Last night's performance at the Doug Fir Lounge was the first time I've seen Joe Pug accompanied by a band. This gave Pug's songs a new dimension, and I am still undecided if I prefer them, or Pug's original stripped-down folk versions. It really is a a toss-up. Joe Pug's songs are so richly poetic they nearly defy description, and can only be compared to early Dylan-- right down to heavy use of harmonica. Seriously, the Dylan comparison is well-deserved, Pug's lyrics could easily be read as poetry, and then only enhanced when one learns of their musical accompaniment. Pug seems to be from a different time, someone who would feel at home at Woodstock, or an impromptu performance at a college campus, surrounded by the smell of smoldering Draft cards. If you think lyricism is dead in the Age of Bieber, go see Joe Pug and have your faith restored. Begin with his stunning EP "Nation of Heat", and I am confident you will seek out the rest. Most of Pug's all-too-brief set came from that album. I guess I have to think of it as a French meal, a tiny portion of finely crafted decadence. I suspect that the food metaphor was likely prompted by my mind still being blown by the quality of food at the Doug Fir. There are plenty of concert venues that have menus of various sizes, but none that I would rate higher than "if you want to be first in line for the door and you don't have time to make anything before you leave, or are hungry between sets, you won't hate having eaten there," and the places that merit such faint-praise are few. The Doug Fir Lounge on the other hand is a destination unto itself. I honestly can not wait until I have another opportunity to see a show there, because it truly is a place to enjoy spending a full evening, feed your body upstairs in the restaurant, then go downstairs and feed your soul with music. I also must note the accessibility of the venue, and the friendliness of my escorts through the long way around the building to the downstairs entrance, and the venue's open floor allowed me to park myself up front. Great food, great music, and prime, easy to access seating, it really doesn't get any better than that.
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