Astronaut Lost – Buffalo – Pearl Street Cellar Bar, NY – 2001-05-11

Astronaut Lost
Where: Buffalo – Pearl Street Cellar Bar, NY.

When: 2001-05-11

It took me exactly 13 days of living in upstate New York to chance upon some amazing local bands. I originally decided to attend this show, which was located about an hour and a half away from my new home, because I liked what I’ve heard from Palomar Sky Survey, and that band’s drummer was kind enough to offer me directions. Plus, it had been way, way too long since I’ve been to a good show. It was hard to resist.

My first exposure to a Buffalo concert was a good one. The venue, downstairs from a trendy brewpub, was quite nice, with big tables and plenty of seats around the bar as well. Plus, the pool tables were free, they had excellent beer (from the brewpub), and the cover was only $5. It helped that the place wasn’t terribly crowded. A local cable access television station had two guys filming the first two bands, which kept the area in front of the bands fairly empty, but at least it meant you could get a great view while sitting down.

I couldn’t quite figure out who the first band was until I asked afterward. Their drum set had a Gifted Children sticker on it, so I was confused. But Astronaut Lost blew me away and probably ended up being my favorite band of the night. Their style alternated between swirling, shoegazing indie rock ala Juno and a more intense rock sound. They had hints of punk and pop in there, and all of these things were often mixed into a single song. With several instrumentals and the use of some samples, their set never got boring. They also nicely mixed male and female vocals, and their drummer was just astounding. All in all, these guys were incredible, and I bought one of their last two copies of their CD. Look for a review of the very impressive EP soon.

Palomar Sky Survey played all three songs I knew, the ones from their 7″, which included a cover of an Elvis Costello song. I liked the trio’s new songs even more, however. They had a more poppy quality live than many bands, who end up sounding edgier live, and the music was very tight. Unfortunately, the male vocals were a bit too mixed in with the bass and ended up sounding way to reverby, but the female vocals were excellent, and you could tell the band was having a lot of fun. The Buffalo band is recording their first full-length now, and I’m looking forward to it.

Finally, The Gifted Children took the stage and had guitar problems all night. That didn’t stop them from having fun, however. Let me start by saying that these guys were drunk. They made no bones about it, even thanking beer quite often. Their set was sprinkled with hilarious banter, including their penchant for saying “F ___” (yes, they didn’t say fuck, just “F whatever”), substituting everything from Creed to the weather. They liked making fun of Creed, although the singer actually did a pretty good Creed cover for about 2 minutes, completely off the cuff.

The Gifted Children sound quite a bit like Guided By Voices, even down to the somewhat cryptic lyrics and penchant for shorter songs. At one point, they even started a GBV song, and a cover would have been nice, but they went right into their own songs. Apparently, they also do a Neutral Milk Hotel cover, which says something. But their own songs have a bit more of a poppy feel than GBV, and they mix things up by changing from electric to stand-up bass and throwing in some saxophone. No electric guitars for the entire set, too.

The lead singer (who happens to work about 100 yards from me, I discovered) apologized for being unable to bounce, since the cord to his guitar kept coming out, but he did manage to dance. Well, I should use dance lightly. Maybe having a seizure is more appropriate. It was something that had to be seen to be believed – very funny, and he had audience members trying the squirming dance as well. By the last track, which they almost refused to end, he was hurling himself around, on the stage, on the floor, against the wall, something I don’t think he would have done if he had been sober enough to feel it.

All in all, a fantastic show! All three bands blew me away, and the best thing is, all three are local enough to see many more times. Keep an eye out for Astronaut Lost and Gifted Children reviews, as I had to buy albums, and I expect to hear more great stuff from all three bands.