New Blip Noise Beat Rock

Buffalo Daughter Buffalo Daughter
with the Beans
The Starfish Room
Vancouver, B.C.
Saturday, April 4, 1998

Review by Darren Kerr
Photography by Rodney Gitzel

Follow the bouncing synth.
Follow the notes from
left                  to                  right

Your eyes are getting heavy.
You are getting sleepy.
Repeat after me.

Buffalo Daughter are the shit.
Buffalo Daughter are the shit.
Buffalo Daughter are the shit.

When I count to three
you will awaken knowing this
to be the absolute truth.
1... 2... 3...


Buffalo Daughter's Roland Drumatix and Bass Line boxes

The Story Ends

"Fuck you ya fuckin' taxi!" swore Black Lip-Lined Homegirl as Idiot Cab Driver threatened to take out our legs as he ran the red light. Everyone was agitated tonight. Every greeting was an expletive. People seemed to be channeling a strange amalgam of Travis Bickle and Don Rickles.

It was a funny, sarcastic kind of danger. I boarded the Skytrain, Surrey-bound, watching as your everyday average goons heckled a guy on his way to a rave with a really, really big afro wig. They were relentlessly redneck from Main to Royal Oak, but I wasn't phased at all. I was enveloped by a Technicolor musical bubble.

suGar I was just at a Buffalo Daughter show.

The Show

I'm realizing that I really dig Japanese rock music -- the spastic mutant language of the Boredoms; the sheer rock overdrive of Guitar Wolf; even the speed shriek that is Melt Banana. Now add to this list Buffalo Daughter.

CMJ have recommended this trio (or quartet, live) to people who like Cibo Matto, Beastie Boys or the Boredoms in one issue describing their debut release, Captain Vapour Athletes, and to people who like Stereolab, Luscious Jackson and Tortoise in another issue which sang the praises of the band's latest album, New Rock. I'd say that's quite a range of possibilities, but, truth is they're right. Buffalo Daughter are all that and a bag of pistachios.

suGar Tonight everything was built around repetition -- good repetition, like that found in the music of Stereolab, Robert Fripp and Can, only more minimal. SuGar Yoshinaga, the guitar/beatbox player, has found that the best way to avoid writing three-chord songs is to use only two chords, or sometimes one. Her guitar was capital C crunchy with supervillian tone, and it carried more weight than a wrecking ball. Stereolab may have the "Noise of Carpet," but they don't have this guitar.

Add to this big bubbly bass and diabolical keyboard flourishes from Yumiko Ohno and MoOog Yamamoto's turntable weirdness, and you had one hell of a unique avant-pop rock band on the Starfish stage. The drummer -- almost sumo-sized, dwarfing his kit -- had astonishing meter, was solid as bedrock and metronome tight, and MoOog didn't even use a click-track to sync with the band's old drum machine (the segues between aged technology and full-on rock drumming were particularly effective). And, to be honest, I'm not sure what exactly the turntable guy did musically, but my guess is if you took him out of the equation, he'd be sorely missed.

The band opened with the title track from New Rock, and the only other song I could name is the single "Great Five Lakes," which was a funky number with an acoustic guitar base and a sing-song chorus. The transit gods were mocking me, however, as I left halfway through Buffalo Daughter's set to catch the last Skytrain home, my curses turning the air around me an angry blue. [Rodney: Indeed. He missed probably the two best tunes of the night, namely the sprawling, amazing, beatbox-derived "LI303VE" and a manic, angular guitar blast for the encore.] Buy all Buffalo Daughter albums and follow the bouncing synth.

the Beans shy dancer Openers the Beans, from Vancouver, were surf music personified, in that they don't play music for surfers -- rather, their music was surf itself. Waves of guitar crashing on a desolate shore, jazzbo rock thump and sweet, sweet trumpet winding around everything like smoke.

On this night, the Beans also featured an interpretive dancer, who went from sleeping against an amp to standing on one, doing slow, deliberate ballet moves. One song, "Boston Roofworkers' Association," was the only song with lyrics: "When did the Beans + dancer you stop loving me?" and "I think I'll stop loving you" -- that's it -- were punctuated by swelling instrumental intricacy both beautiful and angry.

Unfortunately, and I'm not sure why, every time a band -- the Beans included -- that plays building, atmospheric music plays the Starfish, people have to yatter incessantly, especially during the really quiet stanzas. I guess when you're at the show just to show off those wicked new boots, music appreciation goes right out the window.

Anyway, a most enlightening set from a compelling band. Keep an eye out for their new Portage CD.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on April 18, 1998

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