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Round, edgy night

David Bazan joins musicians, painters and poets for Tacoma Artists In The Round 5

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Whether he’s one hundred percent comfortable with it or not, David Bazan — formerly of Pedro the Lion — is an artist made for “the round.”

This Friday, Jan. 16, at Club SOTA in Tacoma, he’ll get a chance to put this fact on display — at least for all of those smart enough to show up. “The round” is a format that combines a number of artists — musicians, poets, and in the case of Friday’s show at Club SOTA even painters — and shares the spotlight between them, never focusing too long on one flavor and acting more as a musical discussion or give and take than a conventional show. Along with Bazan, Friday’s presentation at Club SOTA — known as Tacoma Artists In The Round, and the fifth installment in the series — will feature music from Goldfinch and Kirsten Wenlock, as well as painting from Chris Sharp and Mindy Barker and the street savvy and socially relevant poetry of 6 Deep the Messenger.

“The singer-songwriter term used to make me want to fight someone,” admits Bazan — who has become just that since ditching the full band setup in 2006 for “the sense of possibility” that playing solo affords him.

“I enjoy the format a lot. There’s an interesting dynamic,” says Bazan of performances in “the round,” which he’s been a part of in the past. “It highlights the community aspect of music, because you’re not spending a lot of time with any one artist.”

Bazan says as a professional performer he’s accustomed to most people in his audiences showing up to see only him, and — strange as it seems — it’s nice to have that not be necessarily the case when playing “in the round.”

“It’s almost like playing a wedding,” says Bazan. “It’s not about you.”

Many things are about Bazan these days, though. Not only is the now comfortably solo artist — known for his often gut wrenchingly painful yet still beautifully melancholy or morose song crafting style, which puts heavy emphasis on his one-of-a-kind voice and well-crafted and stacked melodies — putting the finishing touches on a record tentatively slated to be released by mid 2009, but his first DVD, Alone at the Microphone, is introducing fans of Pedro the Lion far and wide to the tangents and potential that a solo Bazan offers.

And there’s plenty to go around.

Bazan says fans and those inexperienced with his musical touch can expect his most autobiographical effort to date from the record to be released later this year — which will reportedly feature ten songs and many of the same themes Bazan has tackled with regularity, like love, doubt and questions of faith.

“When the songs came out I was a little taken back. They were very personal, which I don’t tend to do,” offers Bazan. “I really bucked against it for a while, but in the end I decided I felt the songs deeply. I figured whatever the perception will be when (the new record) comes out will have to be fine.”

“I’m proud of this record,” continues Bazan. “I’ll like this record when I’m an old man.”

Not only is Bazan looking forward to the release of his most autobiographical record to date, not to mention his chance to shine “in the round” on Friday at Club SOTA, but he’s also looking forward to returning to Tacoma and a chance to play for an all-ages crowd.

“Tacoma gets a bad rap, but it’s always been a good experience when I’ve played there,” says Bazan. “I feel guilty because I don’t really strive to play all-ages shows. But when they happen they are usually better. Kids love music in a slightly more pure way than grownups.”

So true.

See for yourself when David Bazan performs “in the round” as part of Tacoma Artists In The Round 5 at Club SOTA this Friday night.

[Club SOTA, Tacoma Artists In The Round 5, Friday, Jan. 16, 8 p.m., $8, 1117 Broadway, Tacoma,]

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