eef barzelay [2006]

Cafe du Nord
San Francisco, CA
5 November 2006

Alan Sparhawk (of Low) sold me a Clem Snide CD tonight. I’ll back up. I’d missed Eef Barzelay earlier in the year on his first solo tour and this time around, Sparhawk was opening for him with his latest project, Retribution Gospel Choir. Barzelay had just finished his set and I made my way over to the merch table to pick up the live recording CD compilation I’d seen him on my way in. Various CDs were displayed there on the table, but no one was around to make the sale.

I looked around for help, and was contemplating leaving cash behind the table, when Sparhawk walked up and offered to play merchant. After a few minutes of pleasant conversation, I handed him my $10 and I had officially purchased one of my favorite band’s CDs from the lead singer of another of my favorite bands.

Barzelay’s performance (by the way) was amazing. Having seen Clem Snide live numerous times, I was lucky enough to get exactly what I was hoping for: the usual 20% of solo acoustic Barzelay stretched out into an entire set. As much as I love to experience the entire band together, those wonderful moments when the other band members left the stage to Barzelay and his guitar had always been my favorite. So here he was, all alone to tease and delight the adoring crowd with his wit, acoustic skills and that unmistakable lilting voice.

But let’s talk about the part where Barzelay is fucking hilarious. The fact that he’s well aware of this does not diminish the enjoyment of said hilarity. In both his lyrics and his delivery, Barzelay has the remarkable ability to combine ironic humor with raw, bittersweet emotion. Nowhere is this more apparent than in “Ballad of Bitter Honey”, in which he assumes the first person voice of a soul-searching hip-hop video vixen.

If you’re familiar with Clem Snide’s music and lyrics, you already know about this flair for the funny. What you may not be familiar with is Barzelay’s ability to work a crowd. Barzelay is the ironic vegas of indie rock. His tone, demeanor, desire to interact with the audience, and perhaps most importantly, his ability to put on a complete performance, separate him from many in the indie rock world.

So don’t miss Clem Snide, or Barzelay if he tours solo again, and enjoy the wit, the charm and the beautiful music.