Saturday night I was privileged enough to witness a fantastic show with The Books. This duo is probably among my top 20 favorite bands. Sadly, I feel they don't quite have the recognition they deserve. But to be fair, they're an acquired taste and usually people ask me who that is when I talk about them. But once you're into them you can really appreciate their fantastic musicianship and crisp production quality. For those of you wanting a new musical experience, they can be heard best on nice speakers and turned up really loud.
The duo consists of two men named Nick and Paul, who live, play mainly a guitar(also bass) and cello along with their music that is largely an eclectic collection of samples mixed in with music. I had never looked up YouTube videos of The Books because I wanted to experience the show with no bias. They both sit and play along to their music with videos of snippets of old handheld camera footage that they largely collect from thrift stores and the like-which they also create. So if you can imagine, you're witnessing a long artistic piece of music and video. When leaving the venue I felt as if I had just watched a fantastic movie. My brows furrowed and my head slightly tilted as I walked out of the venue thinking: "Damn, that was really, really good."
Earlier that day, since they were playing at Western Washington University, they put on a free lecture at the university. Naturally, I was there and curious on what they'd share with us. It took no time at all to see that Nick and Paul were really nice and very knowledgeable guys. They took us through the process of how they wrote a few of their latest pieces of art; both on the musical and visual side. They shared how they came up with the samples they use and how they build songs around them. It really showed me how confident and generous these guys are because they shared tactics and techniques that probably came with lots of trial and error. Valuable tools and tips for anyone looking to make their art their way of living. They then opened it up for questions and even asked us our opinion on whether they should continue like they normally do and master their next album themselves or give it to Bob Ludwig for mastering(who if you don't know, is one of the biggest names out there for mastering). I haven't found many artists that will ask their fans questions. I found the whole experience really inspiring.
I also wanted to mention how excited I was to see Bellingham's very own Pan Pan open for The Books. I've seen them a handful of times and this was by far the best show yet. Having a professional stage set up and an impressive 17ish piece band to march up behind the crowd and make their way to the stage while playing the opening song really made a lasting impression and an impressive way to start the evening. The rest of their set was brilliant and I'm amazed on how solid everything was. Pan Pan rules. Go here to check them out! And here for The Books.
*Title of this post comes from the song: "If Not Now, Whenever" by The Books off their 2005 release Lost And Safe.