Monday, December 2, 2013

Concert Review - Grand Buffet Album Release Show, Night One - Brillobox - 11-29-13

Shortly before he took the stage at Brillobox Friday, Jarrod Weeks, better known as Lord Grunge, walked through the crowd, to shake hands and hug well-wishers.  There was little distinction between fan and friend among the adoring audience. Grand Buffet has been performing sometimes-absurd, always entertaining rap for well over fifteen years now, and this, the first of two sold-out album release shows, had the feel of a victory lap for the duo.
     Grunge was waiting for his long-time musical partner to reappear.  Jackson O'Connell-Barlow, who goes by Mrs. Paintbrush these days, had just opened for Buffet; and yes, he noted the strangeness of essentially opening for himself.  He performed songs off his new solo album, Duke 2.  (We didn't make it to the second night of this album release doubleheader, but can only assume that Grunge opened for the two Saturday, performing songs from his new solo album.)
     Jackson's solo stuff won't disappoint Grand Buffet fans.  "Zydechost" is about death, hitchhikers, and Billy Joel.  Tamar Kamin of The Van Allen Belt joined in on a "soft-ass" Iron Maiden cover (because, Jackson said, he's "tryin' to get the WYEP money").  Later, Jackson said he "injected the penis blood of the bass player from REO Speedwagon into [his] thigh" prior to the show.  The crowd loved every bit of it.
     When Jackson finally did join Grunge onstage, the two didn't waste a moment performing fan favorites, like "Benjamin Franklin Music" and "Cream Cheese Money." The tempo was ecstatic, and the crowd sang along with every chorus, and laughed at pair's well-honed stage banter between songs. At one point, after he asked Grunge about his recent ureteroscopy, Jackson turned to the crowd and asked if anyone had heard of the procedure.  Dismayed that no one did, he yelled out something to the effect of "we've been around for how long, and none of you are surgeons yet?" It was not only a nod to the duo's longevity, but also an acknowledgement of the fans who have supported them all that time.
     I couldn't escape the feeling that show might be one of the last remaining gigs for Grand Buffet.  Even though Grunge told WYEP that there is a new Grand Buffet album in the works for next year, band member solo albums are frequently an indicator that the end is near (see Outkast, like 100 Wu-Tang spinoffs, and, uh, The Beatles).  Moreover, how long can Grand Buffet survive? The guys are going on forty, and Jackson has a son. They've developed their cult following through relentless touring. Surely this unlikely outfit can't go on rapping about haunted fucking gazebos forever.
      Whatever the future holds, Friday night was a fine reminder that there are plenty of fans, especially in Pittsburgh, who don't want to see this wonderful, unlikely ride end just yet.  They sold out shows on consecutive with little to no publicity. Grand Buffet are still beloved, still outrageous, and still hilarious.
     Fans looking to purchase the new albums can find them at Sound Cat Records in Bloomfield.  

-- B. Conway


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