Review by Seth Rogovoy
Photography by Sabina Curti
(HUDSON, N.Y.) – On paper, what the Budos Band is going for is quite promising – an instrumental fusion of funk, Ethiopian grooves and Black Sabbath-style heavy metal. And in concert at Club Helsinki Hudson on Friday night, the musicians hinted at even sharper stylistic intentions, attempting a melding of Nirvana-style grunge-rock with Ornette Coleman-derived downtown avant-jazz.
Surely somewhere, and perhaps at some point with this band, the results could be a sterling, suggestive alloy. But it wasn’t quite there yet, and what was left was mostly a mishmash, with styles competing with each other rather than complementing each other, with others getting left behind, and with the entirety coming across as unrefined musical sludge.
The original melodies, such as they were, very much recalled Nirvana’s minor-key stompers, but were rendered without that group’s uncanny loud-quiet dynamics. The Budos Band seemingly left any dynamics back home in Staten Island, and played everything at the same level – jazzy horn parts; metallic guitar solos; and pedestrian rhythms.
The group’s two horn-playing frontmen seemed discouraged from the outset at the lack of response of the crowd – a crowd which did eventually come around to enjoying the show, with a moderately packed dance floor – instead of realizing that there was something off-putting or uninviting about its music and performance. From the get-go, they seemed to be fighting – the band itself seemed to be at least three separate groups not conversing with each other (horns; guitars and bass; and percussion all seemed in their own worlds). Their verbal entreaties to the crowd to stand up and dance came across as scolding more than invitations, and in fact, their lack of funk was more to blame than any shyness among the attendees.
In the end, what was needed was more Memphis and less Seattle.