Visual Arts Collective 3638 Osage Street, Garden City, ID 83714 A 21+ establishment • Valid ID required Contemporary fine art gallery, performance venue, and cultural center Boise & Treasure Valley, located in Garden City, ID

Event Details

PEDRO THE LION w/ Squirrel Flower

Duck Club & Neurolux Present:
with Squirrel Flower

Visual Arts Collective (VAC)

$22 adv / $25 door

get tix @

Pedrothelion Rr 2024 Highres 1634

Early into Santa Cruz, the poignant third album in David Bazan’s ongoing musical memoir of his
sometimes-uncanny life, he discovers the Beatles. He is the new kid from Arizona in a new
school in the famous California coastal town where his dad has accepted another post at a Bible
college. He and his first friend there, Matt, are sitting on the carpet in Matt’s little bedroom,
flipping through the records bequeathed by his father, when Bazan spots a familiar cover—The
White Album, known only from a church documentary that warned children of the Satanic
secrets of “Revolution 9.” Play it backwards, the propaganda said, and it would offer a
command: “Turn me on, dead man.”
So, of course, the kids played it forward and were fascinated by the sound, by the imagination,
by the act of consecrated creativity far outside of Christian rock. Bazan was 13. “Treading water
on the open ocean/Then you threw me out a life ring,” he sings, the smile obvious just through
the sound as the beat picks up like a racing pulse, more than three decades later. “All I needed
was a little help from a friend.” That is the moment where, in many ways, the remarkable songs
of Pedro the Lion begin to take shape.
In 2019, after a 15-year break filled with solo records and side-projects, Bazan returned to the
moniker under which he had become one of indie rock’s most identifiable voices and incisive
songwriters, Pedro the Lion. He sort of stumbled into 2019’s Phoenix, a charged chronicle of his
childhood there, while spending the night with his grandparents during a tour stop. But he soon
understood that unpacking his peripatetic youth, where his music minister father shifted around
the country like a Marine moving bases, was helpful, healing, and maybe even interesting. The
gripping Havasu followed in 2022. Bazan was onto something, untangling all the ways his past
had both shaped and misshaped his present inside some of his best songs ever.
That past truly begins to become the present on Santa Cruz, the most fraught and frank album yet
in a planned five-album arc; this one covers a little less than a decade, from just after he turned
13 until he turns toward adulthood around 21. These songs ripple with the anxiety and energy of
teenage awakening—of hearing rock ’n’ roll, of understanding that independent music exists, of
making out with an older schoolmate in deepest secret, of falling in love, of finally starting to
understand that in order to be yourself you’re going to need to be something other than your
parents’ vision of you. It is the rawest, most affecting and affirming album Pedro the Lion has
ever made.
Santa Cruz begins with a prayer that feels like a dirge, a synth-led funeral march to another town
where Bazan knows no one. “If I lay it down/And I keep my eyes on you,” he moans, steeling
himself through self-sacrifice. “It’ll all work out.” But when he arrives in Santa Cruz to begin
eighth grade, the self-flagellation comes quickly, Bazan lecturing himself for the lameness of the
neon-green backpack he picked out in Phoenix and the Christian rock that is his lifeblood. For
decades now, Bazan has been known for his music’s deliberate pace, often linked to slowcore.
Here, however, he renders detailed images in rapid-fire waves, his voice stapled atop the quick
rhythm like never before in order to capture his nerves as he learns there might be life outside of
his family’s Christian fiefdom—apocrypha, whispers of sex, mere games of ping-pong.
But every time stability seems to appear during these 11 songs, the family is off to another job.
By ninth grade, amid the metronomic mile markers of “Tall Pines,” they are headed for little
Paradise, where there are dreams of drum sets and clandestine shirtless make-out sessions when
his parents are away. With the stirring “Don’t Cry Now,” as close to a dance track as Pedro the
Lion has ever made, they’re bound for Seattle, where Bazan found his own fledgling music
scene, deepening friendships, and the dawn rays of what would become his future.
When his family splits for California yet again, he stays behind, living with a friend just so he
can graduate from the place where he’s become so invested in drums, guitars, and songs that he’s
barely maintained his grades. The day after he graduates, he stuffs everything he owns into
plastic garbage bags and heads south with his mom, returning to the family flock, now in
Modesto. “You sweetly slept in the passenger seat/I gripped the wheel, messed up inside,” he
sings of his mother during “Parting,” his voice a true-to-life admixture of love and longing, of
devotion and doubt.
The six-month stay in Modesto, though, would prove to be among the most transformative
moments of his life, the slow-motion catapult that sent him into right now. After he quits selling
vacuum cleaners to sad women, he nabs a gig at a guitar store. That’s where he hears a crisp
piece of lo-fi wizardry from a local Modesto band, a moment that feels almost like a
Beatles-sized revelation, a permission slip that says he can, in fact, make music on a scale as
small as he wants. He writes the first Pedro the Lion songs there, and, in the cathartic and
gorgeous climax of “Modesto,” vows to return to Seattle, to be in a band, to fall in love, to be
himself. Its successor, “Spend Time,” feels like some skeletal and celebratory arena-rock anthem,
with incandescent harmonies and sharp harmonics and slicing riffs. Back in Seattle, “back in his
room, drumming with Paul,” he is on the precipice of the rest of his life, the life that you now
know as a listener.
When Bazan began considering the times and the songs that would soon become Santa Cruz, he
thought about fictionalizing it all. He could break with the narratives of Phoenix and Havasu to
give himself and everyone else in the story some critical distance. These events are not old news,
after all, and he worried about untangling the active threads of the rather recent past from right
now. And would it seem like he was scolding his parents, two people trying to raise kids the best
they knew how? The result does not feel like blame. It feels like redemption, like finding the way
forward for yourself, however it happens. “Your grief is not a burden,” Bazan beautifully sings in
one of the final verses. “It’s energy.” And it’s currently powering one of the most real, riveting,
and powerful song cycles in memory, happening right now.

