Monday's Pick: Efterklang, Buke & Gass, and Silian Rail

Categories: What to Do
Grant Cornett
Buke & Gass
9 p.m., $12

Buke & Gass aren't kids' puppets, a slapstick comedy duo, or alternate slang terms for bodily functions. The words "buke" and "gass" refer to instruments -- a baritone ukulele and a guitar-bass hybrid, respectively -- as performed by New York twosome Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez. But ignore your preconceptions about ukuleles. This isn't Tiny Tim tiptoeing thru tulips, Amanda Palmer playing Radiohead, or random Internet chicks covering classic rock on a touristy Hawaiian toy. Dyer and Sanchez tweak their strings with electronic effects, which turns their pointillist pluckings, herky-jerk songwriting, and asymmetrical arrangements into something altogether stranger than the twee tunes you might equate with ukuleles. Sanchez, for example, has custom-built unconventional noisemakers for the Blue Man Group, while Dyer's singing can be both a gentle purr or a wild wail, perhaps a bit like a less-anguished Shannon Wright. She's also been compared to both the Gossip's Beth Ditto and the Throwing Muses' Kristin Hersh -- all of which may seem like an odd combination, but then Buke & Gass are a fairly odd band. At times their music sounds like the soundtrack to a very strange nursery rhyme, a sort of sing-songy weirdo prog-pop that could probably share a stage with East Bay freakniks Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. They also augment the buke and gass with percussion (e.g., stomping kick drum, clanking ankle bells, and a "toe-bourine") played by their feet while they simultaneously pick at their instruments. It's a showcase of both deft multi-tasking and distinctive songwriting that's just bizarre enough to crack the shell of your calcified mind.

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