“Brutha sing it!” was one of the many shoutouts from the capacity crowd comprised of a range of fans from hipsters to bikers at The White Buffalo show on a January 13 at the Fonda Theater. The White Buffalo is lead by frontman Jake Smith, the band’s songwriter and guitarist. The hour-plus show, featuring material in the alternative, roots rock, country and folk vein, was a straight-forward affair with minimum interaction with the audience — besides a comment here and there from Smith thanking everyone for coming to the show and acknowledging friends and family in the crowd.
The focus of the night was totally on the music — a fact that no doubt garnered the band a very loyal and sizable following, hooking listeners in with good material. Several of the songs have been featured on TV shows including “Sons of Anarchy” and “Californication.” Recently, the song, “The Observatory,” from the band’s latest album, Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights was featured in a “This Is Us” episode. The engrossing and effortless set featured both new material and what Smith called his “old classics.”
The performance rested on the strength of Smith’s incredibly rich and soaring baritone voice, as well as the Everyman, highly descriptive, colorful and outlaw-ish nature of his storytelling through song — much of which explored the complexity of love and relationships. The natural onstage interplay, camaraderie and chemistry between Smith, bassist Christopher Hoffee and drummer Matt Lynott (who Smith affectionately called “The Machine”) also factored into this richly satisfying show. Smith’s son Tanner even joined the band onstage as a special guest, playing guitar for a few songs.
The set was a success on all accounts. There was nothing about the performance that felt forced or staged. It was just a band (albeit a fantastic one) who clearly enjoying playing together and have the utmost respect for one another. As the core three-piece, they were dynamic, taut and powerful. Smith, though very tall in stature and physically quite large, is incredibly nimble and light on his feet; he was in constant motion on the stage, very enthusiastic and often jumped up on the drum riser to jam in unison with Lynott. It was a passionate, exciting and electrifying performance. Though it’s early in the year, White Buffalo’s show can be counted as one of best concerts so far in 2018. They will be a hard act to follow. White Buffalo sets the bar very high with its creative and original talents.