Gomez: Change and Stasis


Blind Pilot

The Fillmore

San Francisco, CA

July 31, 2009

The possibility of reinvention, the capacity for change, is not only the foundation of hope for a better life but is inherently human and intrinsic to our perception and experience of life. I’ve been thinking a lot about change as entropy sinks into my skin and I notice the creaking of my bones growing a little bit louder as the weeks, months and years sail past. I am not the same person I was even seven years ago - literally. Many scientists believe that the molecules of every cell in your body are in a constant state of flux and regenerate every 7 years- which means in 7 years, I could be George Clooney. Of course, if there wasn’t constant change, there wouldn’t be life at all. This is part of the ecstatic quality of music and the celebration of life in attending live shows. Music is not static, it unveils itself to us over time- during which the world is spinning, evolving, changing, along with the song and myself.

When I left the concert last night, I was mostly trying to puzzle out why Gomez is not more popular. They are tremendous song-writers and talented musicians. They sing songs about infatuation, lost love, living in the moment, quitting your job, bad relationships, good relationships and their music includes elements of hard rock, folk, psychedelia, blues, jazz. They are occasionally classified as a “jam band” but are far closer to the “indie/college” music scene. From one song to the next, and sometimes within each Gomez song, there is the possibility for quick change of tempo, key or even musical genre- yet the reinvention within and between songs is all done rather seamlessly. And their songs can stay in your head for weeks.

Before Gomez, Blind Pilot opened the show with a very nice set of easy-on-the-ears folk rock tunes. Blind Pilot is definitely an up and comer. Their lead singer has a warm and appealing voice and the songs are well written, but they lack a bit of a spark. It was all a little too easy to listen to and not quite engaging- despite the trumpet and xylophone. I really love their song “The Story I Heard” which I can listen to over and over and hopefully this foreshadows a bright future. They are a band with great potential that I hope they realize.

Gomez is definitely a music critic’s band. They have repeatedly received the highest plaudits and awards during the 13 years that they have been together. I think part of their popularity problem and inability to really break through is that they have not been able to capture the energy of their live performances in their recordings. The highlights of last night’s performance were the current hit “Airstream Driver,” “Ruff Stuff,” “Devil Will Ride” and “Get Myself Arrested.” If you follow the links to these recordings, they are only half the quality, energy and excitement of the live versions last night. The reinvented arrangements added the extra spark that could change Gomez from a critic’s darling to a popular darling. But a part of me also doesn’t want that and wants Gomez to remain my own secret that no one’s heard of, just like a part of me doesn’t want to change and get any older. And that’s intrinsically human also.

For the Gomez neophytes: the most “pop”ular tunes “See The World,” “Girlshapedlovedrug,” and “How We Operate.”

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