How Pedro the Lion Pulls off Being Spiritual and Not Sucking - Oh My Rockness

Recommended Show
November 03, 2004
David Bazan, a.k.a. Pedro the Lion, is one of the more down-to-earth rock stars you'll ever come across. Completely void of pretension, Bazan holds Q and A sessions on stage in between songs. At a recent show at Northsix he asked, as usual, if anyone had any questions. A woman piped up from the back and said something akin to, "Describe your personal relationship with Jesus Christ." Ouch. If you want to kill a party, start talking about religion. But being at a Pedro show, everyone in the crowd was pretty sure that question was coming, although most of us hoped it wouldn't. However I saw no trace of a cringe on Bazan's face when he very politely and graciously said something like, "Oh, it's pretty complicated. I really prefer not to discuss that stuff with a big group of people but if you want to talk after the show, that's cool." Perhaps the woman wanted Bazan to use his stage to champion a shared belief. Perhaps she was simply curious. But Bazan's not really about platforms. And he's never really been up for giving answers. And that is precisely why the music of Pedro the Lion works.

What is admirable about Bazan is that his faith (which is written about in every review... who am I to stop the trend?) seems to provoke even more questions for him rather than easy, black and white answers. He's a man struggling to make sense of the world, not to save it. And with songs about murder, adultery and death, these are definitely not praise choruses. But there is something satisfying about listening to a Pedro the Lion album... you know there's going to be loss and heartache, but the process of suffering alongside him becomes therapeutic in a way. It's like a late afternoon in February when NYC is at its most miserable. You hate the dreariness, but at the same time you're also kind of into the wallowing. Maybe one mark of a good songwriter is if the listener isn't sure if they're depressed or happy after listening to your songs.

Pedro the Lion's music, like Bazan's faith, is complex. You won't find that cliche crescendo or cute key change meant to induce inspiration. You won't find sunny lyrics neatly trapped in a verse/chorus/verse formula. You won't find everything working out in the end. And surely, no one will ever accuse Pedro the Lion of being a "feel-good" band. But there's something refreshing about a man of faith being depressed. It makes it more, well, real. David Bazan may look upwards, but his head is never in the clouds. And for that, I respect him.

Pedro the Lion play Wednesday, November 10th, at Bowery Ballroom


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