Famed and influential northwest musician, David Bazan (Pedro the Lion, Headphones, Overseas), poured his heart out in front of a captivated audience in the living room of a house in Bellingham’s Puget Neighborhood Thursday evening.
For the past few years now, Bazan has been going on tours solely dedicated to playing in the living room of some stranger’s house, a different one each night. These tours are aptly called “Living Room Tours.”
The idea for these tours all started after Bazan had recorded Curse Your Branches his first full-length solo LP in 2008.
Bazan’s label, Barsuk Records, wanted to delay the release of Branches ten months and in order to muster up enough hype for the big release wanted Bazan to hold from touring too.
Ten months is a long time without income when you make your living from touring. “We had to figure out a way to honor the spirit of our agreement with Barsuk, but defy the letter of the agreement,” said Bazan.
The living room tour got the O.K from Barsuk and Bazan left for an 80 show tour that year coming back wanting to go on more.
“For me, I imagine that [living room shows] will always be a pretty big component of my touring. I still love playing clubs and theaters, but this is something I have control over. I’ll always do it, somewhat. It’s just so easy.” When I asked him if these tours were easier than having to deal with club promoters, he laughed and said “Oh my god, yeah!”
There’s certainly a lot of trust involved in these tours. For example, you are not told the address of the house until you pay for the ticket online. “One of our goals is to make [the shows] not volatile, it seems like something that could go south,” said Bazan, for example, the cops could be called, people can mistake it for a big party. That model has proved to be successful for him, and I think some of it has to do with his music, but you can’t be too sure. Luckily, audience members have been well behaved.
These living room shows are a unique experience; someone is coming into your home and personally thanking you for letting them play there. “You don’t get that with going to a bar, the artist doesn’t walk up to you and personally thank you,” said Rob Stauffer, host of the Bellingham show and seventh-grade teacher at Fairhaven Middle School.
A few years ago, Rob and his roommate hosted a Bazan living room show in their house. After hearing that Bazan was looking for hosts in the Seattle area, he sent Bazan’s manager an e-mail offering up his living room.
“It was a really great experience, and I would definitely do it again in a heartbeat,” said Rob.