iron and wine [2008]

Bimbo’s 365 Club
San Francisco, CA
5 October 2008

I was not prepared for Sam Beam’s crazy, spot-on resemblance to Zach Galifianakis. It certainly didn’t help things that Beam began his solo set with literally 10 minutes of stand up comedy.

In town for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass that same day, and having just played in LA the night before, Beam was admittedly exhausted. But not too exhausted to lead the crowd through a hilarious field of sarcasm, self-deprecation and Cock humor.

Uh huh. The kindly, bearded, sage prince of indie folk had the audience spit-taking with belly laughs at tales of, among other things, his hometown University of South Carolina and their mascot, the Gamecocks. Apparently, all of their t-shirts and assorted paraphernalia read “Go Cocks”, something that a prepubescent Beam thought was pretty hilarious. And judging from the crowd’s (and my) reaction, it still is.

What about the music, you ask? Well, after Beam wrapped up (temporarily) his comedy routine, he proceeded to stop us all dead in our tracks with his downright magical voice. I’ve been listening to his music with a careful ear for 5+ years, but I was not prepared for what I heard.

As best as I can describe it, his words wrap themselves around you and deliver you somewhere else entirely. It does not seem to be the voice of just one person, there is such depth of tone and pitch.

Yes, he was tired to the point of deliriousness, as self-advertised. Yes, he made quite a few mistakes throughout the night. But none of this mattered. Beam took us all through a wild ride of seemingly-contradictory emotions, constantly straddling the line between sarcasm and sincerity, comedy and poetry.

And he did it all on 3 hours of sleep.

Long live the prince.