H.C. McEntire + Pedro The Lion | 8/12/18 | Black Cat (Washington, D.C.)
On Sunday, David Bazan visited the Black Cat as Pedro The Lion for the first time since a 2005 opening slot for Low. With the exception of three tracks from his solo catalogue, this was a Pedro-only set that relied heavily on 2002's Control. I missed out on the 2012 tour where Bazan played the album in full under his own name, so I was happy to see six tracks performed from it. Matching the intensity of tracks such as "Second Best" in a live-setting is not easy, but Bazan and his band pulled it off. They also played "Quietest Friend," a new song that will appear on Phoenix, the new Pedro album to be released in early 2019 on Polyvinyl.
Bazan has long been known to take questions from audience members in-between songs. That only occurred once during this show, as Bazan instead chose to keep the interruptions at a minimum. The focus that he and his band displayed justified this decision. However, he did take time to do a very genuine and thoughtful riff on toxic masculinity that could not be more timely. The newly-added diss to Steve Bannon in "Slow and Steady Wins the Race" was also much appreciated. Although I would argue that he is at his best with an acoustic guitar in a stranger's living room, Bazan and his band more than did justice to many of Pedro's finest songs on this evening.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention H.C. McEntire, the opening act. My familiarity with the Mount Moriah singer consisted of the four or five tracks I listened to from her solo debut in my car the morning of the concert. I have since listened to Lionheart, the album she released on Merge earlier this year. I must say that she might be even better live. McEntire's take on alt-country is heartfelt and exciting. Her and her band gave one of the best performances I have seen from an opener in quite some time.