The Buddies at Empty Bottle 12/22/11

Empty Bottle has often been a place of discovery for me. The first time I passed through that entry way, it was to see The Yeah Yeah Yeahs the spring before Fever To Tell dropped. Subsequent visits introduced me to acts such as Neutral Uke Hotel, Angel Olsen, Silverghost, and on this night, The Dirty Pigeons. To go along with that discovery, there were a couple familiar faces; namely The Canoes and The Buddies.

I first met The Canoes over the summer. Their record, Roger, was sent to me a while back. I loved it. They played a show at Bottom Lounge in the Volcano Room that was tremendous. They even played a cover of “Alison Road” by the Gin Blossoms just for me. I was excited to see them again.

They didn’t disappoint. The Teller boys were singing their hearts out, and Sam was kicking it in the drums like a champ. They played a new tune, which I think was called “Momses,” but I could most definitely be wrong. It was pretty sweet, but not as good as my favorite song of theirs which they closed their set with, “American English.”

After The Canoes finished up, we got a bit of a treat: Coley asked Kari to take some shots of the band down in the green room. A great honor for her, as she’s still learning the ins and outs of serious photography, but manages to come up with amazing shots every time we hit a show. It was great for me because I got to hang out down there where Nick Zinner and countless other brilliant musicians have relaxed before shows.

Everyone in the band was beyond nice. Very gracious that we liked their band and had nice words for them. Kari took some shots and I stood off to the side, watching the group try to come up with different poses. It was clear from this peek behind the curtain that they get along famously. It was nice to feel like part of the group for a bit, but eventually Kari finished up and we went back up to the stage area where Dirty Pigeons were already more than halfway through their set.

Have you heard of Dirty Pigeons? I had, very briefly, heard something about them being pretty good. Watching them, I was shocked how right whoever told me that was. Their guitarist/vocalist is ridiculously talented. He shreds in a way that reminds me of Neil Young and sings with a confident voice. I grabbed one of their free CDs, but I haven’t had a chance to listen yet. If you have the time, check them out!

After that set it was time for the main event. We saw The Buddies back in September I think, at Double Door. That was the bands first show in Chicago, and it was a scorcher. They burned up the stage like a Great White concert. This time it was a little more laid back, but still awesome.

There aren’t a lot of bands that can simultaneously sound like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Replacements, but The Buddies don’t much care for genre specificity. The Collins’ that made up Nashville’s Pale Blue Dot lend some southern charm to Coley’s punk singer/songwriter aesthetic and the result is a sound perfect for an evening of drinking that may or may not end in bloodshed.

Coley Kennedy is a frontman’s frontman. He knows all the tricks and moves to make him a god on stage. But my favorite moments were when he took a step back, watching Scott and Justin Collins with Pete Javier jamming on their guitars while Kim Collins and Jeremy Barrett laid down the beat. It was in these spots where I felt he was having the most fun, relishing the knowledge that he’s put together a band of amazing musicians.

One thing I’ve always liked about Coley, and this goes back to when he fronted Welcome To Ashley, is that he takes it seriously. A lot of musicians think its cool to seem aloof, or like they’re better than everyone else. He and his band work hard and practice to be as good they can, and they show it on stage. There isn’t a lot of messing around, it’s just balls to the wall rock and roll. The Buddies are exactly the kind of band you go somewhere like Empty Bottle to see.