By Eve Marcellus
Photos by Patrick Kelly
Avi Buffalo, the Long Beach, California-based guitar pop band has been garnering a great deal of attention in the weeks leading to the release of their self-titled debut album. Despite the hoopla, they took the stage at the Independent to a fairly thin crowd. The band’s youth is incredibly evident in both their appearance and stage presence. While it is a huge asset, creating the fresh arrangements and some of the cutest, quirkiest lyrics heard in ages, the first few songs of the set were noticeably stiff. “Summer Cum” was appropriately high energy and dreamy, but it wasn’t until the almost eight minute long “Remember Last Time,” that the boys let loose and showed their range and precocious skills. The songs transferred beautifully to the stage, and will no doubt get better and better as they continue to tour.
Japandroids rocked out. The set was loud, slick, and in-your-face. It was a little unbelievable to watch two handsome young men scream into microphones for an hour, while they banged seemingly impossible, but amazing noises out of a drum kit or made the grungiest electric guitar sound fantastic while flying around the stage (nonetheless, while in skinny white jeans). It was striking to watch, and even more incredible to listen to. Their devil-may-care anthems of youth, like “Wet Hair” and “The Boys are Leaving Town” are reminiscent of the dirty garage punk rock that teenage boys all over the world hope to master as an outlet for their angst. The Japandroids make it as much about youthful disillusionment as skillful musicianship, and it truly makes for a kick-ass show.
Avi Buffalo continues their tour with Modest Mouse this summer. That lineup will perhaps make more sense, at least to those who like their whole show to represent one feel. There was something else entirely connecting Avi Buffalo and Japandroids, and boy was it a smart combination. Both are the themes of youth: naivete and self-absorption, sex, the future, and identity. It is rare that bands are booked together based on something so esoteric, but it really should be happening all the time.