The Buffalo music scene is as diverse and fragmented as any major American city. People speak of local legends who have made it in the big time (ie commercial success) and when rattling off names associated with Buffalo, the range of styles is staggering: Ani DiFranco, Spyro Gyra, Cannibal Corpse, Mercury Rev, Moe, Goo Goo Dolls, Harold Arlen?
One local band worthy of a larger audience but seemingly destined for mythical status only is Bobo . The cognoscenti of the Buffalo bar band scene seldom have an indifferent reaction to Bobo and its focal point/lead singer Jimmer Phillips. This pop/pub-rock/punk band formed over 15 years ago by Phillips and lead guitarist Frank Sterlace. As alumnus of Buffalo proto-alterative bands: the Moment and Splat Cats (respectively), they have been joined by a rotating cast rounding out the band over the years which has included members of Jackdaw, Tremendo, Goo Goo Dolls, Doombuggy and others. The current and long-time line up is rounded out with producer Marc Hunt on Bass and Drummer Pat Shaughnessy.
The focal point of Bobo remains Jimmer; described by local rock critic Donnie Kutzbach as “… some kind of twisted cross between John Lennon and Johnny Thunders, Phillips’ skill to write unforgettable, hook-heavy garage pop nuggets was perhaps matched only by his knack for self-destruction and personal rock and roll immolation.”
Those who have witnessed Jimmer in his cringe-inducing anti-PC onstage ramblings can attest, it is somewhat like being in a real-life Curb Your Enthusiasm scene that you would just like to be anywhere else but in the same room. The flipside of that is the payoff of incredible live energy of the band kicking through a set of original brit-pop/garage-rock inspired songs.
Jimmer can come across as a slightly affectionate doppelganger to Gary Oldman. If you meet him during the day or early evening, it is hard to imagine this overly friendly gangly fellow will later be onstage channeling the ghosts of Stiv Bators and Shane McGowan (Some people are surprised to learn that Shane McGowan is in fact still alive. Interestingly enough, this same reaction is often applied to Jimmer)
It has been over a year since the last Bobo “reunion” which was anticipated as a car wreck worth rubbernecking for. Instead it was a solid set with a well-behaved Jimmer. If it’s one thing that can be counted on, it is not knowing what to expect, but being in the presence of mythology in the making is nothing to scoff at.
Bobo returns to the Mohawk Place in downtown Buffalo Saturday Aug 7, 2010.
Opening the show at 10pm will be Buffalo’s neo-Pshychedlia superstars, Oui 73.
The best five bucks you will spend this year to see 2 memorable bands.
Hear Bobo’s unreleased single, Sunday Afternoon here.