Friday evening, I excitedly made my way downtown to the Bowery Ballroom for a great night of music. After relaxing in the bar area, I met up with Jim Barrett and Ben Yarbrough, of Young Buffalo, for a quick pre-show interview. These are two of the most relaxed and chilled out guys I have ever met. Hailing from Oxford, Mississippi, Jim and Ben met in Middle School and started playing and writing songs together. After several years, they teamed up, once again, to play music with the name Young Buffalo, which was Jim’s nickname for Ben from their time in school. After reuniting, they later formed their five-piece group, completing Young Buffalo. Jim describes their sound as “harmonious rock ‘n’ roll,” and Ben adds that the records are more pop-sounding, whereas the live shows are louder, with a more prevalent rock ‘n’ roll vibe. Their newest record, House, came out in March of this year, and the guys have loved every minute of sharing their new tunes during this tour. When I asked about the creation of the album, Jim spoke about the craft that went into writing the songs. He described the process as being similar to the EP’s, but this one “was a bit more democratic.” Instead of going with the idea that “whoever writes the song, sings it,” this record was “more thought out,” giving other members the opportunity to make their mark where they saw fit.
Young Buffalo took the stage, and having just spoken to them less than an hour beforehand, I couldn’t wait to support my new friends and hear their songs come to life. They opened up with “Man In Your Dreams,” which happens to be Jim’s favorite tune. He discussed having recorded a demo of the song over four years ago; here in New York, and that it has gone through many phases before becoming complete. Jim is happy they stuck it out and found a place where the song really fits into what they do. He feels a connection with the song and is stoked about the way it came out. With that in mind, the live version was big; it was loud, as promised; and it was booming. The harmonies were spot on and the drums held down the groove with pure energy. One of my favorite songs from Young Buffalo’s set was “No Idea,” also from House. This song is catchy with a powerful and strong hook as well as infectiously melodic verses.
As a whole, the set was engaging and exhilarating. I appreciated the instrument switch between Jim and bassist, Andrew Guinn. The group is multi-talented regarding their songwriting and chemistry, but it’s neat to see them switch it up instrumentally and still keep things fresh and alive. Another favorite of mine from their set was “My Place,” which was reminiscent of an old school, rather classic rock sound. Each of their songs was tightly played with lots of energy. They are excited to see fans in the crowd belting out their song lyrics as they play. Jim says “it makes you feel good,” and after experiencing their live set, I plan on being one of those fans, singing along to all of the lyrics and making them feel good at their next New York show.
As the stage was reset, a few friends joined me at the Bowery Ballroom, as we all reveled in the excitement of Matt Pond PA’s upcoming performance. Mr. Pond is celebrating the tenth anniversary of releasing his album Several Arrows Later. He played the entire album through, in order, which seemed to make everyone quite happy within the walls of the packed ballroom. Matt opened up with the album’s first track, “Halloween,” which immediately displayed his smooth vocals and his lovely melodies. The cello added an element of fullness that propelled the melody in a beautiful way.
The audience was able to fluctuate with the band as they played, going up and down with them, depending on the mood of the songs. Between playing “City Song” and “From Debris,” Matt continued to connect with the crowd on a personal level, mentioning that “most of these songs were written within two miles of this place. I really do love it here.” Matt’s connection to New York City made his performance uniquely special. As a full band jam broke out during “From Debris,” the crowd was amped up, dancing around to the groove, led by a most energetic guitar riff. Matt’s hooks are catchy and meaningful, which came through as he passionately performed them.
Rounding out the album with “Devil In The Water” was not nearly the end of his set, as he played some fan favorites as well as a couple new tracks to keep the evening going strong. When Matt Pond PA played “Love To Get Used,” the audience erupted in glee. It seemed like everyone in the room was affected, in unity, by the epic tune. It felt great to let loose with some great friends, dance like idiots, and sing along to the booming chorus: “Black bird from the blue, I give my love to get used!” Before ending the show, Matt Pond shared an intimate moment with the crowd, saying: “We’d really like to shake everyone’s hand and drink a beer. That’s what we do in New York.” The crowd erupted in cheers and applause as he proceeded to end the evening on a high note.
Article: Alex Feigin