It’s always a pleasure to see some live music in Nashville, but it’s especially brilliant when every act that takes the stage is entertaining and magnetic. The night I went to see Buffalo Clover at The Basement, I experienced one of those rare nights–when everything came together and the bands warming the stage were stellar, and the main event blew me away. I love it when that happens. I really do.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the talent of Don Gallardo and How Far West or the band who followed, headed by Allen Thompson. I hope to see them again somewhere soon. I was there to see Buffalo Clover, though, and exceptionally excited since I knew they had material from a new album to perform. I’d seen them wandering around the venue, nodding along with the performers who went before, and they looked relaxed but excited. It put me in the same mood. The moment they took the stage, that only increased.
Margo Price, the petite lead singer, is a vocal powerhouse who rocked some three-inch heels and a guitar that was almost bigger than she is. She took immediate control of the stage with the opening chords of Can’t Stand Still, causing every person in the venue to spontaneously break into dance. Though I wished for just a bit more vocal, I couldn’t deny the command the whole band has over their respective instruments. They’re just as precise live as they are on the recordings, but there’s a slight hysterical flavor, as if they want to just leap from the stage and really break it down.
Another standout song was Cure Me, which fell third in the lineup. Margo was absolutely mesmerizing as she danced across the stage and teased the rest of the band. It was easy to see what a great rapport they all have, as well as a respect for each other. The backing singers were a welcome surprise, too–also vamping a bit for the crowd while providing some fun harmony to lines like “You’ve got medicine eyes.” And while the vocals, which are always the first thing I hear, were killer, there was no denying that the tight relationship between strings and percussion kept everything moving.
When Matt Gardner got his chance to shine on Nobody Cares, I found myself wishing I could turn his microphone up myself. His voice is so smooth and mellow, perfect for the lyrics and the mood of the song, but easy to lose behind some of the guitar licks. On the album, they’re perfect together. Live, he deserves a bit more attention from the sound guy.
With the soul flavor Low Down Time boasts, it was no surprise to hear a little James Brown with their I’ll Go Crazy cover. The backing singers were really on point, providing some strong, fun harmony and blending perfectly with Margo. The rest of the show was rounded out with some new tunes before they brought the house down with the raucous Oh Well. I loved the song on the record, but live they really let loose and rocked it live.
This is a band that you can truly appreciate when they present studio work, but you don’t get the real deal until you see them sing it in person. I’m already obsessively checking the calendar for their next performance, and I wouldn’t even mind if they did the same set. They’re full of energy, masters of their own genre, and more than magnetic on the stage. If you get a chance to see them at the Mando Blues Show on September 12, take it.
Photo by MD Laidlaw