Buxton, Papermoons, Deep Kvts FItzgerald's November 30, 2013
Ten years gone. How the hell did that happen? Long before the New West days, before the band had five members (or six or four or three), and definitely before they all had those adorable little beards, Buxton first started putting pen to paper and pick to strings.
They didn't have a drummer when the band first started, and could have easily been classified in the same category as Dashboard Confessional and other standard emo fare of the early 2000s, but the only thing that mattered was that those youngsters, sitting in their parents' homes in La Porte, decided to start a band with little hope they'd be playing to a packed room of their family, friends and fans a cool decade later.
These five guys have firmly planted themselves into our Houston music culture, and are some of the friendliest dudes you could ever possibly spark up a conversation with. I'm proud to call each and every one of them my good friends, and while that makes it a bit hard to write an unbiased review, there really is no need to worry about it. Even if I were a casual observer and didn't know them personally, I still would have left this show with a beaming smile upon my face.
The evening began with two really great local offerings in the form of Deep Cuts (or Deep Kvts as the kids are calling them these days) and the recently reformed Papermoons. Deep Cuts, have been the talk of the town as of late, and they showed just why with a performance of danceable tracks that were full of jangly guitars and quite heavy on the percussion -- just how they should be. They seemed to have the attention of the growing crowd from start to finish, and I could count on ten hands how many times I overheard people saying that they really dug them.
Papermoons, who haven't really played many live shows in the past three or four years, are finally starting to reemerge from their lengthy hibernation. Their pre-headliner slot gave them a chance to show why they received so many accolades back in the day, and also allowed them to feed the crowd a handful of new songs they've been working on over the past year. While the performance was on the mellow side, it was still really good and showed promise for what's to come from the storied indie-rock duo.
And then Buxton came. Ten years of Buxton, displayed in all of their glory over the course of the evening. The band, who has been busy working on a new record set to be released in 2014, currently consists of lead vocalist and all-around sex kitten Sergio Trevino, the tall and dapper guitar virtuoso Jason Willis, part-time guitarist, part-time organist, some of the time accordionist and all-the-time cutie Austin Sepulvado, ladies' man and drummer extraordinaire Justin Terrell and "the pretty one," bassist Chris Wise. These guys have made up the core of the band for several years now, and were the main focus of the nearly two-hour showcase.
Like any band, Buxton's usual live show focuses mostly on their latest material, only peppering in a few songs from their past. This, though, being a celebration of their entire history as a band, found them playing music from every step of the way. Their new, as-yet-unreleased stuff was still strongly represented, especially with the tasty set-opener "Good as Gone," but it was the classic tunes that we were all there to hear.
Review continues on the next page.
A celebration of the band's past ten years wouldn't be complete without inviting out those who helped them get to where they are today. The first guest appearance came from Kellen Humphrey who, as Trevino noted before her arrival to stage, hadn't sang with the band for more than seven years. She offered support vocals on A Family Light's "Flame" and the so-old-it-was-new-to-me "Bad Penny" from their first effort as a band, Red Follows Red.
After a few more songs, Haley Barnes joined the band to lend her vocal support on Light's "Shake Your Hand" and the new tune "Old Haunt." Barnes, who left the band last year to focus on her studies, is always a welcome sight onstage and a good reminder of Buxton's days of being freshly signed to New West with a hard drive full of demos and the entire world ahead of them.
Later in the evening, Grandfather Child's Lucas Gorham joined the group for a rousing slide-guitar solo on "Westward." Flanked by a mandolin-toting Willis to his right, the two of them battled back and forth with vigor. Barnes helped the guys close out the show on Nothing Here Seems Strange's "Boy of Nine" before "Feathers" finished it in fine fashion as the band retreated backstage.
The Buxtons returned with Barnes and Humphrey, as well as labelmates and good friends of the band Cody Swann and Zahira Gutierrez from the Wild Moccasins. They made their way through two Talking Heads covers, "Crosseyed and Painless" and "Life During Wartime," while jumping and dancing their way around the stage. If the first 18 songs were for their fans, friends and family, those last two were for them. It was a charismatic way to finish the show, and had the crowd from front to back jumping around sweating it out until the very end, sometime after 1 a.m.
I first started seeing Buxton in 2007, and was immediately impressed with the (at that time) quartet. Wise reached out to me to come check out the band back in my Breakfast on Tour days, and I finally caught them at one of those Westheimer Block Parties of years past. They were a bit sloppy during that performance, but they had such a true raw potential that I made it a point to see them the next time they were around. And the next time. And the next time. And the next time.
That was a beginning of a love affair with a band that I've tried to tout as highly as I could since that day. In any musical conversation that comes up about Houston's local music scene, Buxton is the first name I mention every single time. Now, many years down the road, they've proved themselves to be so much more than that scraggly group of youngsters playing to only about 20 people in the Helios parking lot on that hot fall day.
Thanks for not making me eat my words, guys, because if this show is any indication, you've made it. Actually, you made it a while ago, but this was just another reaffirmation of that fact.
Personal Bias: I hate everything about them, obviously.
Overheard In the Crowd: A lot of hellos. Buxton is kind of like a family to me, and this was the Thanksgiving of Buxton shows. It was a homecoming of sorts that brought out so many great people from Houston and beyond. As I tweeted that night, "I'm thankful for Buxton."
The Crowd: A strong conglomerate of the Houston music scene mixed in with so many family members and friends the band has made over the past ten years. Basically, just a bunch of really cool people.
Random Notebook Dump: "Try not to s their d too much, Jim." Guess I failed at that.
Good as Gone Each Horse With A Name Flame Bad Penny Be Somebody High Tones Down In The Valley Shake Your Hand Old Haunt Hole in the Back of Your Head Holy Water Revival Lonely Boy Same Mistakes Oh My Boy Mane of Gold Westward Boy Of Nine Feathers
Crosseyed and Painless (Talking Heads cover) Life During Wartime (Talking Heads cover)
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