Review and Photos by Andy ArgyrakisThe buzz is quickly rising around The Buzzhorn, a Milwaukee based rock and roll quartet with a rollicking arsenal of fervent vocal delivery and heart pounding sonic electrification. Unlike most relatively new bands that dive right into the touring circuit, The Buzzhorn spent two years after their inception in 1996 honing their chops outside of the public eye. They waited until 1998 to record their independent debut A Complete Package of Action Packed Tragedies and didn't make their first trip to the stage until its release. A self-titled CD followed in 2000, and regional audience support propelled the band into other parts of the country, eventually attracting the eyes of Atlantic Records, The Buzzhorn's home for their recently released Disconnected project.
Having the label support allowed the group to hit the studio with a bigger budget than ever before and a chance to record with acclaimed producer Howard Benson (P.O.D., Motorhead). The result is a lively testament that rock and roll is still alive and well, a sentiment The Buzzhorn also verified upon pulling into Oasis One Sixty on their current tour. Granted, it may not be the best venue in the Chicagoland area (the food and drink service are insultingly slow and the sleazy jello/mud wrestling ring detracts from the rock and roll mood) but The Buzzhorn managed to clip through an hour-long set of aggressive, distraction free romp.
The feverish growl of the title cut kicked off their show setting the tone for an evening of no-nonsense, straight shooting alternative rock and roll. New tunes like the pulsating album opener "To Live Again" and the infectious potential single "Out of My Hands" soon followed, showcasing the chemistry between vocalist Ryan Mueller and guitarist Bert Zweber. Other members of their rhythm section (bassist Todd Joseph and drummer Rob Bueno) took charge on rough and tumble renditions of "Satisfied" and "Ordinary," and rounded out the yet to be recorded concert finale "Gratitude" with a relentless rumble.
Despite the contagious outpouring of enthusiasm that came from the stage throughout the evening, The Buzzhorn's set lacked balance. Every tune they performed fit into the fast and furious category, leaving out the band's slightly slower, somewhat introspective side. Disconnected features a handful of melodic, momentum building tunes like "Carry Me Home," "Come See Me," "Rhino," and "Holy Man," all of which were ignored in favor of the band's aggressive attack. As unflattering as the club was, it was surely intimate enough for The Buzzhorn to show their softer side, even to the point of scaling back for a brief acoustic set. Although The Buzzhorn chose not to highlight such material, at least they never stooped to the destructive depths of the nu-metal fad or compromised their mighty roar in favor of watered down commercialization. The Buzzhorn has already cleared the bar past the "just got lucky" status, but it's a bit too early to tell if they'll remain for the long haul. As long as they develop equilibrium within their set list, maintain their exhaustive work ethic, and the buzz keeps building, I'm pleased to report that the latter is a feasible possibility.
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