Sun Kil Moon is the performing moniker of Mark Kozelek, a singer, songwriter, guitarist, record producer, storyteller, and poet. Mark is originally from Massillon, Ohio (near Youngstown) but moved out to Atlanta and then on to San Francisco where he formed the band Red House Painters (1989). Following the shelving of one of the band’s albums, they parted ways with the record label and Mark began performing under the moniker, Sun Kil Moon. Mark Kozelek has released more than 30 albums over the past three decades with the most recent being All The Best, Isaac Hayes (2020). His music has been featured numerous times in film and television. Mark is a classically trained guitarist and his music is often described as folk rock, slowcore, indie rock, and spoken word. It feels dark, yet hauntingly beautiful.
Mark is known for his direct approach when engaging the crowd. He has no reservations about calling out unruly hecklers in the audience, or inviting fans onstage to perform alongside him. Much of the show was dedicated to spoken word. He has an incredible talent for intertwining storytelling with music. He spent as much time performing ‘spoken word’ and conversing with the audience as he did singing and playing his guitar. One thing to consider when listening to Sun Kil Moon perform, He is a storyteller and thus you should focus on the story that is being told. That is where is the real magic happens. Mark is truly a brilliant artist, guitarist, singer, songwriter and poet, and to honor his craft, I’ll provide a short story in prose below.
ON THE WAY TO SUN KIL MOON
6:30AM ON FEBURARY 1ST.
DAMN, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!
MY PHONE SAYS SO, BUT SO DOES MY BODY. WHY DOES 72 DEGREES INSIDE IN THE WINTER, NOT FEEL LIKE 72 DEGREES INSIDE IN THE SUMMER? I WONDER IF THERE IS A SCIENCE-BASED, MOLECULE-VIBRATING, QUARKY-SPACED, BIOLOGICAL REASON FOR THIS. ACTUALLY, I DON’T REALLY CARE. I DO APPRECIATE BLANKETS THOUGH.
DAMN, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!
ON THE PELOTON TAKING A RIDE THROUGH PUERTO RICO, IN MY BASEMENT, AND MY MIND IS STUCK. AM I GOING TO SUN KIL MOON TONIGHT OR NOT? I JUST FOUND OUT ABOUT THIS SHOW ON FRIDAY. IT’S PART OF MY BRAND, MY SHTICK, MY SPIEL, MY REPUTATION TO KNOW THIS STUFF. I’M GUESSING IT’S MORE OF A POP-UP SHOW, THAT POPPED UP, YA KNOW. NOW IT’S BEEN TAKING UP REAL ESTATE IN MY MIND. I CAN’T GET IT OUT OF MY MIND. I KNOW IT’S A GONNA BE ONE OF KIND, A UNIQUE, DARK, RAW, REAL, DIAMOND IN THE RUFF TYPE OF FIND. I MAY BE GOING. I THINK I AM GOING. SO LONG AS THERE ARE TICKETS LEFT ONLINE. THERE ARE. THAT’S A SIGN. OK, THEN FINE. I’M GOING. WHAT TIME?
A FEW MORE HOURS UNTIL THE SHOW. A FEW MORE LONG HOURS UNTIL THE SHOW. A FEW MORE VERY LONG HOURS UNTIL THE SHOW. A FEW MORE NEVER-ENDING VERY LONG HOURS UNTIL THE SHOW.
DAMN! IT’S COLD OUTSIDE.
I PARK OUTSIDE. NO, LITERALLY, I PARK OUTSIDE THE FRONT DOOR AND I GET THAT ADRENALINE RUSH. YOU KNOW THE FEELING YOU GET WHEN YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A SINGLE SPOT IN A SEA OF CARS AND TRUCKS, THEN SUDDENLY YOU CATCH THE UNMISTAKABLE WHITE HALO OF THE REVERSE LIGHTS – IN THE FRONT ROW. LITERALLY, I PARKED OUTSIDE THE FRONT DOOR. I JUST WON THE DAY AND NOW I’M PLAYING WITH HOUSE MONEY.
SO FAR SO GOOD, BUT WHY IS THERE NO LINE? THE STREET IS EMPTY. IT’S DESERTED. DOORS ARE AT 7PM. WHY IS THERE NO LINE? THERE SHOULD ALWAYS BE A LINE. OR AT LEAST AN EMPLOYEE. OR BOX OFFICE. WHY IS THE SIDEWALK CHALKBOARD WIPED CLEAN. WRONG DAY? WRONG TIME? WRONG PLACE? IS IT BECAUSE OF THE COLD? YEAH, DEFINITELY THE COLD. SERIOUSLY THOUGH. WHERE IS THE LINE? I MUST CHECK THE EMAIL. FEBRUARY 1, DOORS ARE 7PM, RUMBA CAFÉ, COLUMBUS, OHIO. EMAIL CHECKS OUT. IT IS DEFINITELY COLD OUTSIDE.
