Written By: Andy Sweat (Angry Staffer)
Photos By: Jeremy Ross
View all of Jeremy’s Avi Buffalo photos here.
It was a cold evening outside, and even a colder night for music inside the Echo where they pump the AC juice as if their dance floor was the Sahara dessert (I was balls cold, and for the first time, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, actually wanted a fucking Snuggie). There was barely anyone there for the opening two bands (an amateur pseudo-garage band and a dude dressed in some rabbit, hamster suit hitting the drum machine with about the same amount of arrogance as if he were recreating Homogenic), but by the time Avi Buffalo appeared the room was packed with budding high school teens and freshman girls in dire need of a sensitive and swooning leading man.
Avi Buffalo (or known in his family as Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg) is the “man” behind this newly signed Sub Pop Records band. Before we can go further, we must state the one fact everyone who knows the band talks about so we can put this all into perspective: the dude is fucking 19. He actually just turned 19 fricken last night as people shouted faint birthday calls to the bushy eye-browed crooner. So, for a 19 year old to be signed by Sub Pop, either he has got some serious chops, or Sub Pop sees an indie product that they can sell and break into more mainstream outlets.
Either way, there’s a lot of buzz around this Avi kid, and I was intrigued to see what he could do.
Avi’s vocals resemble the sweet, high-pitched sound of the Shins, but at times you can hear glimpses of gruff and edge as you would in Isaac Brock’s voice (Modest Mouse). I hope Avi attempts to explore the latter because that Shins (though very cute and all) shtick gets old fast. If Avi continues to sound more like The Shins they are quickly gonna be on the “Oh-they-are-so-like-whatever” list, as oppose to a band that is challenging themselves to strive for something more. The latter route might not be aligned with Sub Pop’s plans for Avi, but, in terms of the quality of music that is both inventive, original and would push Avi himself creatively, the later is the route worth taking.
Don’t get me wrong, Avi is a very promising songwriter well ahead of most his age. His guitar work is solid with a lot of potential to explore his more jazz influenced roots in the years to come. Last night was all about seeing a promising, very young leading man trying to understand who he is, what he remembers listening to growing up in his short lifetime, and where he should go from here on out. Last night was quite possibly the beginning of a household name. There’s a lot of promise in Avi and it’s exciting to be a part of the early stages of growth.
The bands most popular, polished song, “What’s It In For,” is the perfect example of Avi combining everything that’s been influential to him into a beautiful-sounding indie-pop song. It’s a beguiling piece of Shin-style jangle pop, and you have to admit the line “You are tiny and your lips are like little pieces of bacon” is straight from a Ween catalog. It is a nice, radio-friendly tune. Nothing more nor less. It could’ve easily fit in the Shins catalog and would be adored by all the high school indie-emo kids in attendance last night. To read too much into it would be doing the song a disservice. Let the soft, sweet, pubescent teen vocals mixed with the whimsical hooks be what it is: a lovely song in search for its indie-film vehicle.
“Summer Cum,” is a seesaw jangle that teeters back and forth between vocal and guitar hooks. It’s a sweet song, with sharp wit, and is a great radio follow-up to the other hit.
Avi Buffalo will likely be an indie-darling popping up here-and-there at every bloated, over-hyped, the Hoff attending (The Hoff = Coachella) music festival this coming year or two. I wouldn’t be surprised if they could reach the same mainstream success as the Shins did (Starbucks, Walmart, and whatever overrated Garden State Indie Movie is of this year included).
But, Thursday night, Avi Buffalo was a nice time, with sweet sounds and with a lot of potential. In the end, I think the resounding constant thought that was going through my mind when listening to Avi was: “I can really see my mom digging this.” That and… “This song is stuck in my head!”
It’s solid music that doesn’t aspire to be too complicated or complex. And music like this is perfect for a shit load of people. The live show is nothing to write home about and best to be played inside small, secretive social gatherings tucked in a dingy dorm room.
For me, it’s like… whatever.
But I’ll be checking in now and then on this 19-year-old. Avi’s got a lot of promise and whole hell of a lot of time.
I like those odds – 2.5 guns
View all of Jeremy’s photos here.