s right. Work until something explodes. David Bazan, above all I’m sorry that I’m saying these things never having seen you play – it’s obviously completely unfair. Keep working, then work some more. Convince me that I shouldn’t miss your show next time, and I won’t.
This goes for all the rest of you: As of this moment in Iowa City history, the bar is raised.
Please bring it.