Buck Meek | Live at Highland Park Ebell Club

As I stood in the line for the 8pm doors for Buck Meek’s LA show, there was a buzz in the cool January air. His sold-out hometown show was sure to be a hit, and the early birds were keen to secure a prime spot for the sure spectacle ahead. Warm blue lighting, fragrant incense, and vintage country tunes set the scene in a historic venue. Highland Park Ebell Club is a beautiful hidden gem of a venue in Los Angeles, and as waves of anticipation break throughout, the crowd prepares themselves for an inevitable thrill. 

Meek’s brother, Dylan, graces the stage as the support act, complete with a party of impeccably talented musicians. They immediately hit the ground running with their eclectic soulful sound. Powerful, nurtured vocals and dynamic, groovy arrangements sustain the audience’s unwavering attention. A remarkable performance sprinkled with exciting solos from the esteemed instrumentalists leaves attendees floating on a high and longing for more; it’s no wonder that Meek cites his younger brother as a source of inspiration. You can expect much more jazzy brilliance from Dylan Meek in the future, who also contributed piano and synths on Meek’s latest LP, Haunted Mountain.

Joyful conversation echos throughout the club, and as stubby cans of beer and cupfuls of wine relieve the parched, the band abuptly enters. Eyes light up and smiles widen as Meek promptly quietens the crowd with the soft “Pareidolia”, a hit single from the Two Saviors LP. The band creates a fine platform for the delicate “Candle” next, and it’s noticeable that the poignant pedal steel from the records is amiss. Focus instead shifts to the ingenius, and first Haunted Mountain track of the setlist, “Where You’re Coming From”. This number starts with dainty finger-style parts and gradually builds toward an abundant sonic peak, showcasing the band’s versatility and dynamism within a mere four minutes. A rendition of the laid back “Halo Light” then perfectly leads into the sparkling love song “Didn’t Know You Then”. The innovative guitar work from Adam Brisbin is engrossing throughout. With an added sprinkle of gentle notes to violent guitar chord strums, complete with everything in between, Brisbin expertly guides the flow of sound as if it were a river down a valley.

As the enthralled crowd applaud the song as it concludes, texas-born Buck Meek begins to welcome his long-time hero, friend and collaborator Jolie Holland, to the stage. Holland wrote all but the final verse in Haunted Mountain and is co-credited for writing on a total of five of its tracks. Her introduction shakes up the performance as she vocally converses with Meek, and their playful harmonies lift the ensemble to new heights. With the completion of a few songs as a five-piece, the invigorated Meek adoringly thanks Holland for her appearance. The band proceed to wrap up their exciting set with a couple more numbers and the attendees show their admiration with an explosion of claps and cheers as Meek and co depart the stage.

Soon after though, the room is awash with claps and stamps, originating from the front of the crowd but spreading quickly like wildfire, the band are swiftly enticed out for an encore. The music resumes sharply with the infectious single “Stories”, and the crowd are willed to join in with its catchy chorus. As this undeniable fan favourite comes to a close, Meek settles the excitable crowd and takes a moment to explain that the band are going to play a new song that they’ve written while on tour. The unheard track is received well and as the encore ends, the passionate crowd erupts with grateful applause. The gesture is extended for a long time after the band’s withdrawal, highlighting that this special show will not easily be forgotten. 

Words Dean Frost

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