As if in reaction to the recent trend of so-called emo-core bands turning all mellow on us (see the latest from Get Up Kids, or The Promise Ring), David Bazan, who pretty much is Pedro the Lion, has shifted his focus from a singer-songwriter approach back to working with a full touring band, giving some hope to those people who decry the genre’s chronic lack of exciting live acts.
Backed by three-piece support, the bearded Seattle-based musician — whose slack, offhand vocal style recalls Bob Mould — employed a very deliberate story-telling tact at the two-thirds full El Rey, using long and slow passages of anxious, guitar-dominated musical doom and gloom to accent his words self-doubt, Christian inner-conflict, and social criticism.
“Look, you earned your wings,” Bazan sang in the typically acerbic “Magazine,” one of many in the hour-long show taken from the new Pedro the Lion album “Control” (Jade Tree). “Are you angel now or a vulture?”
However, the band, which featured talented “slocore” artist TW Walsh on guitar and keyboards, was only rarely able to lift the mopey songs out of their slumber.
The brooding and lascivious “Rapture,” which details a forbidden affair, slowly built to a ringing, Husker Du-like climax, while the new wave-y “Indian Summer” turned on an unexpectedly catchy chorus.
More often, though, the songs dragged along at a too-deliberate pace that left the crowd noticeably underwhelmed. The title track from 2000’s “Winners Never Quit” album was powered by impressive work from drummer Casey Foubert and was one of the show’s best entries.