Tags: buke and gass
Forever, since 2002 to be exact, my favorite small venue show was Down at the Ranch Bowl. Not only was I a huge fan of Down at the time (and, on occasion, still am) but the show degraded at some point to a party rather than concert. Anselmo requested that all the house lights be turned on, called a small break to allow himself and those other thirsty hessians time to get a beverage, then continued for another hour in a setting that more resembled somebody’s basement then a music venue.
I had never felt closer to a band or that they had truly gone off the script in response to our fervent reception before that evening and hadn’t since, until last night.
I’m going to skip the typical introduction for Buke and Gass (the one where their unique instruments are described) and assume that you’ve been on the internet before and can look it up. While their custom instruments are incredbly important to the band’s sound, what made the show my new favorite small venue concert had everything to do with Arone, Aron, and timing.
I can’t tell you how long the band has been touring. Before this first official LP release (Riposte), they put out an EP in 2009 called +/- and, for all I know, have been touring ever since. It’s probably safe to assume that’s the case. This was their first performance in Omaha though and one that I have been waiting for since that seven song EP two years ago.
Regardless of their tenure on the road in this current rendition, Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez comprise a band in its infancy. The duo themselves are anything but callow. Aron is a former member of the band Proton Proton (where the Mark I of the Gass first developed) and Arone is a veteran guitarist of over twenty years. Both played with each other in the band Hominid and worked for the Blue Man Group (Aron constructing various PVC instruments and Arone singing back-up vocals). So it is the childlike innocence they maintain and derive from the band’s simple youth that provided all the character of their performance.
Songs ended frequently with smiles and silent glances between the duo that spoke of surprise in a dialect developed over years of both personal and professional relations. They either expected less of Omaha (which is a sentiment projected upon every band that enters this city’s social constructs due to our collective inferiority complex) or were still innocent, still pure enough to enjoy unexpected worship. This is where I think the amalgamation of timing and the two musicians created a performance that out-shined the novelty of their unique instrumentation.
Aron, who has always seemed a bit stoic, smiled a few times but seemed to be enjoying himself even if it wasn’t always apparent. He looked more nervous than jaded, which again helped cultivate the illusion of a band playing their first gig. Arone, on the other hand, was a lively and joyful pixie smiling often and dancing her fingers about the air when not otherwise occupied with her buke. In a venue that (as remarked by a friend earlier that evening) felt like a cold purposeless space, Buke and Gass sparked merriment through sincere execution of songs and playful interaction with the audience (at one point Arone asked everyone to squat down to the ground, which we all did, then simultaneously jump up. She called this a demonstration of our knees and reassured us that we all had them. It was random, pointless, and completely adorable.)
Chances are I will never see Buke and Gass like this again. If I get to see them again, it will be due to some well deserved success and recognition that warrants (and pays for) another tour. This will bring more work for them and an inevitable fatigue that will slowly eat away at their mirth and innocence. The two new songs they played last night were amazing and I can’t wait for the new album. But Riposte is such an achievement of uninhibited creativity that you can’t help but fear the pressure from growing success will do to Buke and Gass what we’ve seen it do to many bands before them. There’s a very small window in a band’s career, if that band has any professional longevity at all, where you get to see them as candid children in an industry of polished adults. Catching Buke and Gass in this window, however long it may be open, made for the best small venue show I’ve seen.