Paleo came through the Tin Can this week, along with San Diego's Pilots, Free Moral Agents and Wild Pack of Canaries.
Frontman David Strackany of Paleo began playing with no introduction, which felt appropriate enough to an intimate room of only a handful of people -- he was competing with the chatter of people casually watching from the bar.
The irony is that Paleo needs no introduction; at least in some circles, he's considered a modern day Bob Dylan. A prolific songwriter with a staggering catalog of songs, some of which he must not even remember he once wrote. He dresses plainly -- black pants and a T-shirt -- yet his eccentricity is revealed in his philosophical musings. This is especially notable on his latest release, Fruit of the Spirit. He's a mix of spiritual hippie, Aaron Weiss of mewithoutYou and the scratchy vocals of Ezra Furman and the Harpoons. After three straight years of touring, he seems unfazed by the crowd, unaffected by their interest or lack thereof. His guitar reads "Give Up and Die," a little shade of sarcasm after years of knowing what asking that question feels like.
For much of the show, his eyes remained closed with his nose in the air; perched on his toes to catch the mike, he seems content to swim inside his songs. "Pharaoh" takes a somber note as he sings, "Oh, I will struggle for the rest of my life," which bleeds into another bleak moment, "Mournful and Slow" except this time, the song is set to a quick pace. A juxtaposition with the obliterating misery of his lyrics. He sweetly sang, "Is this the life I was made for?" just as his guitar string broke. He then took a break to fix it ,with his first remark directed at the crowd, a joke: "Why don't seagulls fly by the bay? Then they'd be bagels."
The three-piece rounded out the night with a few more songs, including, "World's Smallest Violin," another clever tune about things not being all that bad. They ended the night by repeating, "Everybody is the same inside," finishing with a quick thank-you over gaps of claps and bands shuffling gear about.
As a Paleo fan, I thought the set was wonderful, until I introduced myself to Strackany to thank him. I was uncomfortably met with blank-faced confusion by the frontman. His lack of, well, any social courtesy was bizarre to say the least. I'd heard that he is not the most personable character, so whether he was simply tired or disinterested was unclear. His lyrics suggest he exists somewhere outside of all of us where wisdom and madness collide -- and it's for that reason that I can at least accept his strange disposition, even when I don't completely understand it.