Buffalo Tom – Music Hall of Williamsburg – March 17, 2018
With nine albums over the course of three decades, Boston’s Buffalo Tom have remained dependable underdogs in the world of indie rock. Releasing their self-titled debut album 30 years ago on the legendary punk and hardcore label SST Records, they cut their teeth alongside such other like-minded Massachusetts bands as Dinosaur Jr. and the Lemonheads. While they never reached the same commercial success as the latter group, Buffalo Tom have arguably taken the slow-and-steady-wins-the-race approach by quietly delivering great albums that stay true to their sound. The band just released their fantastic new long-player, Quiet and Peace, and rolled through Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night to play a packed St. Paddy’s Day show.
Led by Dave Hill, Brooklyn power-pop band Valley Lodge opened, putting on a tight set with the comedian/WFMU radio host unleashing some insane leads and providing hilarious banter in between songs. By the time Buffalo Tom walked onstage, it was clear the crowd was getting loose for the holiday and ready for a party. The band obliged and treated fans to an almost two-and-a-half-hour show that highlighted their entire catalog. The power trio ripped through most of the classic album Let Me Come Over, delivering blistering renditions of songs like “Larry” and “Taillights Fade.” Main songwriter and guitarist Bill Janovitz’s voice was as powerful as ever on the former and stopped you in your tracks when he hit those high notes in the chorus. More known these days as a rock writer, you can tell Janovitz is a student of the classics as he windmill-strummed power chords like Pete Townshend and captivated the crowd with his deep, emotive croon.
The new songs sounded great and in line with Buffalo Tom’s robust catalog. The best of them was “Roman Cars”—sung by bassist Chris Colbourn—and it sounded like early Wilco covering the Jam. After a long set of would-be anthems, the band returned for a short encore before saying goodnight. The Janovitz-fronted number, “Freckles,” rose to new heights live, its slow build and clashing guitars were both transfixing and transcendent. Buffalo Tom closed the show with a faithful cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York” that sounded like a last call from a bartender who wanted to keep pouring beers long after closing. —Pat King | @MrPatKing