A Review: Jeff Bujak (Syracuse)
As I drove down the road shooting stars fell over the Syracuse skyline, hopefully indicating what would be a magical evening. I arrived in Syracuse to see students everywhere as I was just a block or so from the Syracuse University Campus. At first pass, I was unable to locate the venue. So after parking my vehicle and asking a few folks for directions; I found myself wandering down a small, almost alley-like street. Just past a few bars and a couple of street peddlers, I saw a colorful staircase and a sign that read "Funk N' Waffles".
As I walked down the freshly painted staircase, beautiful spraypainted art began to appear. As I entered the establishment it became clear that it was a coffee house, and I immediately felt welcome. The colors were so bright that I couldn't help but smile. As I headed through the doors I saw Jeff setting up his gear on a one-step stage. I approached him and introduced myself so as he could put a face with the name. Right away we went into an indepth convorsation about musc, the scene, and bands that we were digging. We then exited through the back hall of the venue and stepped out to his van to continue the discussion in the beautiful Syracuse night.
I informed him that I would be leaving his show after the first set, to head over to the Westcott Theatre to check out The Heavy Pets, at which point you could see his desire to join.
*Jeff Bujak @ Funk N Waffles*
We headed back inside and Jeff took the stage. His set-up was impressive; two decks of keys, a light rig, a laptop, sound control devices and a plethora of effects pedals and cables. Jeff began with a three song combo "Hepsiera>Vadin>Duodenary". He used the stopping point to spell the song names for me and explain that "Duodenary" referred to progressions in twelves, citing "half days" as his example. Also using this oppurtunity to ask about how his levels sounded, then making adjustments. He mentioned that this show was going to be "Storyteller" style.
As his set progress I observed a tasteful amount of "womps" with heavy melodic piano. His movement across the keys was stellar, and his samples were well placed and explorative; including Rage Against the Machine and Fear and Loathing. Additionally his transitions were seamless, and provided well timed, and well played peaks. You could tell he had been doing this for a while. At one point in the first set Jeff exclaims "Hey, this isn't waffle music..."
*The Heavy Pets @ The Westcott*
At the close of the set, I let Jeff know that I was talking off and that I was heavly impressed. He then told me he would text me when his show concluded and that he would try to make it over to The Westcott for the end of The Heavy Pets set. I then made my way over to The Westcott to be welcomed at the door by Dan, the gentleman in charge of booking and Courtney, the young lady taking tickets.
As I walked into the venue it was clear to me that it was an all ages show. As I focused my attention to the Pets, who were on stage; I was thrown off by the music in which they were playing. It was very poppy with a hint of reggae, reminiscent of Tea Leaf Green or OAR. After two songs and a request for "Beyonce, All The Single Ladies" I realized that I was in the wrong place. With that I headed back out to the street and back to Funk N' Waffles for the remainder of Jeff's set.
*Back to Jeff Bujak @ Funk N' Waffles*
Upon entering yet again I order a pumpkin spiced chai (that was out of this world) and had a seat in a booth near to the stage. As I sat down I got a confused look from Mike, who was running merch and assisting Jeff. I informed him of my thoughts on what I heard from the Pets, and went back to watching Jeff perform.
Jeff played the show in his socks, with his shoes set off to the side. His eyes were closed for the majority of his playing and you could tell he was putting everything he had into entertaining the small crowd. I further observed his playing style which came acrossed as spacey and heavy, at times even idiosyncratic. As Jeff's song concluded I got a suprised look from him and "Oh, hey...". Jeff then stated that the next song was new and called "Knight". "K-n-i-g-h-t (spelling it out) underscore... No underscore..." It was very spacey and ambient with heavy synth.
As the show concluded, Jeff said his goodbyes to some friends and I assisted in the load-out process. After the van was loaded Jeff obliged with an interview (which will be posted soon). Overall I was really impressed with Jeff's playing and ability to create an experience.
"Jeff Bujak is one of the most consistant one-man shows I have ever seen. I have a feeling he'll be pleasing a lot of late-night festival crowds this year."
Recent Jeff Bujak Set:
Jeff Bujak Live at Northern Lights on April 3, 2010.
(The set from Funk N' Waffles will be posted as soon as it's made available.)