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Concert Reviews

Concert Review: Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats and King Buffalo at The Roxian Theatre in Pittsburgh

Over the last year, I’ve been trying to get my father into the more psychedelic end of the Stoner Rock spectrum. Since he’s a huge Pink Floyd fan, I often thought bands like Colour Haze and All Them Witches would scratch his psychedelic itch—but everything I threw at him met an unenthusiastic response.

Until I showed him King Buffalo. What started off as a cautious listen turned into a deep appreciation and respect for the trio out of Rochester, NY. Eventually, he and my mom trekked out to Pittsburgh to catch King Buffalo play at Club Café in Pittsburgh’s South Side a few months ago.

It was an incredible show, and they were eager to catch King Buffalo the next time they rolled through Pittsburgh.

That next time was last Friday, March 4, when King Buffalo followed Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats to the Roxian Theatre in McKees Rocks, a tiny borough so close to the Pittsburgh border, it may as well count as Pittsburgh proper.

The show was great overall, but there were a few snags (as I’ll explain below).

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats and King Buffalo – North American Tour Review

The Venue

The Roxian Theatre is a beautiful venue on the east edge of town, ready to greet anyone entering McKees Rocks via Route 51 with its beautiful blue neon and yellow lettering.

Although the Roxian was originally built in 1929 as a Vaudeville playhouse, it’s been recently updated and meticulously cleaned, making it feel like a new establishment on the inside. Still, ownership has retained much of its original charm, so it flawlessly blends the old and the new.

Security was tight but kind, and they were chill enough to allow my wife to dash back to the car to grab her vaccination card after showing her ticket at the door. The venue insisted on proof of vaccination—a fact that I’m sure made people in the pit feel a little more at ease.

King Buffalo Playing at the Roxian Theatre in McKees Rocks

King Buffalo At The Roxian Theatre

I can’t write enough good things about King Buffalo, and that’s not just because singer Sean McVay has called in for an interview or because I loved Dead Star and The Burden of Restlessness.

King Buffalo is a well-oiled live act, and the band perfectly replicates their studio sound for the stage—something that’s not easy to do with such a complex, layered sound.

Drummer Scott Donaldson is a joy to watch on the sticks, as he pummels the drums with fury and still manages to look like he’s enjoying himself. Bassist Dan Reynolds is a fantastic compliment to Donaldson, and he frequently stepped around the stage—something guitarist and singer Sean McVay isn’t quite able to do. With his huge pedal board, keyboard responsibilities, and microphone, Sean couldn’t stray very far from his post, though he occasionally stepped back to hammer a few riffs with classic rock star posturing.

King Buffalo did have a solid light show this time around, and that was good because Sean and Scott don’t exactly have an electrifying stage presence (though their captivating musicianship more than makes up for it). Overall, King Buffalo’s live performance was a solid 10/10.

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats At the Roxian Theatre in McKees Rocks

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats At The Roxian Theatre

Let’s start with an important fact: I am a fan of Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats. They’re often an excellent gateway for introducing people to the Stoner Rock world, and that signature blend of fuzz is delectable. Put simply, Uncle Acid is an important act with an important body of work.

I say all of this to hedge the following: Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats isn’t the world’s greatest live band. For one, the sound was cranked up two notches too high (even for a Metal show), and I stupidly forgot my earplugs at home. Even up in the balcony, the sound was literally painful.

Worse, the band’s signature tone was simply missing. That thick fuzz was surprisingly lacking, and the dual vocal attack they attempted on stage came through flat and garbled. I went into this show with high expectations for Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, but they occasionally struggled to follow up the polished performance of King Buffalo.

Visually, however, Uncle Acid is stunning. The entire band squeezed into their tight jeans and black Gogo boots, giving them that retro look. They also streamed an endless barrage of psychedelic imagery cut together with shocking scenes from old B-movies, including shots of nuns pulling up their frocks to expose themselves. And as a band of musicians, Uncle Acid is simply fun to watch—especially after just seeing King Buffalo on stage.

I’ll admit that I didn’t get to see their entire set. Although I was ready and willing to let Uncle Acid take a few songs to lock in (and they truly did sound tighter by their fourth song), my wife, mom, and dad were miserable and reluctant to sit through the rest of it (they had also neglected to bring ear protection). We left after the fifth song.

Final Thoughts on the Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats and King Buffalo North American Tour

If you have a chance to see this show, go. King Buffalo may be some of the best live music you hear this year. As for Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, especially with their resume. They may have simply had an off night. Just be sure to take your ear plugs.

Upcoming dates:

March 8 – Atlanta, GA — The Masquerade
March 9 – Tampa, FL — The Ritz
March 11 – New Orleans, LA — House Of Blues
March 12 – Houston, TX — Warehouse Live
March 13 – Dallas, TX — House Of Blues
March 15 – Phoenix, AZ — Crescent Ballroom
March 16 – San Diego, CA — The Observatory
March 17 – Los Angeles, CA — The Belasco
March 18 – Berkeley, CA — The UC Theater
March 21 – Portland, OR — Roseland Theater
March 22 – Vancouver, BC — The Commodore
March 23 – Seattle, WA — Showbox Market
March 25 – Salt Lake City, UT — The Depot
March 26 – Denver, CO — The Ogden Theatre
March 27 – Kansas City, MO — The Truman
March 29 – Minneapolis, MN — First Avenue
March 30 – Chicago, IL — Thalia Hall
April 1 – Toronto, ON — The Danforth
April 2 – Montreal, QC — Club Soda
April 3 – Boston, MA — Big Nite Live

2 comments

  1. Hmmmm.Interesting.I saw Uncle Acid with Graveyard a couple years back They had great sound and were one of the best bands I had seen LIVE in ages.They were fairly loud I guess.Nothing out of the ordinary.

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