David Bazan (Pedro the Lion) / John Grant (The Czars)
Swedish American Hall
March 30, 2006
Review by Jake Thomas
Woo boy, this show was a real firecracker from start to finish. I was there pretty much after the doors opened, because I did not want to miss one second of the first performer, John Grant. I’ve been obsessive about The Czar’s record “The Ugly People vs. the Beautiful People”, but the band broke up and I never thought I’d get to see them. It turns out though that the singer/main force of the band, John Grant, is touring as The Czars, and they were added to this line-up at the last minute. Normally, it would probably irk me a little to see a front man touring under the name of his former band, but if you’ve ever heard The Czars you know the thing that makes them stand out so much is Grant’s voice – it is what hooks you in, and what makes you stick around. The gig itself was just him playing a piano and singing…a lot of newer tracks as near as I could tell, but he played “Drug” from the aforementioned album and it floored me. My only complaint is that for whatever reason, they had his vocals turned up way too high in the speakers and it would get distorted when he would really belt it out – which was often. Honestly, his voice is so strong and that hall is so quiet that amplification probably wasn’t even necessary. If you ever get a chance to see this man sing, do not miss the opportunity.
I've seen David Bazan (some may know him as the main force behind Pedro the Lion) about a million times, give or take a couple of performances. So it’s no small statement when I say that I think this might have been the best show I’ve ever seen him put on. He was incredibly loose and goofy the entire time, and according to the question and answer session that he usually employs in-between songs, he is circumcised and hung like an acorn (in case you were wondering). He also told some off-color jokes and made fun of Vic Chestnut in a joking way, who he will be touring Europe in the near future. His songs ran the gamut of his catalog from old to new, and there were even a couple in there I didn’t recognize that were either new or rare. I always enjoy his non-band shows the best, but this one took the cake.