Back Chat, Chasing Kings, Holy Water Buffalo, John-Ross Boyce & His Troubles @ Velour 10.27

Posted October 31, 2011 in

John-Ross Boyce and His Troubles
This was one of several Halloween shows at Velour, and the venue was upgraded from its usual creepy chapel decor to goofy-scary chapel with the help of Frankenstein behind the drum set and a large skull above the stage. The stage was lit by red and orange lights for most of the show, with some strobe light thrown in for good measure.

John-Ross Boyce and His Troubles all wore skeleton makeup, and a couple of people made jokes about them looking a little bit like Juggalos. Before “Father, Son and The Holy Ghost”, the one song that John-Ross Boyce didn’t sing, James Barlow told the crowd that he “wrote this song during the exorcism of a little girl; she did not survive, God bless her.” This is exactly the kind of band I wanted to see around Halloween, and I always jump at a chance to see them in an all-ages venue (because I’m still under 21), but their country-punk music seems more well-suited for a bar; I figure there’s a reason they play shows at ABG’s--one of the few bars in Provo--more than anywhere else. The album release show for Black Shuck/Old Crow will also be held at ABG’s in mid-November, and I look forward to getting a copy of that to listen to “No Doctors, No Priests,” the song they’ve ended their set with both times I’ve seen them. Mostly I want to know if John-Ross Boyce takes a break to use his inhaler before the final chorus of “I don’t wanna see no doctors, I don’t wanna see no priests!” even on the recording.

I’m not sure if the members of Holy Water Buffalo were dressed up as 19th-century military officers for Halloween, or if they were just imitating the style so loved by The Libertines and The Strokes. Based on their music, which sounds like Julian Casablancas singing for an Americana band, I’m going with the latter. Months ago, there seemed to be a lot of buzz surrounding this band, but now that I finally saw them, I feel like I caught Holy Water Buffalo after their heyday. The music was solid and they played well, but The Troubles are a tough act to follow--Holy Water Buffalo seemed rather apathetic onstage in comparison.

The alt-pop touring act, Chasing Kings, was my least favorite band of the night. I hate to say that because I love when touring bands stop in Provo to play for us--it’s just that all of the songs were too safe to be any fun. Maybe that’s the point, though--the singer’s voice was pleasant, and the music was certainly inoffensive. After being asked to stand up and move to the front, though, I remained seated--Chasing Kings did not make me want to get up and dance. Fewer people stood near the stage than for the two previous bands, so I know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

This was Back Chat’s third show, and I’ve been to all of them because my husband plays lead guitar. They introduced a new, moodier song into their set at this show, which added some variety to their sunny, ‘60s-inspired sound. In comparison to their other two shows, this one was a bit stale and at times the band wasn’t really together. The band is made up of a bunch of musicians from other bands--The Crylics, Tighty Willis, Old Grey Geese--and Cody Rigby has said that he didn’t feel like the band was greater than the sum of their parts yet. That’s still true, but the songs have definitely improved with each show. The vocal harmonies have come together nicely, and “Don’t Believe in Anyone But Me,” the last song in the set, gets better every time I hear it.

I expected a more energetic show than this, but maybe the mixture of midterm-season, colder weather and Halloween was to blame for the lack of life from both the audience and the bands.
John-Ross Boyce and His Troubles Chasing Kings. Photo: James Goatcher Holy Water Buffalo