Last week I took the time to talk up what would become David Bowie’s final record Blackstar. I did not imagine at the time that this week I would be following that unbridled enthusiasm with an equal measure of sorrow for his loss. Whether you are a casual or passionate fan of music, this is an absence that will be felt deeply and for some time. Bowie’s talent and refusal to compromise his vision accelerated the rate at which we were willing to accept radical change in both music and culture. When we look back on his body of work it seems clear now that each new sound and accompanying persona presaged the next. This is not to say that he had some grand scheme for this rapidly rotating band of characters. Rather it seems that each new face opened for Bowie the space in which the next one would evolve. His true strength was the authenticity with which he inhabited these roles. Each one was not an attempt to hide himself from the world but a means bringing some next genuine aspect of his creative drive to the surface. The show worked because it was grounded in an honest place.
My personal experience of Bowie was that of the casual rock radio exposure until I was given a copy of Hunky Dory during my freshman year of college. That record set off a passionate accumulation of his records (whenever I could scrape together enough money to afford one). One of Bowie’s records was always a safe bet, you knew you were going to get a story and a cohesive sound. That sound might be radically different from the previous sounds you had grown to love, but Bowie demanded the benefit of the doubt. For a long time, the Bowie of the Berlin era and his collaborations with Brian Eno was the version that I returned to the most often. There is a questing experimentation on those records that has seen its mirror in Blackstar. It shockingly obvious now that both periods were times of uncertainty for Bowie.
The release of Blackstar was masterful in itself. Bowie made one last album not just for his fans but for himself as well. On Blackstar you can hear the questions that occupy his mind. He knows where he is headed but he does not know where he is going. The last song on his last record is titled “I Can’t Give Everything Away.” Typical to Bowie we’re not sure if he’s holding back part of himself or his last great insight. In the end he has left us with one last persona and one last mystery.
This Wednesday the Columbus based folk ensemble Saintseneca will play Gasa Gasa. This will make for an excellent night of music. Their 2015 record Such Things was quite good and has marked a period of growth for the band. Come prepared to move your feet, this will be a high energy affair.
To Do This Week
Tonight the Radiators begin a three-night stand at Tips. On Saturday the Future Elevators will be at Gasa Gasa. Sunday night check out Guts Club at the Saturn Bar. On Monday check out Killing Joke at Republic. Finally, on Wednesday the excellent Saintseneca will be at Gasa Gasa.
To Listen This Week
Portugal, the Man covered Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” via CoS
Courtney Barnett has a new track out revealing her ramen addiction via Youtube
Guts Club has released a live session via Daytrotter
On Tuesday the 19th Bonnaroo will announce the festivals 15th anniversary lineup during Conan O’Brian’s show on TBS at 10 p.m. Central.