Buckner & Bachmann
Richard Buckner and ex-Guided by Voices guitarist Doug Gillard sat in small folding chairs on Local 506's dim stage, which made the stout Buckner appear particularly gigantic. His meaty hands ministered to his acoustic guitar with time-honed ease, while Gillard embroidered those warm phrases with wiry electric filigrees that matched his gaunt, sharp-featured countenance.
For a "folk" musician, Buckner sure does like technology. Forgoing banter, he used a looping pedal and an E-bow to slot miniature sound collages between songs, creating a sense of tidal flux that complemented the music's hermetic logic. He played his songs close to the hip, allowing some concessions to practicality: The efflorescent piano of "Before" was replaced by acoustic guitar, and the set contained no percussion at all. But whatever was lost in full-band power was gained in intimacy.
The brilliance of Buckner's music lies in its infinite subjectivity. He doesn't necessarily have crowd-pleasers. Every song is someone's favorite, and, at any moment, you could find pockets of fans with eyes shut tight, letting the gritty honey of Buckner's voice and sparkling clouds of guitar take them to a deeply interior place where no one else could go.
Ex-Archer of Loaf turned troubadour Eric Bachmann is a talented musician who makes good albums, but I just don't get the appeal of his live set. Maybe I'm too young to be wistful for Chapel Hill's indie rock glory days, but--especially after the humble subtlety of Buckner's set--Bachmann's seemed overstated and self-satisfied. When you're a hometown hero playing to a reverent crowd of old friends, acquaintances and nostalgic scenesters, you can get away with anything. But I had to wonder: Were people actually moved by this foot-stomping, twangy extravaganza, or was I on the outside of a feedback loop, a transaction between performer and audience that had more to do with shared history and mutual admiration than music? --Brian Howe
Gann & Rouse
Longtime Village Voice new-music critic Kyle Gann will participate in a panel with fellow downtown composer Mikel Rouse on Friday, Sept. 29 at the Carolina Inn. Rouse will be in town to present his The End Of Cinematics, a multimedia performance lamenting the decay of cinematic culture, on Thursday and Friday at Memorial Hall. Gann first met Rouse in 1989 while Rouse was performing at The Knitting Factory with his chamber ensemble Broken Consort. Rouse's work is known for its complicated but immediate interlocking polyrhythms and overarching narrative structures. Gann, the first critic to use the word totalism in print, is an accomplished composer in his own right: His work combining Native American rhythmic techniques and post-minimalist theory is peerless. For more on Gann, see www.indyweekblogs.com/scan. --Grayson Currin