Avi Buffalo/Chad VanGaalen Live at the Seaport
Friday, July 30, 2010
Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg spent most of his set at the Seaport on Friday on his toes. Perched on the top few square inches of his mottled flamingo-pink Converse sneakers, he stomped about in his corner of the stage, rocking his body — all 19 years of his being — back and forth tensely, while his band, Avi Buffalo, played their dreamy indie-pop looking far more relaxed then I imagine a band on their first-ever tour typically looks. At first I thought it was because he was nervous playing to a New York crowd that opener Chad VanGaalen had just pointed out has every entertainment opportunity at their fingertips, but, in retrospect, I don’t think that was it. This kid’s a pro.
Led by Avi’s wiry falsetto, they plowed through the bulk of their self-titled debut, taking its go-to reference point — Sub Pop labelmates the Shins — and putting some muscle behind it. Here, the on-record mellowness of “Jessica” gave way to layers and layers of texture and tumultuous effects. (Again, his feet. He was working with at least nine or ten different pedals throughout the show.) Album highlight “What’s in It For?” showcased his quirky, melancholy lyrics; a song called “My Girl” got jammy in a very Built to Spill kind of way, with mini fits of full-out shredding but also plenty of fancy guitar work high up on the neck. There’s been lots of talk about how well this kid can play his guitar, and that right there proved it.
With no heat wave to speak of, or no one of Best Coast’s blog-buzz stature on the bill (VanGaalen’s long-running Neil Young-Ben Kweller hybrid has earned him veteran status in only a few select circles), the night marked one of the lower-key River to River shows, in a really good way. Every so often, it’s refreshing to hear good, strong, no-fuss indie-rock from a group of nice, un-jaded kids.
Photos by Rachel Newell