Live Review: Buffalo Tom

Bowery Ballroom  New York, NY

Contact: [email protected]

Web: buffalotom.com

Players: Bill Janovitz, guitar, vocals; Chris Colbourn, bass, vocals; Tom Maginnis, drums

Material: Buffalo Tom is certainly not new to the music scene. Their brand of alternative rock has kept fans in the fold for several decades. Formed in 1986 by three college friends, Buffalo Tom’s bandmates have proven loyalty to each other as well as to their fans. Their material is at times quirky and lyrically cryptic, but musically straightforward. They kicked off the set with “Torch Singer,” a jangly guitar-driven number about a love out of reach: "There’s some things I’ve got to say/She won’t understand anyway/There are miles between our hearts/There’s salvation in false starts/ I’m forsaken in the end." In a lament, “Summer,” though musically up-tempo, speaks to regrets with poetic imagery: "Summer’s letters on the ground/ Seven pins, the fall begins/ When the leaves burn summer ends." They also resurrected “Do You In,” one of their earlier compositions and a Buffalo Tom classic. 

Musicianship: For a group of just three members, the band exudes high energy with signature guitar sounds. Janivitz’s scrappy, Dylan-esque “unpolished” sound, works well with the band’s overall vibe and delivery. Their user-friendly musical approach favors authenticity over slickness.

Performance: With an uber enthusiastic reception, the band could do no wrong. Their lengthy setlist was followed by six encores which fans reveled in. For a new listener, the amount of material could be overwhelming but diehard fans received the full Buffalo Tom experience with songs covering the spectrum from their decades together.

Summary: To maintain a fan base for as long as this band has, speaks to their ability to connect with their audience. For many, it’s the nostalgia of a time in their life, which obviously connects with the band’s sound and style. They might want to consider shaving down the set, especially for newcomers to their music as there is much to digest. They have a new album titled Jump Rope, which will be released in May.