Chad VanGaalen’s got a troubling voice. The Canadian singer/songwriter sounds like a cross between another Canadian named Neil Young and a smoke alarm. He uses that singing voice to bait a listener into simple-sounding little lullabies about a world that both intrigues a listener and, when it’s over, makes one glad that life isn’t really like that. It’s all there in a VanGaalen set list — death, fear, evil, and love, but like this: “It’s what you said last night/ You’d like us on top of a cake/ But you won’t let me take a bite.” You can’t fix that kind of soul loneliness.
Chad VanGaalen, "Pine and Clover"
VanGaalen is one of those rare finds that, via some crank planetary alignment, get discovered by larger forces in the music industry that can lift such an individual out of obscurity and put him on a tour. Otherwise, I’d expect that VanGaalen would still be home in his bedroom in Alberta, recording stuff to charm his friends and family with his singular sense of absurdity. Definitely, his stuff seems like the kind of music written with no particular audience in mind.
VanGaalen is also a painter and an animator, and he teaches musical instrument building and art to children. He’s re-inventing the craft of the one-man band, being that he plays all the instruments (and he even invents some of them) on his recordings. But live, VanGaalen travels with one or two sidemen.
- Thursday, November 16, 2017, 8 p.m.
3615 El Cajon Boulevard,
$12 - $15
Since 2004 when his DIY gig got discovered, he has produced seven full-length albums and four EPs. He is touring at present in support of the recently released Light Information. It is possibly his most accessible work yet: “You know time can’t be trusted/ To move like you want it to move/ It pulls you into its slip stream/ And never lets you go.” By the way, VanGaalen once told a reporter that he hates Neil Young.