What can I say about the magnificent White Buffalo that I haven’t said before? Watching him in action for the first time last night was a sight to behold. His massive frame ambled up to the stage around 9:30 pm and with that deep baritone he bellowed to the crowd, Opening for rising star Gary Clark Jr., The Buffalo or Jake Smith did what he did best: played a kick ass show.
“Alright motherfuckers” Smith said and proceeded to rock the hell out of the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. There was a diverse mix of people that I haven’t seen here, even in my time in this town within the confines of a city. There were a group of businessmen in suits standing directly in front of us that stood out, especially with women fondling the young one’s suit every time they walked by. There were also some obvious L.A. transplants with their V-Necks and attempts to hide their metrosexualness with bad humor and awkwardness. And, of course, there were the hipsters that seem to invade every show with their melancholy outlook on everything.
It was a treat to speak with White Buffalo or Mr. Buffalo if you will, before the show as he was so nice and affable. As his star rises you’d think some sort of arrogance would have emitted from that large frame of his, but there isn’t a touch of it. He played so aggressively that it was like a gospel revival in the woods. People were stomping along, smoking joints and as the smoke went up the sweat of acoustic punk rock came down.
Smith sang tunes from his forthcoming album Once Upon a Time in the West (out February 28) and from his earlier EPs. At one point, while banging on the guitar with such a furious rhythm he broke a string and without missing a beat he continued through the song before grabbing a new guitar for the next one.
Hitching to his wagon is something I gladly have done. He is a fantastic artist and the past, present and future of the country music scene. This is that sound they’ve been waiting for. That crossover sound that makes people in big cities say they like listening to country music. This isn’t Tim McGraw or Brad Paisley country. No, this is Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash country. This is get the fuck out of my way outlaw country. This is White Buffalo country and as the legend goes there are merely one per ten million so the sheer scarcity must explain the awe-inspiring greatness of it. With his long hair and larger than life stature to go with an extremely pleasant personality perhaps he is the Navajo legend incarnate destined to become that rare gem in a sea of averageness.