Avi Buffalo, the band, has changed somewhat since their well acclaimed 2010 selftitled debut album on Subpop. Only drummer Sheridan Riley is still around with the aid of Anyhony Vezirian (keyboard) and Doug Brown (bass) as backing for Avi Buffalo, the touring band.
On the new record "At Best Cuckold" Avi Buffalo aka singer, songwriter, guitarist Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg has luckily delved into new territory compared to the typical indie/almost neo-psychedelic dream-pop debut four years ago and has grown a more mature songwriter (he is now 23 years old after all!) also exploring a folkie path thus finding a new voice (on Overwhelmed With Pride), deeper and darker, often in an acoustic setting with strings(!) and the odd fuzz guitar turned down low but still focusing as ever on the good melody. Don´t get me wrong! The breezy, otherworldly high pitched/falsetto-like voice of his is still there but slightly more measured and used for greater effect.
It sounds natural for Avi just to sing out his short stories of (lost)love, childhood memories and traveling as if his words effortlessly finds their melodic garlands by themselves or so it seems when listening to the new album. Indeed a more grown up performance altogether both soundwise more complex and also in the lyrics department- very promising for the future. The time gap between the debut and "At Best Cuckold" has done him good as regards his songwriting. At times you feared that the "difficult second" would never materialize, but here it is, so grab it...go and buy "At Best Cuckold".
If you don´t like the title go ahead make up your own ABC-joke!! And did you notice?...I even managed to avoid references to both (labelmates) The Shins and Neil Young, how about that!?
Imagine the smallest of venues you´ve ever been to: in the back room of a pub or a bar, in a basement under a restaurant or it could be in a loft somewhere. If the karma´s right you could be facing a rare musical experience. A crowd standing close to the band is often a shortcut to a great musical experience.
In this case Avi Buffalo had finally hit Copenhagen on Sunday September 29th performing at the intimate venue Ideal Bar in the ground floor of the Vega building. The support band got sick so what do you do then? Avi Buffalo asked their drummer Sheridan Riley to get behind the microphone, borrow Avi´s black Strat and sing a couple of her songs as Peg. Suddenly Avi joined on bass and Anthony Vezirian played the drums. It sounded like an impromptu performance, something that had previously only belonged to the rehearsal studio or at soundchecks at most but was now let out into the public...not bad in fact as the melodies sung in Sheridan´s powerful voice stuck to mind.
A small intermission before the main attraction and then Avi Buffalo in all their glory...well I don´t know about glory, they just got on stage- a platform about 30 cm above the floor and started with So What from the new album At Best Cuckold. A crowd less than two hundred people saw this combo of four young Americans performing approx. 10 or so songs selected from their two albums. And the audience liked what they saw to judge by their reception of the band.
One of the highlights of the show was Avi alone singing and playing electric guitar on Summer Cum. To prove his folkie leanings he also strummed the acoustic guitar for Two Cherished Understandings and Overwhelmed With Pride. Especially these two quiet songs sounded very well in the intimate surroundings of Ideal Bar.
Avi is the star no doubt about that. Sheridan Riley is a more than capable drummer adding dynamics to the overall sound of the band and also sings harmony with Avi. Nice!
You can always discuss the quality and the length of a concert: long concerts are not by definition good concerts and a short concert is on the other hand not necessarily bad, however, a too short concert is not fulfilling an audience´s expectation of getting into the music.....
This evening´s 45 minutes of pure melodic indie rock by this young band still building up a following was enough to satisfy the expectations so generously promised in the bands two albums. Without a lot of fuss (but only with a little fuzz!!) they just stood there and played with Avi´s rapport with the audience limited to a "Thank You!"- instead concentrating on his performance finetuning both his guitar and his band between songs: "One, Two, Three, Four..."
The Danish crowd consisting mostly of Citizens of Copenhagen knows a good and honest band when they hear one and Avi Buffalo won if not their minds- at least won their hearts over with this great concert. Only complaint from this reviewer: no Jessica neither in the setlist nor the encore!