Tag Archives: Michael Nau

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David Bazan Goes Deep at Rough Trade NYC on Thursday

November 10th, 2017

David Bazan – Rough Trade NYC – November 9, 2017


The opening verse of “Magazine” pretty much sums up the inner conflict that singer-songwriter David Bazan—of the beloved indie-rock outfit Pedro the Lion—has been struggling through his entire career. Once an evangelical Christian, he’s challenged his faith with each release in a way that never pulls any punches. After four full-lengths and five EPs, Bazan decided to retire the band name in order to go solo and explore his relationship with faith without the religious baggage his old band carried. Any longtime fan of his songwriting would be able to tell you that his relationship to the church was never an issue. As a lyricist, Bazan has always been able to pull apart the complex equations that everyday people spend their entire lives trying to solve. In the years since Pedro’s demise, he’s remained prolific, releasing albums and singles under his own name as well as launching many different side projects (his group Lo Tom, played Rough Trade NYC over the summer). Last month, Bazan announced that he would be reviving Pedro for a string of reunion shows this winter as well as plans to record and tour again as a working unit.

But before he can get to work on that, Bazan is finishing up promoting his most recent solo album, Care, which brought his tour to Brooklyn to play Rough Trade NYC last night along with singer-songwriter Michael Nau of Page France. Nau set the tone with a short set of laid-back songs accompanied by a lead guitarist, upright bassist and a drum machine that he’d program in between numbers. His material took on a trance-inducing quality that recalled Lambchop at their most ethereal with lyrics that seemed heartbreakinghly personal. Shortly after, Bazan took the stage backed by a three-piece. And for the most part, he and his band kept it “strictly business” as they plowed through material from Care and his 2016 LP, Blanco, with little talking in between songs, aside from a brief intermission when he took questions from the crowd. Both albums had been a slight sonic departure for Bazan, as they each strictly used synths and drum machines—so it was great to hear these songs getting the heavier band treatment live. He delighted the crowd with a few old Pedro songs, like “When They Really Get to Know You They Will Run” and “Penetration,” and even dusted off the old Headphones tune “Gas and Matches.”

For the encore, Bazan took questions for the second time of the night. As expected, most of them had to do with the Pedro reunion, and he was frank and honest with his answers, explaining that the decision was made in order to tour and record music “as a band” again and to bring his music to a much larger audience. For a sometimes frustratingly overlooked force in the world of indie rock, it’s hard to blame him. He also assured the crowd that the Pedro tour would make its way to New York City in the future but would have to keep us in suspense as to when. He and his band then closed with the opening song off of Pedro’s final album, Achilles Heel, “Bands With Managers,” which had everyone singing along in unison. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

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White Denim Cap Off Stellar Aquarium Drunkard Showcase

October 17th, 2013

Aquarium Drunkard Showcase – Mercury Lounge – October 16, 2013


While every night on the NYC live-music scene is a potential party, a night during CMJ takes it to the next level, like an over-the-top wedding reception celebrating the marriage between the music and the fans. Like every good wedding, it’s tradition to have something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. And last night’s Aquarium Drunkard showcase at Mercury Lounge had a healthy dose of each, running the gamut from vintage sounds, new directions and, yes, plenty of blues. It’s good to get to these shows early because you never know what gems you might find. After a tussle with traffic, I made it in time for the last few songs of Jacco Gardner’s set. Hailing from the Netherlands, he is riding the acclaim of his excellent Cabinet of Curiosities album. Gardner finished his set with “Chameleon,” proving to be a one-man wormhole (with backing band), reaching back to another time with gorgeous, lush melodies and a delicious psych folk.

Cotton Jones, from Maryland, came to New York City as a two-piece, frontman Michael Nau playing several solo songs and a few in duet with Whitney McGraw. This was a simple bluesy indie rock sweetened by Nau’s salted-caramel voice, which found perfect confluence with his lyrics, a highlight being “Blood Red Sentimental Blues.” This was easy-chair music: You felt like you could listen to these two sing forever, plus some A+ whistling. But the name of the game was quick turnaround—both the bands and the crowd seemed to swap out every 30 to 40 minutes, no time to get stale. The Zig Zags, blasting a go-fetch-some-earplugs, visceral punk metal at full volume, flipped the room 180 degrees from Cotton Jones. Playing their first NYC gig, the L.A. power trio made their presence felt with kicking music and dry wit: “This song is called ‘Magic.’ It’s about magic.” Riffs beget riffs beget not-bleeping-around riffs, at one point borrowing snippets of the Doors’ “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” to good effect.

Jonathan Rado’s band began their set in fun mode, seeming like the music and the crowd were just side effects of hanging out onstage. But after a couple of songs, the Foxygen frontman’s set got rolling, the music tightening up impressively. The highlight was “Oh, Suzanna!” which was decorated with excellent bass playing and a nice long, stretched-out, free-form bridge that found Rado on both guitar and keys.

White Denim, from Austin, Texas, headlined the showcase. And despite it being their third local show in fewer than four months, the set was from-the-garden fresh and new. Opening with “Pretty Green” off their imminent new album, Corsicana Lemonade, the music felt like it could explode at any moment, bubbling with fizzy energy. And it didn’t take long, the first few tunes like an avalanche sucking up more songs and parts of others until the now-packed venue faced an unstoppable force. Perhaps it was the midnight hour, but more than ever, the band seemed willing to open up things, with the spaces between sung verses a varying parameter with solos, long jams and full-on instrumentals filling the set—each musician pushing the envelope on songs like “Anvil Everything.” It was fitting that this dizzying evening of music from all over the rock and roll map came to a head with White Denim in monster rock-out mode on “I Start to Run” before making a smooth transition into the jungle groove of “River to Consider” and then into the blazing sing-along of “Drug,” bass, guitars and drums overlapping in triumphant glory. With their seamless segues and deft skill, Denim mocked the tight schedule of the early evening, making their 75-minute performance feel almost infinite, as a high-energy “Shake Shake Shake” and the brain-batter instrumental “At the Farm” highlighted the end of the superlative show, capping off a huge evening of music … or just another night of CMJ. —A. Stein