Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Last Night: Gomez and Buddy at Great American Music Hall

Posted By on Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 11:36 AM

click to enlarge gomez1_small.jpg
Gomez
Buddy
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Great American Music Hall

Better than: What your mom told you she was doing on St. Patrick's Day. We're pretty sure we saw her there.

In 1998, the bluesy British rock quintet Gomez won the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. Critics heaped acclaim upon their rambling, rich debut album, Bring it On. Well-positioned on a Virgin records subsidiary, the boys from Southport, England were lauded as the Next Big Thing.

Gomez never delivered -- critically or commercially. Its members traded the layered strut of their debut for the radio-friendly, anonymous pop-rock of later albums like In Our Gun. The band's recordings grew more cleanly produced -- and less interesting -- with each release. Big-time sales didn't occur, and Gomez was dropped from Virgin, signing eventually with Dave Matthews' ATO Records. Subsequent releases may have pleased a base of enthusiastic fans, but the band hasn't been on the ascendancy in a decade.

click to enlarge gomez2_small.jpg

Last night, as Gomez kicked off a three-night run at Great American Music Hall, that history didn't matter. Still working their asses off, the members of Gomez played a set of immaculately constructed, Americana-flavored, crowd-pleasing inspiro-rock. There was nothing surprising, but lots to enjoy: a sparkling, gorgeously rendered performance of the smooth blues stomps and countryish laments they've been cranking out with increasing skill over the past 12 years. The five musicians, three of whom rotated among the complex of instruments onstage, betrayed a practiced showmanship, nailing their songs' sudden shifts of direction and at times complex structures. Even when the members weren't on their home instrument, they played with thrilling crispness that had the dancing, celebratory St. Patrick's Day crowd cheering generously. Newer songs such as "Win Park Slope" and "Little Pieces," off of last year's album A New Tide, won some of the most elated whoops at their outset -- which perhaps isn't surprising, given that A New Tide features some of the band's most memorable work this millennium.

click to enlarge gomez3small.jpg

There were reminders that Gomez basically doles out bland jam-rock. Ben Ottewell's throaty, too-passionate voice still sounds like an amalgamation of every male rock singer on FM radio in the early 2000s, and the drabness of some songs at times wandered into easy-listening territory. But when there were adventurous elements to the music, last night's lush mix let them come beaming through: It thrust up the gritty glare of Ottewell's slide guitar playing, made a separate sonic place for each one of drummer Olly Peacock's forty million cymbals, and cutely cast the bouncing ping-pong ball that concludes one number. If anyone wonders why Gomez, now nearly obscure, still tours -- and why their concert tomorrow night is already sold out -- it's because their live show fronts the best aspects of a band that was once recognized for having many of them.

click to enlarge buddy_small.jpg

Buddy, the opening band, is just beginning its career. Led by the 38-year-old Portland transplant Buddy Humberston, the L.A. practicioners of so-called "Wimpycore" -- a coupling of the indie-pop sound with the lyrical sincerity of emo -- showed last night that whatever wimpy means to them, it includes a hearty helping of distorted rock blowouts and thunderous climaxes. Little of that angsty energy has come through in Buddy's recordings so far, but the band hopes to release a full album in the next few months, on which we expect less preciousness and more grit. They captured much love from the older crowd last night, winning wide smiles and disbelieving applause with excited, earnest, familiar-sounding rock and infectious enthusiasm from the members onstage. Al Sgro seemed to play the tambourine with her whole body, even breaking off one its bells mid-song. Guitarist Percy Haverson looked as excited to hear his band's songs hit as many in the crowd did. At the end, Humberston led the crowd in an epic chant and hopped onto the Great American's wood floor to clap overhead, too. He disappeared in the mob for a while, still howling but without a mic, and reappearred on the other side of the stage, sweaty and nearly hoarse. With his neck muscles throbbing, Humberstin grabbed his ax and blared out a big, grungy zenith one more time, to huge cheers. It felt like the highlight of the night.


  • Pin It

Tags: , ,

About The Author

Ian S. Port

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"