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John Vanderslice Proves Why He’s So Likable

November 6th, 2013

John Vanderslice – Mercury Lounge – November 5, 2013


John Vanderslice has been making music for more than a decade, however I’m most familiar with his production prowess. Vanderslice has recorded such acts as Death Cab
for Cutie
, Spoon and the Mountain Goats in his two-room recording studio, Tiny Telephone, in San Francisco. He is the type of guy who buys a round of beers for his fans, and it’s no surprise that he is well loved by those who have collaborated with him. During the late show last night at the Mercury Lounge, Vanderslice thanked the audience for coming to watch him play at 11 p.m. Spanning his vast discography to delight new and old fans, he began with “The Parade,” from 2007’s Emerald City, and followed with “Exodus Damage,” off Pixel Revolt.

Turning to newer material, “How the West Was Won,” the first single from his latest, Dagger Beach, provided the joie de vivre of the evening. Fittingly the video for the track melds his music with all the behind-the-scenes “heavy lifting” that goes on behind producing a record. Vanderslice’s last album was successfully funded by a Kickstarter campaign that generated close to $80,000. Rewards ranged from a digital download of the album to Vanderslice marrying a backer (to someone else.) No one actually took him up on that, but a few got him to perform at house shows and one even got to record at Tiny Telephone. His Kickstarter also funded John Vanderslice Plays Diamond Dogs, which were given away as limited-edition digital copies. He played “Sweet Thing” and “Big Brother” from that cover album.

To cap off the night Vanderslice, drummer Jason Slota and sax and flutist Mitch Marcus came down from the stage to encore among audience members. Fans joined in on “White Dove,” singing along to the chorus: “White dove, white dove. What are you thinking of?” As Tuesday evening became early Wednesday morning, there was no doubting Vanderslice’s likability. No pretense, just genuine care. —Sharlene Chiu