Wherefore art thou, Buffalo Tom? Definitely not retired and, albeit after 20 years, they came back.
I've been waiting two decades to see Buffalo Tom in concert ever since I was introduced to them by a former bandmate, who is probably their actual #1 fan. Kitchen Door was the first cover song we ever recorded, on a 4-track tape recorder. The band broke up, we went different ways, but I kept Buffalo Tom in my Walkman, then Discman, then MiniDisc player, then iPod, then iPhone, and now Spotify.
While growing up in Brazil actually seeing Buffalo Tom seemed like a distant dream. I mean, they were big enough to have their songs on TV, but not big enough for a South American tour. That's ok, it's not like we had the opportunity to see any other band as well. Being from a small town in southern Brazil you just accept the fact you won't ever have the chance too see any of your idols live.
Then I left.
I moved to the United States. NOW I surely would be able to see my favorite bands live, I thought. And I did. I saw Ben Folds twice, once in Chicago and once in St. Louis. I went to Nashville to see Less Than Jake and later Paul McCartney. I saw Soundgarden in San Francisco. I went to countless underground concerts in Illinois in places Nirvana and REM played when they hadn’t made it big yet.
But I never got to see Buffalo Tom. The timing was never right.
And then it was.
I had to move to Spain to make that happen. When I bought the tickets I had not only them sent, but the whole band was almost literally delivered to my doorstep. The concert was 100 yards from where I live.
I’d love to say the venue was packed, but it wasn’t. If I go on Instagram and search concert pictures I can recognize the people that were there. A few hardcore fans knew the lyrics. I suck at lyrics, but I could sing most of the songs, except the new ones.
They started strong with Summer and finished the set with Tangerine, both from Sleepy Eyed, the first Buffalo Tom album I bought. That’s where Kitchen Door is from.
The rawness of Bill’s guitar and the energy in his playing is counterbalanced by Chris’ and Tom’s calmness on stage. Bill’s open distorted chords and carefully crafted but simple guitar solos were always an inspiration for my own music. As Bill jumped energetically, Chris would swing sideways literally rocking to the tunes. It was raw emotion on one side that made me want to headbang and on the other this sensation of calmness that made me stop and enjoy the melodies. I hope I was able to show this in my photographs. Bill clearly dominated physically the stage, that’s why most pictures are of him.
At the end of the concert, after Tangerine, the band took request from the public. They played Porchlight, Freckles and a Sunflower suit. I thought it was awesome that they just took unplanned requests and even had to take a few moments to remember how to play them.
After the concert was over a few hardcore fans and myself waited outside the venue to meet Bill, Chris and Tom. They were so nice to take pictures with everyone and autograph records and set lists.
I had the chance to tell Chris about how my band had sent him a demo in 99 which included our cover of Kitchen Door and that he had replied with words of encouragement and gifts. Not many bands do this. I don’t know any other band that actually listens to (crappy) demos from kids across the world and take the time to reply and send them an autographed CD.
I also was able to solve a 20 year old mystery. I remember noticing the handwriting of the autographs on the album Chris’ sent to Brazil awfully similar at the time and pointing it out. “I mighta have signed all three names. I mighta”, Chris tells me last week after I tell him the story. “It would have taken ages to get everyone to sign, especially Tom”, he says.
These are my postcards.