The Books at Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

Post Author: Dan Sarna

Apparently the Books-masters of the subtle, patrons of the sublimely gentle- make for an appropriate date. Never before have I felt so uncoupled. Is it that there are two of them and their rapport is rather matrimonial? Or maybe their vibe was more familial than nuptial. I suppose I did feel enmeshed in something warm, cozy, and asexual. And they did play footage of themselves as children. At any rate, we love the Books and the Books love us.

We were approximately one-seventh scenesters, there because so was everyone else, and about four-sevenths devotees craving the promises of meaning and authenticity in this music. The other two-sevenths were our dates. If ratios had tongues, this striking and unusual composition would say: “There just may be something substantial involved”.

They were just the two of them. Nick Zammuto sung delicately and played acoustic guitar exclusively except to wield the remote-control between songs and the bass on “Smells like Content”. Paul de Jong played his “cello-thingy”, cracked jokes (dude is hella funny), and also picked up a bass for “Smells like Content”. The duo was augmented by their precious and timely samples, some pre-recorded and coordinated instrumental tracks, the fiddling of opener Todd Reynolds, and of course their hypnotic visual displays. They even sometimes spoke their own sound-bites-“Three wheee-su-kee soooooodas” – which were well received by our delightful giggles.

They were mellow, playful, quixotic, and self-deprecating (“Sorry, we suck. Our music is almost impossible to play live because we never expected to play it”). We were reverent, on our best behavior, sufficiently stoned (have you seen the ornate interior of San Francisco’s oldest and grandest music hall?) and by all means transfixed in the eye-magnet projections. We were so well behaved we were granted a double encore and we left feeling decisively human.