I mentioned briefly in the piece on Ghostface and Raekwon that last week was a garbage week for us; if last week was a person it would be the child of Donald Trump and Hitler raised by Ted Nugent in a field of sweltering trash (or Indiana, if you will). Where the Ghostface/Raekwon show did little to lift our spirits (it was alright, but not exactly heart warming), Buke & Gase definitely made it seem like everything was going to be alright. Their confluence of influences is weird, like a pop friendly Shellac with beautiful female driven vocals. And I wrote it as “female driven,” because honestly I can’t think of one comparison off the top of my head to compare singer Arone Dyer’s delightful voice, which is definitely in a higher register. It’s amazing stuff.
In fact, Dyer made that part of their set. She had something to help her process her vocals, which she used for in between song banter to pitch her voice down into an awkward male voice used here to great effect. Add in to this that to my ears their music is a joyous celebration of sound, and you get the idea of just how light-hearted everything was, backed by an especially punchy and staccato rhythm section. Somehow this stuff manages to shred at times too, even considering the self-imposed logistical limitations to the band. All I know is that I was definitely feeling and woke up on Sunday with a well-earned bangover.
They have a unique sound defined, but not relegated to their instrumentation. The titular “buke” is a baritone ukelele played here most often like a lead guitar, albeit as filtered through an array of effects. The “gase” is a guitar/bass hybrid played not unlike a 12 string guitar, although according to gase-ist Aron Sanchez it is virtually impossible to bar the chords due to the thickness of the strings. For drums, Sanchez has a triggered bass drum set up run through a lap top that he plays in real time, and Dyer has jingle bells on her feet. Operating as a duo, the pair fill up a lot of space made perhaps more possibly by their ingenuous instrumentation and use of effects. These are smart people making smart music; no wonder that I discovered this band on Radiolab.
Between sets I had the privilege of getting to speak with both members of the band. I usually don’t fool with that sort of thing, but given how rotten of a time I’ve had lately, I just needed to tell someone what a positive impact that they had on my wife and I. In fact, to anyone and everyone that’s reached out to me this week, you have no idea how much this means. I feel surrounded by love and support from my community, which is one of the main reasons that I’m on here typing away about this or that band every week; this is what punk rock is about to me, no matter what sort of music you play.
It was awesome talking to them. I spoke with Sanchez the most, and he was really open about what they do and how they do it. The way to my heart with music is making sounds that I can’t identify. They had tons of pedals that I had no idea what they did, and triggered sounds that I had no idea what they were. And they made it look easy too. According to Sanchez, part of that ease came from a special software rig that he set up to trigger all their pedals simultaneously, so that rather than having to tap dance over all their pedals at once, they could just hit one button and arm what they needed to arm. Color me impressed. Not only do they make their own instruments, but they -or at least Sanchez- builds their own software for pedals. I want to go to there.
The headliner was a band named Landlady. They weren’t the main attraction for us going in, but they put on a solid show regardless. Hailing from NYC, they had a sound like later era-Dischord stuff, which to my ears is like Fugazi or The Dismemberment Plan, with more than a little Mission of Burma or Husker Dü in their DNA. It was busy pop music, especially in comparison to the stripped down glory of Buke & Gase, but nice nonetheless. We left satisfied that night, with our only regret being that you -yes, you reading this right now- missed it, because this show was fucking awesome and while I love the intimacy afforded to us by attendance, I wish that the place would’ve been packed wall-to-wall. Buke & Gase absolutely deserve it.
Listen to General Dome below and know love.