Although still recovering from my uber late night spent with the Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue on Tuesday, shows stop for no one and there was no way in hell I was going to miss Pedro the Lion on Wednesday. After a quick nap and the inner battle of, “Do I really need to go to this show?”, I found myself in my car driving downtown because, yes, I did need to go to this show. There aren’t many bands or people I haven’t seen live and Pedro the Lion is one of those few. It would just be stupid to miss this chance to see them.
H.C. McEntire kicked the night off and within the first song I knew I had made the right choice when it came to giving up sleep to be at this show. Her quick opening set was raw and powerful while being perfectly polished and full of energy. There was just this energy that radiated from her and the stage as she sang unapologetically about subjects that other singers may stray away from. One of the few openly gay female country artists, H.C. (real name Heather) isn’t afraid to sing about it and, while singing about it, you could feel some of the trials and tribulations that it has caused her. It’s that raw honesty and her huge blue eyes that glistened in the spotlight that had me completely captivated throughout her opening set.
Beyond the honesty of her lyrics, there was a sense of conviction as she spoke. Everything was real about her. The way she didn’t smile the whole time because it’s not really music to smile about (although it’s beautiful enough to have had me grinning throughout the set), the way she took the time to introduce her three bandmates and best friends that have joined her for this journey… there was just something so real about her that it was impossibly to not fall in love with her energy. Although classified as country, her music is so much more than that. Sure, there was a country twang that reigned supreme throughout her set but that twang mixed with the indie alt-rock, almost puml. vibes and soulful vocals created a sound that was truly unique and just added to how amazing this opener was. Can you tell that H.C. McEntire gained a new fan last night? Actually, she gained many because the room was pretty much sold out by the time she was done and all of the conversations around me were about how amazing she was.
After a super short stage change over, it was time for the one and only Pedro the Lion. Where do I even begin with this group. Although I was all about loud and intense back when I was in high school, there was something about Pedro the Lion’s recordings that soothed my soul and honestly, looking back, I’m not quite sure I would have survived without it. Singer David Bazan had a voice that could lull me into a calm after the worst day of my life. It was a sound that could push me off to dreamland even during the most sleepless nights. What I’m trying to say is Pedro the Lion is one of those bands that, although my taste in music has truly evolved throughout the years, they have remained a constant that I know I can always go back to on cold and lonely nights.
This Seattle based indie-rock group formed in 1995 and, even with a break in there where David focused on other projects including a solo one that I fell in love with, quickly became one of the more iconic bands in the underground indie scene. With a nearly twenty song set, majority of the songs were old tracks from Pedro the Lion albums but there were a couple of solo songs thrown in there. Although clearly different, the solo songs were so cohesive with the full bands songs that it made for a truly stunning set. There’s just something about David’s voice and the simplicity (although I’m sure it’s not simple to play) instrumentation set behind it. Mix that sound with the white lights that whizzed around the room timed perfectly with the music and the nearly sold out audience was left with so much more than just a concert– it was truly a mind blowing experience.
As I wandered through the crowded venue, it was hard not to realize the faces around me. People’s eyes were glued to the stage and everyone’s face had a smile that stretched from ear to ear. I go to hundreds of shows a year and have seen thousands of bands since I started this crazy lifestyle of going to a show almost every night but it’s not every night that you see a crowd like this. It was clear as day just how much this band meant to the people who had taken the time out of their busy lives to attend their concert. That level of respect and admiration gave me chills throughout the night and added another layer to an already dazzling night of music and emotions.