One of the best shows I’ve seen in the last several years was Jason Collette, Zeus and Bahamas (who was solo on that tour) on something they called the Bonfire Ball tour. The unique performance kept the three acts shuffling on and off stage, sometimes playing songs on their own but more often collaborating with one or both of the other two acts. It was a format that kept the show interesting, especially if, like me, you didn’t know a thing about Zeus or Bahamas. I went for Jason Collette, and I fell madly in love with Zeus, but I had kinda forgotten about Bahamas, until now. I saw a poster for the Bahamas show on State St, remembered how great that show was, and thought about going, once I found out Dietrich Gosser was opening my mind was made up.
Though I’ll admit, I almost changed it. The Onion called Bahamas, whose name is Afie Jurvanen and has spent time in a who’s who of Canadian bands, a perfect blend of M Ward and Jack Johnson. In my mind that meant trouble, as much as I adore Ward, I dislike Johnson’s music almost as much. What if it wasn’t a perfect blend? What if the Johnson overpowered the Ward? Well, at least I figured I would get to see Dietrich. The good news is that the Onion nailed it. Every time it seemed like maybe he was going to get a little too precious the song it would back off before it got into full Bubble Toe territory. And when the songs started good, they were great. I was completely sold after he played “OK Alright I’m Alive” with its terrific line, “Every time the phone rings, I run, every time George sings ‘here comes the sun.’” He was charming and engaging, and his assumption that many of us had never been to a show before as he explained how the encore worked was amusing (even if it was an act).
I’m not really sure what “Bahamas” actually refers to, if it’s him or his band, either way it is an odd moniker. His touring band was an interesting configuration. He sang and played guitar, the guy from the Weakerthans was on drums, and there were two girl backing singers in shiny shirts. In actuality the guy from the Weakerthans was on drums for most of the set. About halfway through something broke and he held up a bass pedal that didn’t look like right before retreating to the basement to repair it. However the show must go on, and Bahamas did two songs solo before the drummer returned triumphant, in his hand were two pedals, his and one that had been left behind by another band. It was his now. I’m not a fan of female lead singers, but backing singers on the other hand I think are pretty awesome, and his were especially good. For the encore the two of them stepped off mike to sing what sounded like a cautionary old folk tune. You could have heard a pin drop.
In fact that pin-drop silence had been there all night. The good sized crowd had been silent, respectful and appreciative during Gosser’s set, something I am not used to at the Frequency. Much of it was the same as his set at Mother Fool’s, the songs from his upcoming release in addition to older classics like “Curious Scar” and my all time favorite “From a Mercury Lynx.” He confessed later that he was also a bit unprepared for the quiet, and it changed the way he played some of the songs, and that was pretty neat. Another unusual thing was that the show started on time, and I was home by eleven with a Bahamas vinyl in hand. Now that’s a good night.