BUCK 65 + Ridley Bent @ Main Hall

By Stephanie D - Idle Minds - 07/07/2005

Warning: this is a review written by an Idle Mind

It was a warm summer night in Quebexico, and I didn't know what to expect.

After hearing a bitter man named Ridley Bent whine about his psycho ex-girlfriend while playing an acoustic guitar, I stood with my co-host Matty Matt wondering what exactly Buck 65's brand of Hick Hop was going to sound like live. I had listened to an older album, Talkin' Honky Blues, a few times in the past and what came to mind back then were the stylistic similarities to Tom Waits -- particularly Richard Terfry's raspy vocals, strange music, and of course the storytelling. However, what the live show offered was a unique bent on this time-honored tradition. Buck 65 is what happens when you mix Tom Waits, Grandmaster Flash, Stereo Total and the Parisian-style old-school rap. Whether these influences are intentional, Terfry blends these genres to make music that is uniquely his own.

Clearly, Buck 65 knows the value of performing songs, not just playing them behind a backdrop of intense lighting and banners with logos, all meant only to distract, which other musicians have fallen victim to, oh so many times before. Terfry's show, by contrast, was the hip hop version of "Our Town". The stage was sparse and simple and he did not require a band. It was just him, his deep phlegmatic voice, turntables ready to be scratched, pre-recorded tracks of his original music on a mini-disc player, and other samples of songs such as "Venus in Furs" by the Velvet Underground. Finally he shared with us the basic anatomy required for all hell to break loose: a punk-ass rapper, a flaming skeleton on a motorcycle, an innocent connector, and "an idea so crazy it might even work!"

Spaces between songs became elements of the performance too, giving Buck 65 the chance to entertain the audience with banter and anecdotes about his groupies and what he thinks goes on during development meetings at Yamaha. How did they go from making pianos to motorcycles anyway? His answer: an idiot with a crazy idea who sits at the back of the board room.

Buck 65 performed at the Main Hall two nights back-to-back. A packed audience the second night got to witness what Buck 65 said was his first "error-free" performance. It was indeed perfectly timed and executed, and aided only by a tiny notebook that he consulted on occasion. We were treated to the debut performance of a song done entirely in French with his wife, Claire. Buck 65 also performed a new song composed that day that was inspired, according to him, by the previous night's show.

Terfrey expressed his preference for playing smaller venues but, in perfect Idle Minds fashion, also mentioned his weariness to pass gas in such an intimate setting. Whether he gave into these primal urges, I do not know as I was standing in the back by the merch table. And did I mention how much I loved the Buck 65 T-shirts? They were designed with an outline of an antelope branded with the numbers 6-5 across the body. Damn, if only I had 20 bucks (pardon the pun). But I digress. I left the show T-shirtless, but very happy and thoroughly impressed.

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