New and nuanced with Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan

Introspective, but in a blue-collar way

Pedro the Lion
  • Pedro the Lion
Past Event

Pedro the Lion and Tomberlin

  • Saturday, February 16, 2019, 7 p.m.
  • Irenic, 3090 Polk Avenue, San Diego

Good plain rock and roll. And that’s no small achievement, considering that by now, every possible note and chord combination has likely been played. Nothing new to be done. And yet, somehow, Pedro the Lion sounds as fresh and full of equal measures of hope and protest as did American garage rock when it sprouted across the land in the wake of the onslaught of U.K. rock and pop bands during the mid-1960s. And if you like introspective, but in a blue-collar way, Pedro’s got you covered:

“Second best, oh, second best” cries leader David Bazan, singing the part of a wife who discovers her husband’s infidelity. “I can learn to live with this / plus, I really need a break.”

Bazan, 43, from Phoenix, is Pedro the Lion. A multi-instrumentalist, for seeming eons Bazan drummed in many almost-famous bands. Pedro, the trio, came about in the late 1990s and included a staggering number of musicians: 22 at different times, including Ben Gibbard, who went on to Death Cab for Cutie. But Bazan failed to find the winning lineup. He retired Pedro the Lion in 2004. By then, he’d released four critically-acclaimed emo-rockish full-length albums and five Eps. He bought a van, as the story goes, and he spent the next years on tour as a solo act. He came back to Pedro in 2017, recorded an album called Phoenix, and picked back up where the band left off.

Bazan/Pedro is performing with fellow Lions Erik Walters and Sean Lane now. He plays bass in this band, and he handles the vocals. Bazan’s voice is laid-back but unwavering in a sort of black-and-white way. No theatrics. Just enough nuance to tell the story. And story is what Pedro the Lion is about. It would not come as a huge surprise if, by tour’s end, Bazan once again retires the Lion and hunkers down to write novels.

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