Squirrel Flower

Squirrel Flower

The music Ella Williams makes as Squirrel Flower has always communicated a strong sense of place. Her self-released debut EP, 2015’s early winter songs from middle america, was written during her first year living in Iowa, where the winter months make those of her hometown, Boston, seem quaint by comparison. Since that first offering, Squirrel Flower amassed a fanbase beyond the Boston DIY scene and has released two more EPs and two full-lengths. The most recent, Planet (i), was laden with climate anxiety, while the subsequent Planet EP marked an important turning point in Williams’ prolific career; the collection of demos was the first self-produced material she’d released in some time. With a renewed confidence as a producer, she helmed her new album Tomorrow’s Fire at Drop of Sun Studios in Asheville alongside storied engineer Alex Farrar.
Before Tomorrow’s Fire, Squirrel Flower might’ve been labeled something like “indie folk,” but this is a rock record, made to be played loud. As if to signal this shift, the album opens with the soaring “i don’t use a trash can,” a re-imagining of the first ever Squirrel Flower song. Williams returns to her past to demonstrate her growth as an artist and to nod to those early shows, when her voice, looped and minimalistic, had the power to silence a room. Lead singles “Full Time Job” and “When a Plant is Dying,” narrate the universal desperation that comes with living as an artist and pushing up against a world where that’s a challenging thing to be. The frustration in Williams’ lyrics is echoed by the music’s uninhibited, ferocious production. “There must be more to life/ Than being on time,” she sings on the latter’s towering chorus. Lyrics like that one are fated to become anthemic, and Tomorrow’s Fire overflows with them. “Doing my best is a full time job/ But it doesn’t pay the rent” Williams sings on “Full Time Job” over careening feedback, her steady delivery imposing order over a song that is, at its heart, about a loss of control.
Closing track “Finally Rain” speaks to the ambiguity of being a young person staring down climate catastrophe. The last verse is an homage to Williams’ relationship with her loved ones — ‘We won’t grow up.’ A stark realization, but also a manifesto. To be resolutely committed to a life of not ‘growing up,’ not losing our wonder while we’re still here.