Friday, September 20, 2013

Damien Jurado; September 20, 2013; Kiki’s House of Righteous Music

For most of my shows the band shows up early, I make dinner, they set up, sound check, hang out.  I’ve never been nervous that the performer wasn’t going to show up until I hosted David Bazan last year.  The sold out crowd was all here at 8 pm, but Bazan didn’t show up till 8:10.  He quickly set up and started the show, playing a seventy minute set during which he answered whatever random questions people threw at him.  So when Jurado wasn’t here at 8:15, I didn’t panic, I figured he just rolled the same way.  When it got to be 8:30 I was a little nervous, after all the next night was my 100th show, I’d already ordered the cake.  If tonight didn’t happen I’d have to scrape off the frosting and write 99 instead.  I called one of the guys from Undertow, “He’s not here yet, should I be worried?”  Turns out Juado’s flight from Seattle had left him seriously jet-lagged and he’d slept through his alarm at the hotel. 

He spent the rest of the night apologizing for it and I am pretty sure he was guilted into playing a few more songs than he had planned to make it up to everyone.  Like Bazan, he answered all questions that were thrown his way.  And for many of them the answers were surprising.  Unlike Bazan, I could actually hear the answers.  Turns out he never meant to be a musician or write songs.  His ideal job would be a flower delivery man he claimed, but the songs keep coming and he seems to have no choice but to write them down.  His nonchalance about his ease of writing must have been hard to hear for any songwriters in the audience who labor over their craft.  He gave us a surprising sneak preview into what he would be doing after this short house concert tour.  Turns out he had done a song with Moby for the latter’s new record and he was going on tour with him to sing that one song every night.  There were a week’s rehearsals in LA before they would head out, and a list of requirements he needed to follow.  For instance it stipulated that he had to wear all white while performing.  His girlfriend pointed out that it didn’t say “what” he had to wear and immediately suggested a polar bear costume.  Now that I want to see.

The songs that came between the talking weren’t quite as memorable and much shorter on surprising revelations, but they were uniformly pretty and mostly forlorn.  The more uplifting only got as high as bittersweet.  I enjoyed watching the rapt attention of the audience almost as much as I did the show.  People seemed afraid to breathe, whether for fear of destroying the mood or their own rapture.  And they were definitely afraid to use the bathroom, even the muffled sound of water seemed loud when the only other sounds were a man and his guitar.

Sure, it could have gone a little smoother, but I’d say show number 99 was a success.  If only because I didn’t have to mess with frosting.

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