Oh baby, there ever some sweet vibes going down at Cafe Campus on the weekend of March 17th. The White Buffalo strolled into town to wrap up their leg of Canadian tour along with Matthew Barber. If you needed a solid feel-good night, this show was the place to be. It was one of those shows where audience and artist dialed in together to scratch each other’s backs and harness the energy in the room.
By the time Matthew Barber took the stage, the venue had filled up nicely. It’s always great to see one man take the stage with nothing more than a guitar in hand. The Canadian singer/songwriter’s music was stripped down, humble, and real. He had a twinkle in his eye and a delicacy in his voice that echoed over his soft touch on the guitar. He also displayed versatility by incorporating some harmonica into his set, and even jumped behind the piano for songs like “Back To You.” This track could be heard on his upcoming record Phase Of The Moon, set to release May 4th, 2018. One thing was for sure, people were melting away at the sight and sound of this guy.
The only other act of the night was the mighty White Buffalo. The band’s name is also the stage name of their front man, American singer songwriter Jake Smith. These guys looked like pure American-born, grizzly, lumberjack, cowboy, tough guys. The trio consisted of Smith on acoustic guitar/vocals, Matt Lynott on drums, and Christopher Hoffee on bass/backup vocals. This set up made for a really raw sounding performance. Carrying the music were Smith’s incredible vocals. His voice rang deep and grizzly, and matched his look perfectly. It must also be said that any fans of Eddie Vedder must absolutely give this voice a listen, as there was also a strong country music meets Pearl Jam vibe going on.
The White Buffalo delivered on many fronts, from hammering heavy hearted ballads to zapping the room with upbeat and eccentric tunes. Their latest release is an album called Darkest Dark, Lightest Light, from which they played songs like “Avalon,” a perfect example of the danceable country vibes that the band laid down. You might also recognize The White Buffalo from the hit TV series Sons of Anarchy with tracks such as “Oh Darlin, What Have I Done” being featured on the shows soundtrack; those tracks showed the more haunting sound the band delivered. One of the most eerie moments could easily be the intro to the song “The Whistler.” Smith opened the song with a bone chilling, lonely whistle that rings crisply as though through the dead desert air.
The crowd was picking up everything band was putting down. When it came to the end of the night, an encore was deservingly in order. Smith returned to the stage to perform a few songs on his own before putting a wrap to the show. Among these few songs was a cover “Highwayman” by the legendary country super group The Highwaymen. This group featured Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson. It was a great cover, especially considering he pulled it off on his own. Afterward the band came back out to talk with fans and take a few pictures, which is always a nice gesture and a great way to show appreciation for the people making these shows possible. It was a night of overall great music and performance by a group of beauties. The White Buffalo will now be trekking over to Europe, but these dudes play so often it’s insane. So follow them on social media and hopefully you’ll score a gig eventually. Best of luck on the road, White Buffalo.
Written by Ben Cornel
Photography by Thomas Gentil
*edited by Danielle Kenedy