Richard Buckner | 03.02.07

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Buckner takes the stage, sitting very, very stage left. He reminds me of an old, wrinkly bunny rabbit, with his long, grey hair and beard and almost-always squinty eyes. But as soon as he opens his mouth to sing, I decide I have no more room to talk; this man is amazing.

 

w/Six Parts Seven
The Billiken Club, St. Louis

It's official. The Billiken Club is now a real St. Louis venue: Beatle Bob has arrived. And he picked a great night to show up.

The Six Parts Seven features multiple guitars, bass, lap steel, grand piano, drums, and other assorted instruments. Together, they form a super sextet, expanding people's minds with dreamy, ambient synth pop. The stage is set with about eight different guitars, various brass instruments, two keyboards, a steel pedal, banjo, and a drum set. None of the songs have words, which make it much more difficult to tell each apart, but they are all beautifully orchestrated. Of course, the band makes it look effortless, moving from song to song as graceful as a bird.

The three guitarists and the steel pedal player are foremost on the stage, making some extremely wistful music, allowing me to feel preoccupied without feeling guilty, until the drums kick in, making the beautiful piece of music sound like a trippy dream sequence. They play a short set, only a half-hour long. Their last song is really mellow and sleepy until the drums begin to pound, jazzing up the sound...but the song still ends as quietly as it began. One guy in the band had taken off his shoes; he promptly puts them back on after the set, ready to venture back out into the world to recruit new followers of the beauty brigade of music.

As the set changes quietly and quickly in front of me, I glance around the club. I've been to many a Billiken Club show, but this is by far the most crowded I have seen it. And that fact makes me ridiculously happy. There are a lot of older people here, people who are obviously not the typical SLU student.

Buckner takes the stage, sitting very, very stage left. He reminds me of an old, wrinkly bunny rabbit, with his long, grey hair and beard and almost-always squinty eyes. But as soon as he opens his mouth to sing, I decide I have no more room to talk; this man is amazing.

His lyrics ooze with literate songs about heartbreak, and his bleak demeanor really depresses me...but somehow, I'm transfixed. After a very short opening song on his acoustic guitar, the members of Six Parts Seven jump back onto the stage, and instantly form Buckner's backup band. Genius! The combinations of the dreamy pop and reflective lyrics made for a good evening of sweet music. As Bucker stays in the exact same position the whole time, the members of Six Parts Seven jump from position to position, instrument to instrument, facing different directions. One of them crouches on the ground for the entire duration of a song; another has his back turned to the audience.

The songs are wonderful, perfect for a rainy day with a broken heart. The songs are amazingly rich, full of complex melodies and fabulous orchestrations, which reduce down to a few simple notes on a keyboard before the song is over, blending into the loop of live feedback as all the guys on stage tune their instruments. At the end of Buckner's set, he plays the last song the same way that his set began: just him and his acoustic guitar. He has fabulous finger-picking skills, which he exhibits as each of the members of Six Parts Seven jumps off the stage and sits on the floor, watching their main man finish the show. The absolutely beautiful song ends with these heart-wrenching lyrics: "Oh the daylight is barely holding out/ what do you say we head on down the hill and let our eyes light up the sky." With a voice like that, anything. | Kaylen L. Hoffman

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