Unsocial at the Social

… Leeds Brudenell Social Club, that is, the venue of last night’s sets from Damien Jurado and Megafaun.

“Unsocial, DsD?” I hear you ask. Well, yes, in a couple of ways actually.

First of all, I was on me own. No crocodile tears required folks, this gig was never gonna be gordonimmel or DaddyPig‘s bag, though with hindsight, AliM may well have enjoyed it: sorry, Ali.

Secondly, I was of course driving myself to and from the gig, so sobriety was the order of the day. But as I was feeling a beer thirst (it’d been v.hot’n’sticky most of the day, despite the bursts of torrential rain), I had a pint of lager shandy. Gawd only knows why, but it gave me massive, constant expulsions of gas all evening. If I knew who the poor sods behind me were before they made a rapid exit at the end, I’d’ve been obliged to apologise!

My third gripe is a bit mean of me: I had every intention of getting a T-shirt this evening, but Damien doesn’t do ’em, and Megafaun only had XS to M left: not a lot of good for the, um, ever-more-generously-proportioned DsD!

Next was the non-appearance of the promised support band. 7pm arrival doors, 8.35 still playing Yahtzee on my phone whilst hiding my new-found gas-propelled levitation skills. OK, the gig was dirt cheap (only a tenner), but if there ain’t gonna be a support band, either don’t put it on the tickets, or at least tell us on arrival.

So anyway, at 8.45, Megafaun climb unannounced and unassuming onto the Brud stage, and for the next 3/4 of an hour give us a happy-go-lucky, slightly shambolic selection of their songs, concentrating very much more on the Grateful Dead / Beach Boys hybrid end of their sound, rather than their “headily absorbing, occasionally unsettling, full-bore concrète music, harsh noise salvos, and wild free-jazz interventions * “ thankfully for me. DsD-fave Get Right (from last year’s eponymous album) was slightly underwhelming – I can lose myself in the 8m30s studio version – but I put that down to it being played early, before we’d all got into a groove. However, they more than made up for that with an extended runthrough of Kaufman’s Ballad, which rocked out much more than the folky album version. They ended the set with Real Slow, which they turned into a lovely noodling jam, and meant they’d left the stage before I realised they hadn’t played Hope You Know, probably their best-known song, and one which is an early contender for the DsD 2012 Festive ‘Spill selections.

I was going to insert a show video of Alberta (the blues number made famous twice by Bob Dylan) here, but my iPhone and YouTube seem to have had a fallout, and aren’t now speaking to each other.

* from Pitchfork reviews … oh, and whilst I’m at it, here’s another quote on the subject of “unsocial” – from the BrightestYoungThings website Megafaun gig review of a show in Washington DC – which after tonight I heartily agree with:

A brief note to the latter half of the audience at the Megafaun show this past Thursday night at the Black Cat’s Backstage: do kindly shut the fuck up next time around.  You can go to any random bar on a Thursday night in DC and have a loud, inane conversation while music plays.  Why buy a ticket just to ruin a great show for people?

Despite my post title and all the moaning I’ve done so far, I have to say that Megafaun themselves were as social and courteous as it is possible to be. I’ll take this opportunity to thank multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook, for taking the time to write down some links for live sessions I can find on t’interweb, after I’d gushed about that live version of Kaufman’s Ballad. I however, was a little unsocial, or at least ungracious, to Phil in return, as Damien Jurado came on stage as we were talking, and I kinda hurried him up and snuck back to my seat.

Damien Jurado is a very intense performer. With the exception of the idiot couple sat on the floor next to me giggling about Canada, pretty much everyone in the room was absolutely rapt. I swear the old line about hearing a pin drop whist Damien sang is true. But again, you could easily describe his stage prescence as unsocial; the amateur psychologist in me would even have guessed at Asperger’s / borderline autistic had I not been pre-warned (by Shoey amongst others) about his lack of audience interaction. But the performances – WOW! You didn’t need to see his eyes behind those dark glasses to feel the blackness and pain; the lyrics, and that voice brought it right to your spine. Abilene and The Ghost Of David in particular were given extra chills by the power of the live performance from the man sat twenty feet in front of me. OK, so I didn’t get to hear either of my two all-time Jurado fave songs (Big Decision and Bad Dreams, if you’re interested), but we did get an ace rendition of Rachel & Cali, amongst several highlights.

When Damien did finally speak to us, it was to tell us that Megafaun would be joining him to play some songs at the end of the set. “At last”, I thought, as I’d been sold this gig on the basis it would be a three-set show, the two artistes on their own, plus one where Megafaun would back Jurado on a selection of his louder songs. Sadly however, we only got two, and no encore. Not very social of you, Mr. J. But here’s one of the two: Nothing Is The News, the opening song from DJ’s new album Maraqopa


His final twist of the knife – though I’m being churlish now – was that he used his longest spoken word speech of the night to tell us he won’t be back “probably for a few years”.  Gee thanks, Damien, rub it in why dontcha? US tour, huh? Check. Other commitments, too, is it? Check. Oh. Wait. What was that? “And I’ve got a baby on the way, so I’m gonna stay home and be a dad.” Aw, damn! Now I feel guilty.

Good luck on that adventure, sir, and oh yeah, parenthood, and committing to it that fully: that DEFINITELY makes you seem unsocial to the rest of us, but you know what? Go for it, with my best wishes, and see you round . . . . maybe.

