Chad VanGaalen is an unassuming, attractive, ordinary looking dude in flannel. But underneath this vanilla looking exterior lurks one of the most creative minds I’ve had the pleasure of seeing at work, in person. One just has to look at VanGaalen’s cover art, all self-illustrated, to get an idea of how far-reaching his imagination is. On tour for his most recent album Shrink Dust, a dreamy, country album, which VanGaalen recorded himself (as with all his previous work), in his home.
VanGaalen had popped on stage for openers Cousins, last song; a band he has said in numerous interviews and on-stage several times, that he is a huge fan of (I caught the tail end of their set and they were indeed excellent).
When VanGaalen, bassist and drummer came on-stage for their set, Jim Beam in hand, VanGaalen picked up his tiny, box-shaped, head-stockless guitar, which was almost comical, contrasting his large frame.
He launched into Cut Off My Hands, his lyrics so literary and vivid, they transport you into the world he’s created within the song, guitar, reverb and rhythm all matching to create an atmosphere that envelopes you. The packed crowd, enthralled, half of them smoking weed. He also tells stories (hopefully fiction) in between songs. Before beginning Lila, he explained the song was dedicated to his dead dog, that hadn’t fully decomposed, and his two daughters demanding memorabilia off the corpse. After the song, the bassist commenting “dude, that’s a really fucked up story”. The entire show was so captivating, that I found it hard to keep coherent notes, not wanting to miss the experience. I found “the rare talent of teans portni gou to a sceantio” in my phone’s notes… Who knows, but it sounds complimentary!
I will wrap up with saying coherently – VanGaalen played a great mix of new and old, told hilarious and odd anecdotes about songs, dedicated Peace is on the Rise to the bad roads of Michigan, and I think myself and everyone else could happily spend all day in VanGaalen’s dystopian, atmospheric world. Release that sci-fi movie you’re working on already!
For an interview with Chad VanGaalen, click here.