There’s certain music that resonates deeply, that provides a soundtrack to certain periods of life and forever reminds you of the feelings experienced during that time, however good or bad they might have been. Over the past couple of years, that kind of aural therapy has been provided for me by David Bazan and Pedro the Lion.
I first heard about Bazan and his band back in college, from a friend from Denver who highly recommended I check them out. I’m almost glad I didn’t back then; I honestly don’t think I would have been able to process it properly, to fully appreciate what he does with his voice, his words, his musical arrangments.
It’s only been in recent years that I came aboard, with enough years and miles behind me through which to learn about the doubt and loss that Bazan writes and sings about so masterfully. As I’ve gone through periods of theological and spiritual deconstruction, watched helplessly as my wife undergo cancer treatment and witness / experience the toll that has taken on our family of 5, and as I’ve come to terms with my own many failings and weaknesses, Bazan has helped remind me that I am not alone.
Lauren and I went to see a recently reunited Pedro in Toronto on Aug. 8, and it was such a treat to see them live. To give you a sense of how down to earth this project is, there’s few front men who can get away with hanging out on the street in front of the venue prior to the show, casually tossing on a hoodie and walking down the street to do whatever one does before taking to the stage in front of a throng of fans. Not only that, I perfectly timed my pre-show bathroom break, as Bazan walked in while I was doing my business, affording me (after we were both done, of course) the opportunity to tell him how excited I was for the show and how much I appreciated his music. I told him some friends of mine had hosted a house show of his, and he replied with a “fuck yeah, that was great … but tonight will be better.”
A brief interaction, but memorable nonetheless.
The whole show was predictably brilliant, but there were a couple moments during the show that I won’t soon forget. After promising not to talk much between songs, Bazan beautifully broke that promise by addressing the subject of mental health. His music has been described as “sadcore”, and it’s clear he’s battled his own demons over the years, a reality he acknowledged by admitting he often has trouble getting out of bed, the state of the world being what it is these days. But, he continued, it’s vital that we let our big feelings out of our hearts and mouths, to seek out a safe person who will be there in even the darkest times. And if we’re doing OK, we have to step up and be that safe person for others who aren’t.
It was more than I had ever heard about mental health in the Church that Bazan left and wouldn’t have anything to do with him now; but THIS was a potentially life-saving message, true good news – simply, we are not alone.
Later, he sang the following tune, and repeated the line “you are worthy of love” in a way that was impossible to ignore, that made you actually believe it.
No matter what you’ve done or what you’re going through, you are worthy of love. Surround yourself with people able to remind you of that.
Thank you for an evening to remember, good sir. I tip my cap to you, and very much look forward to a new Pedro album in 2019.