Richard Buckner at IOTA
Michael Ferguson: I wasn’t sure what to expect when Richard Buckner, flanked by three guitars, sat down in front of the microphone at Iota Café on December 4; I had never seen him perform live, and I knew his music mostly from a couple of his recent releases on Merge Records. Buckner began his set without introduction and continued playing, without pausing between songs or even allowing space for applause, for well over an hour. He was unaccompanied, but effects pedals enabled him to create a big, layered sound when the music called for it. I was surprised by the variety of his songs, which ranged from sweeping harmonic drone sequences buttressed by delay-box rhythms to unadorned acoustic pieces that highlighted his abilities as a singer-songwriter. In several songs, he used an EBow, and the results were almost psychedelic—--far from the alt-country style often associated with Buckner. What made the set cohere was Buckner’s low, undulating voice, which, for me, began to have a hypnotic effect after a few songs. In fact, I was so absorbed in the music that I didn’t realize until I turned around to go to the bar midway through the set that half of the audience had left. By the end of the night, only thirty or forty people remained in the room--which was a shame, because Buckner’s performance was worth sticking around for.