Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy @ The Fillmore, San Francisco- March 30th, 2009

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy

with Pillars & Tongues

The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA

March 30th, 2009


You know, I have unrealistic expectations of music.

I imagine there’s supposed to be this community built up around albums and musicians; you may have gathered as a reader of this website that this is a community I love very much and I take very seriously (most of the time). I have what you might say is an un-natural attachment to music, this attachment is so important and vital to me that I actually write about it for free. I think it’s because I don’t have a whole lot of passion for many other things; when you find something as authentic as the feeling music creates inside you, then you just gravitate towards that and life works itself out in the meantime.

There’s a strong bond that’s supposed to be formed between artist and listener; probably because when it’s made from the heart there’s a whole set of real emotions attached to creating music and then performing it- which is why I attend concerts in the first place, why I more or less “get off” on it.

Will Oldham is so acutely aware of the bond he’s created with his fans, so in tune with his art and the feeling it gives that there’s no doubt in my mind it’s just as amazing an experience for him to let us into his world as it is for us to let him in to ours. (That’s a pretty awkward sentence but I can’t re-word it to actively convey what it is I’m trying to say; I guess I’m muddling the whole thing with too many words…)

Anyway, Monday night at The Fillmore was one of those moments when the circuit was completed- performer and audience in communion as one. I’ve read that Will Oldham created his Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy character out of the necessity for creating a space where he can step outside his normal world and “be” an actor while on stage, in order to deliver the best performance possible. Says the Bonnie persona in a recent interview:

I think it was just created by the fact that there was “somebody” being interacted with that I started to recognize. There were two things… people treating a person as a person but I didn’t know that there was a person yet.

Part actor, part musician, part comedian; Will (or Bonnie) gave the best performance he could possibly bring- he was bright, funny, serious, sad, mellow, excitable- in short, I got what I paid for. And more, courtesy of the superb supporting cast: Cheyenne Mize on vocals and violin, Josh Abrams on bass, Jim White on drums, Emmett Kelly on guitar and Jon Kempf on mandolin. Also, openers Pillars & Tongues helped out on the encore.

No setlist- I was too much into being a fan and enjoying myself to try to keep an accurate list of songs. Someone probably is going to post it on setlist.fm.

I do have pics…

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