It’s been rainy, dreary and cold up here in Minneapolis. It’s hard not to feel a wee bit down because of it. Seriously… day after day of grey skies after a hellish winter that seemed to never end, it’s getting harder and harder to find the bright spots right now. The Fine Line was one of those bright spots on Tuesday night. From the personality and passion that reigned supreme from the stage from the opening act to the amount of love and energy that flowed from the stage and onto the packed audience from the headliner, I seriously don’t think there was a better way to spend a rainy and cold Tuesday night.
Solo act John Vanderslice was the sole opening act of the night but he didn’t take the stage alone. Joined by headliner Pedro the Lion front-man David Bazan, John seemed a bit nervous and anxious as he explained that this was his last night on tour with David and his band. David took over the microphone and spoke words of praise for John not only as a musician, but also as a person. Honestly, they could have just gone back and forth for a solid hour and I would have stood there patiently, with a smile on my face, while good vibes filled the room. A touching opening for what would turn into a truly spectacular set (well, both sets were amazing), it wasn’t until David left the stage that we really got to witness just how amazing of a musician and person John is.
At age 51, John has been through a lot and his music shows this sort of journey that is his life. Although I walked into the show on Tuesday completely unfamiliar with John other than having heard his name before, there was something so familiar about him as he played through his fictional story-telling songs and told the audience his non-fictional (but almost fictional sounding at times) stories about his life. There was an undeniable sense of beauty that radiated from him whether he was telling a story through song or just talking but there was a sense of calm and passion that came through loud and clear while he sang that I just could not get enough. Full of conviction, every single word had a meaning to him and the power behind that stunned myself and the rest of the audience. I see musicians every night of my damn life and their words always run deep with me but there was something about John that had me absolutely captivated and totally enthralled in his every move and every note.
Have I gushed about John Vanderslice enough for you yet? I feel like I’ve said all I can say but that it’s nowhere near enough to do this man justice. Hell, my words will never do him justice. From the questions submitted prior to the show by fans that he answered completely candidly and with no smoke or mirrors (even talking about his cat and his cat’s favorite cat food which, well, you talk about your cat and I’ll instantly love you) to him being completely transparent about the map he was selling at the merch table (long story) that only cost $1.07 to make but he was selling for $20– seriously, please just go see John Vanderslice. Please. It will change you.
Clearly last night’s show could have just been hours on hours of John Vanderslice and I would have been more than fine but as he cleared off the stage and made way for the headliner, I couldn’t help but get excited. I finally got to cross Pedro the Lion off my bucketlist last August when I saw them. I knew I was going to love their live show but I think I was surprised just by how much. Pedro the Lion is one of those bands that, although the name may not sound familiar, I bet you have heard at least one of their songs. Never quite making it to the big leagues as far as radio play or popularity goes, they definitely have a cult following and said cult has musical genius David Bazan as their leader.
Where to begin with vocalist David Bazan. He’s truly a bit of a genius. From producing to recording to playing– he truly does it all but what’s more impressive is the way he is able to fit so much passion and emotion into one song. With a set list of around twenty songs that spanned a good chunk of Pedro the Lion’s impressive nearly twenty-five year run (yes, there were breaks in there but it’s still impressive) along with a couple of David’s beautiful solo tracks thrown in, there was no stone left unturned when it came to the headlining set. It was easy to see just how easily the band had captivated the audience. With silence from the crowd and very little movement, it was almost as if everyone was too into it to move or even breathe to heavy. An undeniable sense of respect for the group mixed with the deafening passion that was flowing off the stage to create an amazingly beautiful atmosphere.
The dark and dreary weather can affect you in ways you didn’t even know possible especially after being stuck in a horrid winter for the past eight months. If you’re not careful, it’ll drag you down to a bottom that you didn’t know you could hit. Find a bright spot and cling to it– even if it’s just for a couple of hours. Thank you John Vanderslice and Pedro the Lion for providing a bright spot.