Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Avi Buffalo at The Echo

I only learned Avi Buffalo was on the Robert Francis residency at The Echo earlier in the day and any plans I had were off. This was not to be missed.

I'm beginning to feel a bit pummeled by all the incredible shows I've attended over the last five days and this only added to the list. This was the third time I've seen Avi Buffalo, only my second with his full band.

As his set was scheduled for 9 o'clock, I walked into the nearly empty club beforehand and wasn't completely surprised to see Aaron Embry, since I'd heard they were recording together. Not only happy to congratulate the new father in person, I was doubly pleased to hear he was playing guitar with Avi Buffalo.

There's a gathering buzz around this remarkable band of extraordinary youth and an interesting crowd of music fanatics assembled. This included Rob Danson of Death To Anders, Ashley Jex of Rock Insider, Mary Chartkoff of The Monolators and Ben ('Mouse') of Classical Geek Theatre among others.

Avi Buffalo composes some of the most original, quirky, inventive and intelligent songs I've heard in the entire indie rock movement. Oh, hell, let's just call the songs brilliant! No wonder he's collaborating with Aaron Embry and Amnion. The more I hear what this band wants to say, the more I want to hear it.

It's great to find an 18 year old writing with apparent prescience about life's weightier topics like life and death, and in such a clear headed voice. His writing possesses a certainty I find reassuring. Just listen to the lyrics for "Where's Your Dirty Mind".

Performing as a band of six, their sound overwhelmed me. Much as I enjoyed them before, I wasn't ready for this. Avi Buffalo and Rebecca Coleman handle most of the vocals. He has an appealing high voice and a slightly peculiar delivery as the words just tumble out while he plays some of the most accomplished guitar I've ever heard. She adds strong harmony and vocal support while mastering the keyboard.

Aron Fazio adds amazing bass and bounces around the stage in a fit of joy that's catching. He also adds vocal harmony and when Aaron joined in, the vocals became an overwhelming wall of voices. The extraordinary drumming is by Evan Trine and there was another player in the back on another keyboard, I believe.

Besides "Where's Your Dirty Mind", they played a great song called "What's In It For" and "Sun", I believe. Not only are the lyrics fresh and original, the music sometimes achieves such great beauty, it becomes unbearably moving. And yet it rocks so hard, you just want to dance. Incredible! The whole audience seemed awe-struck.

I stayed to speak to them afterward and was glad to hear Avi's CD is almost done. I am most anxious to have some recorded material. The whole band is refreshingly pretension-free. I would love to have stayed to see Robert Francis for the third time in three weeks, but there's a lot of shows coming up, so I sacrificed.

But I came away from the show feeling I have been lucky to have seen some amazing bands in my life...and this may be one of the most amazing. It will be fun to watch Avi Buffalo progress over the next year.

All this on the eve of the inauguration of President Obama. It's becoming difficult not to be optimistic about the future.


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