Live Review: Young Buffalo at Black Cat Backstage, Washington DC – 6th April 2015

By on Wednesday, 8th April 2015 at 2:00 pm

Before heading out on a proper tour of North America with Matt Pond PA (read: 6 weeks, it’s long!), Young Buffalo played a celebratory kickoff show in Washington DC this past Monday night as part of an ongoing campaign to support their latest release. ‘House’, their debut album that came out at the start of March, is out now on Votiv Recordings, and last month, they played a bunch of Southern festivals including that biggie that is SXSW 2015. (More on all of that in a future interview feature soon to post here on TGTF.) While this was a much more low-key affair than a massive music festival, dedicated fans danced and bopped their heads to the Oxford, Mississippi group’s brand of feel good, melodic indie rock infused with touches of bright surf pop.

The band has been a five-piece since last summer, when they road-tested their live line-up supporting Sheffield’s The Crookes on their first headline tour of America in 2014. As a touring entity, they remind me of Brooklyn’s The Dig, as they can switch off lead vocals between their two primary songwriters, Ben Yarbrough and Jim Barrett, who have been close friends and writing songs together since they were teenagers. ‘House’ standout track ‘Sykia’ is such a fun track live, with a rapid fire drum-in from Tim Burkhead and an upbeat tempo that never lets up. Its sunniness is due in part to its subject matter, its name coming from a small Greek village where Barrett once holidayed. Think Surfer Blood, but with much less emotional baggage.

Young Buffalo at Black Cat Backstage, Washington DC, 6 April 2015

With piano chords and falsetto harmonies reminding me of Grizzly Bear but with a melody that sounds anything but Grizzly Bear (if that makes any sense at all) and sprightly guitar notes, ‘No Idea’ is another energetic track, delivered live with wildly staccatoed vocals that you can’t help but tap your toes to. The opening track on ‘House’, ‘Man in Your Dreams’, dazzled with its glittery synth opening before it turned into a surf pop masterpiece.

While you can draw comparisons between them and loads of other bands currently on the indie rock / surf pop scene now, few have the history, friendship and heart Young Buffalo do. They’re still a very young band in terms of releases, but on the strength of their live shows (their last SXSW gig at the UPROXX House Saturday night had Bill Murray in attendance: make of that what you will) and of ‘House’, with graft they have the potential to have longevity in this business.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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