17 thoughts on “Unsocial at the Social

  1. Yeay. That worked. Let’s push my luck – can I find Megafaun’s Alberta, as my iPhone says it’s now uploaded it to YouTube …

  2. I would have gone to that with you if I was there, but probably for different reasons. Damien Jurado is undoubtedly a huge talent and Rachel & Cali is really brill. I wouldn’t be sworn on seeing him perform though because his best albums are with Richard Swift and what he does is go in for a couple of days and do his bit and let Swift spend the next couple of months finishing it. Not sure who he thinks he is, but no one is that good. His first albums were indifferent and I guess you saw some of that personality.

    Megafaun are bad-ass rock and rollers, and I’m disappointed if they mailed it in ’cause they’d be why I was there.

  3. Ooh no Tin, I mustn’t let you keep that impression of either performer.

    I agree wholeheartedly about Damien’s early albums being rather underproduced. Ghost Of David, for example, was quite a disappointment when I first got it. But that’s why last night was SO good, because even without Richard Swift’s hand on the tiller, the good ship Jurado absolutely powered along on just a beautifully played guitar and a voice completely in control of the elements.

    Re Megafaun: no they couldn’t be accused of just mailing in a performance. [Er, yes they can be “accused” of it, DsD: Tinny just did! – Pedantic Ed.] As I waited for my chance to talk to Phil Cook, I overheard him say something that bears repeating. He was telling a girl from Minnesota that they were just “kicking back and enjoying this tour. There’s no pressure, no new album to promote. [They] can just have fun with the music; varying setlists

    • Oh OK, I misunderstood your comment about Megafaun then.

      They are such a ‘below the radar’ band. People in general haven’t even heard of them. [And, of course, none of us have a clue what a faun is, let along a mega one)] They do the hippy-trippy rootsy stuff, but I’ve heard them hard rock too and I love how they keep pushing the folk boundaries. Well, not so much pushing as tipping them over.

      • I would recommend Carolina Chocolate Drops to you if you are seriously into people tipping over folk boundaries. I’ll, ahem, Drops some.

  4. Damn. Hit Send too soon. That sentence should finish:
    … and jamming with arrangements as [they] please.

    You could sense that in the performance. It wasn’t the “rehearsed-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life” tightness of a promotion tour; it was more of a joyous jam. They definitely cared though.

    In fact if anything, that brought Jurado’s intensity even more into focus. I’d probably go so far as to say that the whole was, as a result, greater than the sum of its parts.

  5. Glad you enjoyed, Dsd – at least, I think you did. I couldn’t have gone anyway so I’m not heartbroken or anything. And I was spared the effects of the shandy. It’s never the same, going to gigs on your own, is it? No one to bounce off. And no one to keep an eye on your drink when you need a pee.

  6. Thanks Shoey. Not bothered by choice of the topic – it may as well be RRSA Cantilevered Wednesday Breadcakes for all I care – it’s just good to get back in the groove!

  7. Just saw on RR (Sakura’s weekly update) that I had completely missed this (among other) posts. Like you, I’ve been having mega computer problems and trying to get them sorted. Four failed clean reinstalls of the OP system so far in the last couple of weeks. Boo hoo.

    Sorry that you had a sober night and a not so good experience. Not familiar with Megafaun so will have a look-see before I plunge back into the darkness for another reinstall,

    I also managed not to see that you are back posting on RR. Please don’t think that this is selective DsD blindness on my part! I’ve just sort of scrolled through looking for songs I recognize for this topic and checking a few comments. Glad to see you there.

    Hope your computer probs are sorted. I just got a nice email from the Gangstagrass people with a better quality copy of the Rappalachia CD. So holler when you want me to box it,

    • OUCH! I reckon four failed reinstalls is a major hint to data-recover and invest in a new box. I gave up after two failures, though a surge’n’blown power-supply unit after the second go also kinda forced the issue. Apart from the horrific panic that there were two months worth of (mine & DsMam’s) work and photos not backed up, dumping the machine wasn’t too hard a decision. It was four years old, new enough to be a SATA hard drive, but old enough to feel slow and small compared even to the girls’ laptop. So having enlisted the tech expertise of a friend who performed a machine autopsy to get the HDD out – he then piggy-backed it onto one of his machines to get all the lost stuff off onto an external drive *PHEW* – I’m now looking for a new machine.
      Any tips on where to look outside of ebuyer, cclonline, laptopsdirect, etc. gratefully received. dabs, Dell, and the High St chains all typically over-priced and restrictively-choiced. I don’t trust eBay for something like this, and it isn’t Amazon’s strong suit.

      Re sober gigs – doesn’t generally seem to bother me any more, but it did last week for some reason, probably because I had to sit there sipping one rubbish lager shandy for 90 mins with nothing else happening.

      Re RR – I’m just glad to be back. Can’t see Sakura picking Sunn O))) or Pompeii, but it’s the taking part that counts, eh?!?!?

      Re Gangstagrass – Ta. I will.

  8. It’s just coming up to a year old and still under warranty! And guess what, Toshiba are being less than helpful, but luckily the WO is on the books even though the warranty expires on Saturday. And I DO have everything backed up x3 on external hard drives. I am out of my depth. They said after the next clean install it’s still corrupt they will have a look. I thought Dell were bad, but this takes the cake.

    Don’t know about where to buy – a total dufus, tbh.

    I missed your nominations, so sorry about that. I planned not be doing RR for a couple of weeks til I’ve got this sorted out, but I’ll have a listen to your next noms when I’m back on. Email me your address and I’ll send you Gangstagrass on CD, It’s perfect to crank up in the car and piss off all the neighbours with. (Might have to get your suspension jigged and huge tires put on.)

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