Gig Review: AVI BUFFALO + JORDAN ROOKER & LOWPINES @ Oslo Hackney 14/02/2019


Mark K just couldn’t resist the line-up at Hackney Oslo on February 14th, and indeed found no little amount to love in the line-up…

Whether or not they’re otherwise attached, tonight’s show consists of three artists who usually play with bands playing solo. First up is Jordan Rooker, a singer/songwriter from Sheffield. He does admit that he usually plays with a band; luckily he’s sufficiently accomplished that they’re not missed. His melodic, lyrical songs make for an enjoyable start to the evening.

By his own admission, Lowpines (aka Oli Deakin) plays sad songs, so they’re well suited to playing solo on Valentines night. Oli plays an electric guitar, and provides us with a masterclass in how to play the instrument without distortion. He uses guitar loops that only add to the ethereal atmosphere of the songs. Lowpines’ material is utterly sublime and is music you can get lost in. The album In Silver Halides is a very fine thing indeed.


I was unaware that Avi Zahner-Isenberg (who effectively is Avi Buffalo) played solo gigs, yet here he is. His most recent album was At Best Cuckold which came out in 2014 (although he did release an EP, Panegyric, last year) so perhaps that’s the reason for this relatively low-key tour. When Avi Buffalo were promoting At Best Cuckold they played at the considerably bigger Islington Assembly Hall.

Tonight Avi, on his tod, is playing electric guitars (mostly a Tele and a Strat) and hot damn – band or no band he’s going to let rip! Fuzz pedals are duly stamped on and there is some jaw-dropping soloing without the slightest hint of histrionics. That isn’t to say that it’s all on one level. He frequently throttles back too. It took me a little time to get used to Avi’s falsetto but in this solo setting it sounds wonderfully plaintive. 

Avi’s set includes one new song. Otherwise there’s a mix of material from Avi Buffalo and At Best Cuckold, together with a Karen Dalton cover (Something On Your Mind). I got the impression that this was Avi dipping his toe back into the touring water. I think he enjoyed it. We certainly did.


Mark Kelly