Review by Daiana Feuer.
Back in the distant mists of last April, the Echo held its first ever all-ages residency for Avi Buffalo (then and now supported by his mate Bobb Bruno). Since then, it seems 18-year-old Avi Zahner-Isenberg and his bandmates skipped much of the learning curve and went straight pro. The band's return performance last night at the Eastside venue had a clean, platinum-record tightness–down to the closing grungy breakdown's polite precision.
The show began on a far more eccentric note, though, as children hid behind columns and elbows watching a bunny play with sticks on stage. Clad in a white unitard topped by a giant balloon bunny head, Bobb Bruno appeared to be playing a live soundtrack to an RPG video game. A one man band on drum pad, he builds epic ride-and-snare rhythms and synthesized ballads note by note.
To many, Bobb Bruno is a local legend. He produces modern, edgy girl-groups like Pocahaunted and Miko Miko, and has written or produced songs for over fifty albums. Lately people are also picking up on his low-fi garage pop band Best Coast with Bethany Cosentino. But I bet they'd never guess the demure long-hair and glasses-wearing bassist from that band likes to dress up as a rabbit when he's reinventing trip-hop.
Last night, he closed his instrumental set with an ethereal mix of a diva R&B classic, isolating the vocal's gospel power because “…this is what it's all about. This is the best stuff,” he said later, handing me a list of his top five R&B songs: Ciara “Ohh,” Keisha Cole “Love,” Destiny's Child “Jumpin Jumpin,” Mary J. Blige “Just Fine,” and Aaliyah “Try Again.”
“Is there nothing left for me?” Avi asks in “What's In It For?”–his voice shooting up to the same register as the Strange Boys' Ryan Sambol. There's plenty for him, actually, having signed with legendary Seattle label Sub Pop at an age memorable to most boys for little more than being able to vote and legally buy porn and cigarettes.
He and Rebecca Coleman split melody duties between guitar and keys, as Sheridan Riley (drums) and Arin Fazio (bass) conjure up detailed rhythms.
The band's advanced playing skills fold around succinct romantic lines. “Your lips are like little pieces of bacon,” Avi sings, sharing his love story with keyboardist Rebecca, who broke his heart once or twice. Nostalgia set in, realizing that the existential questions in these love songs are only renewed after too much experience at age 26.