Home Live Review Snapshots: David Wax Museum @ Songbyrd Music House — 12/27/23

Snapshots: David Wax Museum @ Songbyrd Music House — 12/27/23

Snapshots: David Wax Museum @ Songbyrd Music House — 12/27/23
David Wax Musuem performs at Songbyrd Music House on Dec. 27, 2023. (Photo by Steve Satzberg)

In 2022, David Wax suffered a sudden and inexplicable collapse. Heading for a heart catheterization in his hometown of Columbia, Missouri, he had a revelation. “Lying there on that stretcher the thing that kept running through my mind was: at least we made You Must Change Your Life,” Wax said. “Whatever else happened, I felt at peace because this record exists.”

David Wax Museum has visited DC several times in the past year to spotlight the new record, You Must Change Your Life, released last May via Nine Mile Records. The band most recently appeared at Songbyrd Music House shortly after Christmas, and Parklife DC’s Steve Satzberg was there to photograph the show.

This article is adapted from a press release.

The latest effort from David Wax Museum encapsulates a wildly winding spirit and delivers the past-, present-, and future-tense promises Wax and wife and bandmate Suz Slezak consider their shared purpose as musicians. To borrow lyrics from early highlight “Luanne,” the duo’s life — just like the album — is a shape-shifter, fate-twister, truth-sifter, dream-drifter, seam-ripper.

In this way, You Must Change Your Life is fit for a world tilted off its axis, colored by a collective resistance to old norms. Wax and Slezak give listeners permission to answer the whispers around and within them — “Be patient / Don’t tell me that you’re unworthy” — affirming and exhorting the pursuit of new ways of living.

Performing at Songbyrd Music House on Dec. 27, David Wax Museum performed roughly 16 songs, about 10 of which were tracks from You Must Change Your Life, including “Be Patient,” “Best Lover,” and the title track.

Watch the official music video for “You Must Change Your Life” by David Wax Museum on YouTube:

David Wax Museum blends the ancient and ever-relevant rhythms of traditional Mexican music with amber pop hues, their unabashed rock riffs emanating an air of AM radio circa 1975, all tethered together by seductive harmonies. It’s a seamless tapestry of boundless curiosity, an artful display of what Wax frames as “the lines blurring and dissolving between musical cultures and eras.” As it humbly beckons listeners to fulfill its title, You Must Change Your Life sounds out a thousand minor- and major-key ways one can do just that.

For Wax, music has guided every step he holds sacred. After graduating at the top of his class at Harvard, he wandered off an academic path to southern Mexico, finding what he calls “a clear before/after moment in my life.” There, he studied folk music “at the feet of the masters” and internalized structures and rhythms that continue to drive the band today.

He and Suz Slezak fell in love on their first national tour, setting in motion a future full of vivid waking dreams. Together (now with their two children in tow) they’ve logged 1,500 shows and been globally recognized by the highest tier of tastemakers — Newport Folk Festival, CBS This Morning, NPR Tiny Desk, and NPR World Cafe to name a few.

Here are some photos of David Wax Museum performing at Songbyrd Music House on Dec. 27, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Steve Satzberg.

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Water Bears opened the show! Here are a few photos of Water Bears performing at Songbyrd Music House on Dec. 27. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Steve Satzberg.

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