Chez Shaffner

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

José González at Avalon (Boston)

The stage is crowded. Drum set, two large synthesizers, electric guitar and bass resting in their cradles, eight microphone stands, speakers upon speakers. The stage promises bombast. It promises noise.

Two spotlights train on a single man, seated at the front of the stage, acoustic guitar on his right knee. Plucking the bass line with his thumb, thumping the percussion with the heel of his palm, delivering melody in the confluence of his voice and reverberating strings. An orchestra emerges from those two simple instruments: intense and rich, better than bombast, more powerful than noise.

The lone musician is José González, and I came to Avalon tonight to see him. The thin crowd milling about near the stage twenty minutes before his set is here for the same reason. Over the next hour, hundreds more will arrive, eschewing the opening act for the headliner, Zero 7, of which José González is also a current member. Shame on them for missing his act, though the sparseness allows me an unobstructed view from twenty feet.

A few months ago I bought The Chillout Sessions 2006, by Ministry of Sound. (As of this writing, Amazon has only 5 copies left, so I recommend buying now, if you're into downtempo). José González's version of "Heartbeats" is the opening track--you may have heard it an advertisement for the Sony Bravia. That track alone made me hesitate when perusing the events calendar at yesterday. After listening to Mr. González's myspace profile, I decided it was worth $17 to see him live.

For ten seconds between songs he tunes his guitar; even that sounds beautiful. "Slow Moves" is especially awe-inspiring: close your eyes and your brain paints a picture of a three-piece band, open them and find only José González, squeezing more sound from that guitar than you believe possible. Later, after Zero 7 launches its high energy, synth-rich set, one where thrilling electric guitar solos are sometimes wrought through the pounding of keys, José González emerges from the wings. He takes his place again and sings "Futures," the band's current single. It works. Alternating lead vocals between the bounding, skipping, and enthusiasticSia Furler to the quiet intensity of José González, Zero 7 strikes a lovely balance.

See them together if you can, or find a way to see José González on his ongoing solo tour. It was worth a lot more than $17 to me…



At 12:19 PM, Blogger Veritas99 said...

Hot damn, so that's the song/guy.

That Sony Bravia commercial rocked. Youtube has some great clips from behind the scenes ( Apparently, they launched over 250,000 real bouncy balls down a SanFran street.

Looks like ITunes is getting another $.99 from me.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger NormalGuyNormalGirl said...

Cool YouTube link... I should get a cut of that .99, don't you think? I should talk to Apple about that. :)

At 2:47 AM, Anonymous Martina said...

The stage is crowded.


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