by Josh Gross
Joe Buck, ex-bass player for Hank Williams III, blew through Boise to play two sets at The Shredder Saturday night.
For the first, his solo project Joe Buck Yourself, he took a seat behind a well-stickered kick drum with a vintage Gibson and growled out a selection of sparse and grungy evil country songs that sounded like Scott H. Biram gone off the deep end. Buck made heavy use of dynamics to give the songs a drama beyond their worth. Loud, soft, loud, steady and then furious. The steady thud of his kick drum was trance-like.
Much of the effect had to do with Buck's facial expressions. In the light of day, he looks like a punk-rock Golem. But bathed in a red stage light, he looked positively terrifying, especially as his gaze scoured the audience like he was deciding which one to eat.
"I guess I ought to just keep playing songs about killing motherfuckers," Buck said after a brief lyrical foray into drinking songs.
Between the light and the steady thump of the drum echoing off the cinder block walls of The Shredder, the whole scene almost felt like a dream sequence filmed by David Lynch.
When his solo act concluded, Buck picked up his old standup bass and played a set with Florida band Viva la Vox.
Viva la Vox wasn't shy about complex swinging rhythms, twangy guitars or guttural howls like the kind you would expect from Tom Waits caught in a bear trap. They growled and snarled like Gogol Bordello run through a blender. Between the general carnival atmosphere and attire of the band—and the kazoo it had rigged into a trombone—it was not hard to imagine the band animated into a Tim Burton movie.
Most of the crowd had left by the time Viva la Vox hit the stage. But it played an encore for the dozen or so people who demanded one.
"Idaho is beautiful," the band said from the stage. "But don't worry, we won't tell anyone."
"Tell everyone," someone shouted back.