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Tuesday, 10 December 2013 10:00

Concert review: The Weeks (with Buffalo Rodeo and Heyrocco) do battle at the Firebird, Thursday, December 5

Concert review: The Weeks (with Buffalo Rodeo and Heyrocco) do battle at the Firebird, Thursday, December 5 facebook.com/theweeksmusic
Written by Blair Stiles
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Snow covered a parking lot occupied by a dozen vehicles. The wintry mix came late but was welcomed by the bands and patrons leaning against the Firebird's brick walls.

"We were in Louisville yesterday...I did not think this would happen here," Heyrocco's Tanner Cooper said as he shivered out a whisper. He took a long, exaggerated drag on his cigarette. "Louehvulle...That is how you say it, right? Very green."

Inside, Bowling Green, Ky.'s Buffalo Rodeo had started its set. They could probably tell Cooper the correct pronunciation of Kentucky's heralded city of equine races and mint juleps. If not, there is something desperately wrong with the situation -- as when Agent Dale Cooper returns from the Lodge on "Twin Peaks." Instinctively, the watcher is alerted to a disturbance in the force, yet nothing is said to precipitate that thought. The same could be said for the air which hung over the shoulders of the Weeks' crowd.

A scant audience was in attendance. But the 20 or so fans seemed engaged during Buffalo Rodeo's seven-song set. Buffalo Rodeo sounds like a band that has been circulated through enough playlists that it sounds familiar. This is not due to the band's inability to make good music. In fact, Buffalo Rodeo is damn fine. So sewed shut are any holes in its oeuvre, that its placement as the night's opener was, well, misplaced. A sophomoric act would have been better suited.

Lead singer, Zach Preston sang with the roof of his mouth and pushed air through his nostrils to affect a handsome teenage drawl. Preston appears to be older than his voice, but can manipulate his gift enough that he pushes his tone all around his mouth, which gives him room to use his voice casually. This causes a vocal pattern that harmonizes with keyboardist and vocalist Jordan Reynolds without placing her smaller vocals in a vice. In fact, Reynolds' voice was clear over guitarist Nathaniel Davis' pedal-centric swirls that created a full-bodied, surreal indie-rock sound. Smart arrangements on tracks "Treehouse" and "The Map" revealed impractical, experimental, even tight textures. The same could not be said for The Weeks' supporting band, Heyrocco.

The audience, the majority of which had their shit together, and a loquacious drunk who did not, grew quieter as the night progressed. It was the polite quiet which caused the disruptive feeling viewers of "Twin Peaks" are privy to. At least Heyrocco was loud enough, unnecessarily so, that the audience's silence was not so awkward during its seven song diatribe. Heyrocco, comprised of three 19 or 20-year-olds, overcompensated for its lack of members (and experience) by gratuitous showmanship. Heyrocco's songs speak for themselves: sorghum power-punk laced with lyrics centered on post-adolescent doldrums. Lyrical content with subject matter that's subacute for anyone who has ever been mortified in front of a girl or guy they liked.

Singer/guitarist Nathan Jake spins tales of pre-ejaculation and mom jeans with a caw that has the consistency of a rawhide impervious to saliva. For every superfluous growl or moan, he delivered an out-of-tune solo to bolster Heyrocco's jejune brand of rock 'n' roll. Bassist Chris Cool was solid -- like the singular ice cube freshly deposited in a glass of room temperature water. His chords created the appropriate base for Cooper's messy percussion and Jake's stabbing guitar malarkey. Cooper had moments where his fills revealed a percussionist with rhythmic awareness. When he is asked to be a role player, he comes through, and radiates potential. Mostly, Heyrocco flung its music around the stage like toddlers waving wet spaghetti noodles.

The Weeks had a difficult set. Stifled by a bad mix where Uel Dee's guitar (damn is he good, though) was up far too high. Cain Barnes' drums and Cyle Barnes vocals were cut too low. Damien Bone's bass was barely audible and the keys were not heard at all. Everything managed to be muffled. Several fans grew irritated by the poor mix. One went so far as to give me copies of the Weeks' past work so I could "hear what they really sound like." Despite the mix, the Weeks' songwriting fortitude was not lost. "Dear Bo Jackson," even in the wake of the guitar's ear-pinching volume level, showcased both of Cyle Barnes' abilities. His voice has a monotone pitch that reacts solely to his ability to emote with his instrument. Cyle came across angry, jaded, and could tear apart any Rancid track of his liking.

The Weeks battled against the mix and an audience that Cyle tried to cajole into sounding out their feelings. "Y'all are so polite...you can talk y'know...even if it's amongst yourselves." This, naturally, lead to a boorish audience member rattling off inebriated opinions. Cyle wisely ignored him. "The House We Grew Up In" was a joy to watch for bassist Bone's skittering jitterbug. "Buttons" was the crowd pleaser. What could be discerned by Cyle's body language was his readiness to end the night. He crossed an arm over his stomach, cocked a hip and anchored his elbow on it while he gazed in Dee's direction. Cyle stepped over to Dee and drew his face nearer. Dee's rested his forehead against Barnes and bit his nose...and thusly docked the tail off a beastly night of Buffalo Rodeo's apparent smarts, Heyrocco's bizarre antics and the Weeks' own set, which by the end, we all should have been thankful for. A lesser band would have given up.

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