Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Damien Jurado Repost

Damien Jurado played in Toronto last night, but I was too wiped out from a long weekend with my folks to attend the show. Also, I have seen him twice before, both times opening for Okkervil River in 2007. I'm actually surprised that he even came back to Toronto, considering the last two times he was in town he got robbed (his van was broken into outside of the El Mocambo in 2005), and then ignored (see below). Still, it would have been nice to see him with his full band.

Here are two mini reviews I wrote in 2007 about Mr. Jurado opening for Okkervil River.

Friday, September 21, 2007
Lee's Palace, Toronto, Ontario

Damien Jurado opened the show with a solo acoustic set and was clearly out of place at this venue. His soft, beautiful vocals were completely lost on most of the audience. Some jerk behind me said “dude, this isn’t a coffee house.” Then Jurado told a story about how his van was broken into and all of his stuff stolen the last time he was in Toronto. Most of the people there were not even paying attention to him and loudly talked and clinked beer bottles. I really felt bad for the guy, and he seemed completely uncomfortable in that setting.

Saturday, September 22, 2007
Pepper Jack Cafe, Hamilton, Ontario

Half way through his opening solo acoustic set, Damien Jurado told a hysterical story about a philosophical discussion with his young son Miles, which went something like this:

Dad, why do you play such sad songs?
I don't know. That's just what I do.
And people pay to see you play?
Yeah, that's how daddy makes his living.
So, you make them sad?
Yeah, I guess.
Dad, you are ripping them off!

I got to the Pepper Jack Cafe a bit late and missed the first part of Jurado's set, but as soon as I walked in the door it was obvious that this night was going to be exactly the opposite as Jurado's performance on Friday night in Toronto. First, the venue was tiny. Tiny to the point that I said, “whoa” out loud when I entered. The capacity was about 150-200 people, and it was not sold out.

Jurado was sitting at the front of the stage, his beautiful voice projecting over the attentive crowd. Between songs he was telling stories and interacting with the crowd. In fact, in direct in contrast to the Toronto debacle, the crowd actually got more attentive and quiet as more people entered the cafe. His banter was hysterical: “So I am going to play some upbeat stuff now so that you won't need a shirk after this show ......OK, maybe that didn't sound upbeat to you, but it is an upbeat song when my band is here. I heard the drums in my head.” The sound was a lot better than vacuous Lee's Palace, and Jurado had more energy in his voice. Jurado commented, “This is really nice. Usually I am in loud venues.” And some of the Okkervil River boys were milling around in back, perhaps to catch Jurado in his element.

Paper Kite.mp3
Buy: Caught in the Trees (2008)

Denton, TX.mp3
Buy: And Now That I'm in Your Shadow (2006)

Buy: Rehearsals for Departure (1999)

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