King Buffalo is taking off this week for their maiden European tour. Last year’s debut album Orion was well received both here and abroad, and they were booked to play with the Elder on across Europe and the North America. Before embarking on this adventure, they celebrated with a hometown show on Saturday, July 8 at The Bug Jar. Billed as the King Buffalo European Send Off, the show included support from Fuzzrod and Malarchuk.
King Buffalo are no strangers to the Bug Jar. They’ve been playing at the quirky Monroe Avenue bar throughout the four years since the band formed. Show flyers are plastered on the windows below the groovy 60’s-inspired painted sign. King Buffalo’s merchandise table was set up near the front door, and included some new t-shirt designs, their album Orion on vinyl, and a variety of other products.
I made my way past the bar and pool table to the other side of the bar, where I could hear the beginnings of a sound check. At first viewing, the room looks like any other venue, with a stage, a spot for the sound guy, and a bunch of band stickers on the walls. But look up, and there’s a fully-furnished apartment affixed upside down to the ceiling.
Equally surprising was the first opening act. A supergroup recently formed from members of local bands, Fuzzrodd was a throwback to the antiestablishmentarian punk ethos. Their debut EP is called Fake News, and the political reference is a reminder of the rebellious origins of punk rock. Audience members chanted along to the catchy chorus “F— work, just give me the money.”
Next up was the Buffalo band Malarchuk. They specialize in hard rock with a metal edge. The first song of their set was “Night Tear’r (Long Jammer),” which spanned an impressive 24 minutes. Lyrics are minimal on most of their songs, the emphasis mainly on rocking the guitar-bass-percussion triad. The audience at Bug Jar is known for participation. In between songs, one person yelled “Bawitdaba” and the lead singer completed the Kid Rock lyric “da bang a dang diggy.”
The excitement in the air was palpable as King Buffalo took the stage. Without much ado, they launched into a jam that I quickly surmised was one of their new songs. Dan Reynolds laid down a thick bass line and Scott Donaldson produced a heavy beat which typify King Buffalo’s bluesy sound. Singer Sean McVay contributed reverberated melodic guitar riffs and vocalizations. They weren’t lyrics, but primordial sounds that resonated with the music and transcended the need for language.
Everyone in the room was transfixed, caught up in the trance of psychedelic vibes, as the music flowed through songs from Orion, including “Sleeps on a Vine,” “Monolith,” and “Kerosene.” With the spotlight dimmed, they played within the glow of the LED-laced amps and drum kit. The music went on for a solid sixty minutes, with only a brief pause to thank the opening bands, but it hardly seemed enough.
After the finale, “Drinking from the River Rising,” the crowd clamored for one more song. McVay conferred with Donaldson and Reynolds, then announced an encore. They chose “Orion,” the title and lead track from the LP, an epic soundscape infused with mythological lyrics. When it concluded, lights went up, and the guys beside me raised their cans of Genesee beer in salute.
King Buffalo hung around to celebrate after their set. They perform in Germany on Friday, then make their way across the continent, from Austria to the Netherlands. After a break, they begin the North American tour, kicking off at St. Vitus in Brooklyn on October 28. For tour dates and tickets, visit their website.