As record labels and radio channels get more irrelevant and the DIY tools to grow your base are ever expanding, Rochester’s King Buffalo have taken that strategy to heart. I’m not sure if they book their own tours, but they put out all their own recordings and handle the publicity themselves too. In the ensuing years since I first saw them when they opened for Elder in 2018, they’ve done a pretty great job of raising their profile and tonight Brighton Music Hall was full of people in anticipation of their final show of the year. I talked with a couple who traveled eight hours from New Brunswick, Canada; if that’s not a sign of a dedicated fan base, I’m not sure what is.
Straddling the lines between metal, psych, and even a bit of prog, this trio isn’t afraid to set up camp around a primal groove and bathe in repetition. The tricky part is to not get boring, a trap King Buffalo deftly avoids. They’ve taken a few notes from Rush and both Sean McVay and Dan Reynolds aren’t afraid to add keyboards and other textures to the sound in addition to their guitar and bass duties. Drummer Scott Donaldson is a tireless engine and soon enough ditched his shirt and the grooves got deeper and more intricate. Switching over to a gold sparkle guitar towards the end, McVay showered the room with spiraling, spindling bursts of guitar lines guiding your celestial journey through your brain stem and into the outer reaches of the Horsehead Nebula; fitting that that particular song is on Orion. Coaxed out for a final encore, McVay told the crowd that they’d play a song never played live before, which could actually work great or be a terrible mistake and we’d all find out soon enough. Of course “Firmanent” was a rousing end to a great year by the band, and I look forward to the next stop in town.
Starting up the evening were two local bands with decidedly heavy approaches to music. Kind has a couple of records and takes a workmanlike approach to the stoner groove, akin to early Queens Of The Stone Age. It’s a bit of a local supergroup, featuring Craig Riggs (vocals) from Roadsaw, Darryl Shepard (guitar) from Black Pyramid, Test Meat and other projects, Matt Couto (drums) from Elder and Tom Corino (bass and vocals) from Rozamov. The sonic path they charged down is a familar one, but they knew the route well and delivered.
Opening duties fell to Salem’s Mother Iron Horse. I got to know these guys by accident when I was seated in their row on the flight to Psycho Las Vegas this summer and their show in Vegas was a ripper. In the ensuing time, singer Adam Luca has ditched his guitar duties to new recruit Drew Pelrine and took over solely as a front man. Clambering off the stage and to the rail in repeated raids was a staple of tonight’s show, while the band maintained a steady roar behind him. Not entirely the same realm of music but David Yow is a somewhat apt comparison here. Good times!
Primarily based in Boston, Massachusetts, Tim Bugbee is no stranger to traveling throughout the country or overseas to capture the best live music photos.