Vote For Pedro
Updated: Feb 16, 2020
I remember hearing Pedro the Lion’s “Almost There” in the front seat of my buddy’s mid-nineties Toyota Corolla. We were talking about bands he wanted to introduce me to when suddenly he shushed me, turned the volume up, and intently stared at the cassette deck as he earnestly lip synced the bittersweet half sung, half screamed lyrics, “…it’s on the tip of my tongue, it never goes away, it never comes to stay…” The track ended chaotically only to have the next song start with a deliberate and bright sounding tones with lyrics about “Mr. Hole Fixin’ Man.” Those two songs served as my introduction to Dave Bazan. This would lead me to attend at least five Pedro shows in and around Yakima, WA between 1997 and 1999. The only distinct memory I have of Dave is a remarkable one. The venue was a Christian youth center and the opener was Destro, a two-piece noise metal band. They were heckled almost their entire set with cries of “You suck” and “Get off the stage.” The Destro duo was distraught and literally slid off the stage with their shoulders slung forward in a mopey posture that would’ve made the Hunchback of Notre Dame proud.
Dave took the stage and immediately set about making things right. As his band was setting up, he stood at the microphone red-faced and trembling as he chided the young, presumably Christian hecklers for their lack of Christlikeness. To a 17-year old kid it seemed like Dave was reenacting Jesus’ flipping of the money changers tables in the Temple, but instead of declaring the venue a house of prayer for all people, Dave asserted that it was a house of music for all people.
Dave’s early musical career as Pedro the Lion, like his songs “Almost There” and “Whole”, expertly weaves a needle between self-discovery and self-doubt through the tapestry of his personal faith journey. The character in the Whole EP (1997) Is addicted to heroin, but in the end finds comfort in Mr. Hole Fixin’ Man, while in Winners (2000), the “Christian” brother is befallen by pride in his moral appearance while the drunk, “bad” brother rejoices that his tumultuous life saved him from a similar fate to his brother’s. Finally, for many Christian fans, it seemed that Dave and Pedro formally left the Christian music sphere when he made adultery a religious experience by singing, “Gideon is in the drawer…oh my sweet rapture, I hear Jesus calling me home” on Control’s second track. (2002). Any controversy or confusion surrounding Bazan’s spiritual leanings were wiped away by Achilles’ Heel (2004) “Foregone Conclusions” with the lyric, “You were too busy steering the conversation toward the Lord, To hear the voice of the spirit begging you to shut the f*** up…” Brilliantly, Bazan closes Achilles’, the last album before Pedro’s hiatus, with words that seem to perfectly capture how many Christian’s viewed him, “My old man always swore that hell would have no flame, just a front row seat, to watch your true love pack her things and drive away.” Like the lyric, Pedro would drive away and disappear until 2017.