Live Review & Photos: The White Buffalo at the Belly Up, April 28, 2012

Photos by Sylvia Borgo

The White Buffalo (aka Jake Smith) sings about murder. He sings about prostitution, dark memories, and drunkenness. He sings about love. He also played a sold-out show at the Belly Up on Saturday.

One of the best and most powerful folk/countryish-rock singers of recent years, Smith has a riveting baritone that keeps crowds hanging on every syllable. His voice is similar to Eddie Vedder’s, only deeper, fuller, and more convincingly pained.

Touring to support his debut LP, Once Upon a Time in the West, Smith brought along bassist Tommy Andrews, who has quite a San Diego following (one fan hollered repeatedly, “T.A! T.A! I love you T.A!”), and drummer Matt Lynott to round out his sound. Smith, Andrews, and Lynott, combined with a guest musician on lap steel guitar, brought an incredible amount of expertise to the stage.

Including the encore, the band played over 20 songs, and the crowd stayed anchored in place until around 1 a.m. Highlights of the set were “Everynight, Everyday,” “Damned,” “The Pilot,” “John Jameson” — which Smith dedicated to anyone in the crowd who likes whiskey — and “Love Song #1,” which he wrote for his “beautiful woman.”

The opening band, Dead Feather Moon, was a treat to see. These San Diegans have a strong, loyal following and it is easy to see why: on stage, they are inviting, easy-going, and completely focused on playing good, good music. Fans of the band pressed themselves to the front of the stage and sang along to crowd favorites “Dark Horse,” “Everything I Haven’t Said,” and “My Sun.” The band ended its set with a great performance of “Hellhounds.” Next time Justen Berge, Jesse Kling, Tyler Soule, Chris Bowling, and Greg Peters hit a stage, make sure to catch their show – they put on a good one.

Milow (pronounced Milo), a singer/songwriter from Belgium, opened up for Dead Feather Moon. He resided in San Diego a few years back and mentioned that he always hoped he would play at the Belly Up. Milow releases his new album in July.

The White Buffalo, Dead Feather Moon, and Milo at the Belly Up – April 28, 2012 – by Sylvia Borgo

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