I’M STANDING UNDER THE MARQUEE IN FRONT OF THREE DOORS, SIDE BY SIDE. THE DOOR ON THE RIGHT HAS AN ARROW POINTING TO THE LEFT, THE DOOR IN THE MIDDLE HAS AN ARROW POINTING TO THE LEFT, AND THE DOOR ON THE LEFT HAS A SIGN THAT SAYS, “NO PHOTOGRAPHY OR VIDEO ALLOWED TONIGHT”. IT’S THE DOOR ON THE LEFT THEN – THE LOCKED DOOR WITHOUT ANY WINDOWS. KNOCK KNOCK. NO ANSWER. WHY IS THERE NO LINE? DOORS OPEN AT 7PM.
“OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S HAPPENING. HE’S HERE. YOU READY MUTHA F’ERS!” OKAY. I MUST BE AT THE RIGHT PLACE. COMPADRES ARRIVE ON THE SCENE.
DAMN, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE.
AN OLDER GENTLEMAN WEARING A LARGE BLACK COAT, A PAIR OF SNOW BOOTS, DOUBLED-UP OR TRIPLED-UP GLOVES, AND A SCRUFFY WINTER HAT EXITS THROUGH THE MIDDLE DOOR. ONE OF THE TWO DOORS WITH THE ARROW POINTING LEFT. THE MIDDLE DOOR IS THE GATEWAY TO THE RESIDENCE UPSTAIRS. I WILL CALL HIM OLD GUY OR OG. OG CONFIRMS THAT WE WERE INDEED AT THE RIGHT PLACE. HE DOESN’T SAY IT WITH CONTEMPT, BUT WITH PLEASURE. YOU ARE IN FOR A WONDERFUL TIME HE SAYS. THEN AS IF A NIGHTLY ROUTINE, HIS PERFORMANCE BEGINS. HE DETAILS HIS TOP-SECRET ARTWORK. A PROPRIETARY KIND OF ARTWORK. ARTWORK MADE WITH LIGHT PHOTONS THROUGH AN ANALOG MEDIUM, WITHOUT THE USE OF ANY COMPUTERS, ARTWORK THAT MUST NOT BE SOLD TO ANYONE, ANYONE AT ALL, EVEN WITH SIX FIGURE OFFERS. THE ARTWORK IS IMMEDIATELY DESTROYED AFTER ITS SHORT-LIVED DISPLAY. HE BRAVES THE COLD AND SYSTEMATICALLY, ONE BY ONE, BEGINS REMOVING HIS DOUBLED-UP OR TRIPLED-UP GLOVES. HIS ARTWORK LIVES ON THE PIXELS OF A JPEG. HE SHOWS OFF ONE HIS MASTERPIECES. I AGREE. IT IS RATHER BEAUTIFUL. AND IT MOVES. WHATEVER IT IS. OR WAS. I ASSUME IT HAS BEEN DESTROYED.
OG BEGINS BURSTING WITH EMOTION AS HE INSTANTANEOUSLY RELIVES THE LAST 17 YEARS IN THE SPAN OF A THREE MINUTE CONVERSATION. HE TELLS GRAND TALES OF ENDLESSLY SHOVELING SIDEWALKS AND BATTLING VILLAINOUS CORPORATIONS TO KEEP THE SUMMIT BLOCK FREE OF PARASITE PARKING METERS. ANOTHER FOOD TRUCK AND RESTAURANT ARE COMING TO THE END OF THE BLOCK.
THE LEFT DOOR, THE DOOR ADJACENT TO THE TWO DOORS BOTH WITH ARROWS POINTING LEFT, OPENS UP. OG BIDS US FAREWELL AND SETS OFF INTO THE COLD, DARK, A LITTLE LESS DESERTED, NIGHT. I AM IN THE RIGHT PLACE (AREN’T WE ALWAYS). I WILL ALWAYS WONDER WHAT LIES BEYOND THE DOOR ON THE RIGHT.
THE DANCE BEGINS. WEIGHT LEFT LEG, WEIGHT RIGHT LEG, LEFT LEG, BOTH LEGS, SQUAT, CHECK TIME, STRETCH, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, SQUAT. REPEAT. LOOK BUSY. CHECK TIME. CHECK FACEBOOK. GET OFF THE PHONE YOU LOOK ADDICTED. FACEBOOK NOTIFICATIONS ARE ANNOYING. LEFT LEG, RIGHT LEG. CHECK TIME.
SUN KIL MOON.
HAPPY. I WAS IN THE RIGHT PLACE.