Brian: As you might be aware, Mark Kozelek played last Sunday at Mao Livehouse. The review at hand isn’t of that show; it’s of one that took place May 16th, 2006 in Gainesville, Florida, at Common Grounds, then the town’s home base for rock music.
So is this review relevant? Perhaps not. Nevertheless, I hope it provides a neat little sequel to certain other dickish behavior I’ve experienced that I felt compelled to document and many people read about. And hopefully – God, I hope – it provides a flipside to a very good show everyone who saw him at Mao Livehouse experienced.
At the time I was working for Common Grounds, putting up posters of upcoming events. I was flabbergasted when I saw that some guy with a funny name was charging $15USD for a show.
You see, this was Gainesville, Florida, a punk rock town, and it was rare for shows to scrape the upside of ten bucks. The idea that a solo act (found out later he was accompanied by a second guitarist) would charge that much was inspiration enough for my good buddy Dan Fitzpatrick and I to check out the show.
Take it away Dan Fitzpatrick!
Whaddya mean fifteen bucks is too much? You think this bouffant pays for itself?
Mark Kozelek: indie visionary, mediocre showman, amateur human being
I saw the ex-Red House Painter do his “solo” thing Stateside in 2006 . I walked into a normally hopping venue and was surprised to see the entire audience seated at Kozelek’s feet, breath bated.
While I sat Indian-style on the Common Grounds floor, I did not feel that his airy string pluckery set him apart from the likes of Iron and Wine or Nick Drake, but his stage presence inspired its share of laughs, pity, and anger. I would have merely forgotten the Sun Kil Moon singer’s show if Kozelek had stayed distant and brusque. But no. He was an unrepentant prick to the audience, and there’s no excuse for that.
Kozelek stopped playing for several minutes and accosted three guys in the back of the joint until they left “to go watch some baseball or something” (MK’s words to the gentlemen who turned out to be the opening band.) He later threatened to bludgeon an audience member with his guitar for laughing during one of his songs. After that, his sideman left the stage. Kozelek played one more song, castigated the audience some more, and walked offstage.
Would I see MK again? Almost certainly, but for the same reason I’d watch Armageddon a second time. You might just see an asteroid/sun/moon explode right before your eyes, but only if the music doesn’t put you to sleep first.
Mark Kozelek - smiley and approachable are his middle names
Jenny Loh braved Kozelek’s temper to see his show at Mao Livehouse.
In my lifetime, I have not seen an asteroid explode in front of my eyes. If only I was so lucky. But I did have the pleasure of having multiple, might I say, pleasant standing catnaps in Mao Livehouse. This has never happened. Might I say that I was jetlagged and that I was happily going to sleep at 8pm every day. So thank you MK for helping me catch up on some much-needed sleep.
Kozelek may not have been at his most charming but his boozy shtick got enough laughs from the half-filled auditorium. I don’t remember particular details about his stage presence, abrasive or otherwise- perhaps Shanghai’s attentive show goers were more to his taste and he was in a mellower mood on this occasion.
Even though his lyrics were well-inspired and deeply felt, the slow, soporific balladeering became somewhat repetitive after a while. My companion though, who had been a fan of the soulful songster since her sophomore days was taken back to her days as a dreamy, moody college kid by MK’s slow and subtle stylings.
My guess is that most listeners probably have a ‘ballad threshold’ which will determine whether they find Kozelek enchanting or sleep-inducing. That is, if they don’t get kicked out of the gig first.
WORDS: Brian Offenther, Dan Fitzpatrick, LOH