Having finally found its in-studio niche, which entailed moving away from too-raw punk noise toward a more structured pop-roots style, Massachusetts-based trio Buffalo Tom now puts its musical resolve to the ultimate test — a Los Angeles concert stage.
The band’s new Beggars Banquet album “Big Red Letter Day,” its fourth full-lengther, is a happy medium-type affair that successfully bridges the Tom’s penchant for roughshod guitar noise and its hook-filled songwriting leanings, the result a compelling sound that works quite well on stage.
“Tree House,””I’m Allowed” (the best song the band has written and probably a future hit single) and the Dinosaur jr.-like “Sodajerk,” all from the new album, were offered early in a 75-minute set that was less bombastic and more engaging than the band’s last L.A. appearance, in1992 at the Whiskey.
Buffalo Tom did seem a bit stiff at times and in concert many of its songs walk too-similar musical lines, but the band’s continuing maturation as songwriters and its accessible, stripped-down modern rock sound indicate, at the least, a band that’s yet to hit its creative peak.
Second-billed Bettie Serveert, the much-lauded Dutch four-piece that last year was the prize of a record company bidding-war (Atlantic-distributed Matador won out), more than justified all of the hype with a dynamic hour-plus show that was dizzying in its subtle complexities and refreshing in its surprising casualness.
The band exudes a restless musical vibe that pays homage to such disparate influences as the Velvet Underground (“Kids Allright”), the Lemonheads and Crazy Horse (thanks to Peter Visser’s feedback-happy guitar).
Openers the Verlaines, usually a captivating band on stage, had a bit of an off night. Playing to a mostly empty hall at 7:15, the New Zealanders offered tracks from their fine new “Way Out Where” (Slash) album but managed to create very little energy or excitement.