Joe Driscoll and Buffalo Huddleston – The Fermain Tavern – 12/09/14

Joe Driscoll
Joe Driscoll

With summer festival season over one of the bands who were a major highlight of all the local festivals, Buffalo Huddleston, rounded off a week of gigs across the Channel Islands with a set supporting Joe Driscoll at The Fermain Tavern.

Their set started off in low-key form with frontman Mike Meinke on stage alone treating us to Peeping Through The Windows, an impressive tune that has long been one of his calling cards but, in the full band line up, rarely makes it into the set these days. Throughout the track Mike used a series of loops of acoustic guitar to build up the music, and foreshadow tonight’s headliner.

Following the technically impressive start the rest of the band joined Mike on stage and ran through a selection of their songs that have become well enough known to get people on the dancefloor and singing along from the start.

Buffalo Huddleston
Buffalo Huddleston

As ever, part of the way through the set, MC Jull-Z took to the stage with the band and it was here that this already hot set really took off. With Chillin’ the crowd were singing back every word and for the most part, this trend continued with at least all the choruses for the rest of the set.

With Jull-Z on stage, joining Mike as co-frontman, the dynamic changed allowing Mike more scope to focus on his guitar and vocals and relax into it, while the MC took on the banter with the audience, and things built to a big climax with an encore called for, and delivered.

Before that though, newer song Sunrise provided a highlight as it seemed to be stripped back at the start yet built to the same ‘hoe-down’ crescendo.

Jull-z and Mike Meinke
Jull-z and Mike Meinke

While Buffalo Huddleston played a very good set tonight, it was the crowd that really took it up to the next level as the response was on a par with those seen by few, save The Recks, in recent years.

Following that, visiting artist Joe Driscoll continued with the night’s big audience response as he took to the stage with a pair of mics, guitar, loop station and various other musical bits and bobs. Using all of these he built up each track combining beatboxing, percussion, bass affected & electric guitar and vocals.

Seeing this done live, as with Mike earlier, is always very impressive and Joe takes the process to a fairly extreme level and certainly this technique creates something that, in this situation, provides music that feels like more than the sum of its constituent parts.

Joe Driscoll
Joe Driscoll

Unfortunately, a bit like a card trick, once you know the process the novelty of how the tracks are made (even when done live and in the flesh) does start to wear off and, for me, the hip-hop and funk inflected sounds became somewhat repetitive and the performance/production side wasn’t enough to carry them through.

As is often the case in situations like these though, I seemed to be in a minority, as every song was greeted with loud applause and a lot of dancing and Joe had the audience packed onto the dancefloor at the Tav and engrossed for the full hour and a half he was stage, which takes some doing.

So, while I wasn’t really won over by the significantly hyped visitor, Joe Driscoll still played a very well delivered and received set that had the Fermain Tavern dancing to the bitter end, but, for me, Buffalo Huddleston were the highlight continuing their run of great form as they prepare for the release of their debut album next month.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

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