Scientists have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that My So-Called Life is the most important cultural landmark in history (narrowly beating out the Beatles and those little plastic things that keep the top of the pizza box from crushing your pie). Since episode 12 (titled “Self-Esteem,” the one where Jordan Catalano finally holds Angela’s hand in public) is largely considered to be the definitive entry in the My So-Called Life canon, the properties of transitivity would suggest that Buffalo Tom, the band who appears in said episode and whose song “Late at Night” underscores its key moments, should be declared the greatest band of all time. Science is never wrong.
Of course, sometimes science says the sun revolves around the Earth. Buffalo Tom never became a massive phenomenon, though did cull together a devoted following of overthinking sad-sack college dudes (and the women who love them). After a brief hiatus (during which frontman Bill Janovitz released the largely excellent solo album Fireworks on TV!), the band has just finished recording a new album (set to hit early next year) and took a few days to get their summer sea legs on a brief tour, which brought them to New York’s intimate Mercury Lounge, and naturally, A-D was there.
Circa 2006, Buffalo Tom are committed to two things. The first is sweating: On a steamy New York night in a poorly-ventilated club, Janovitz and company soaked themselves to the bone, no doubt ruining their shirts in the process. In the process, Janovitz became perhaps the first non-athlete in history to use his sweatbands to actually wipe away sweat.
The reason why they were sweating so much, however, is because of their second focus: Raggedness. Despite the more complicated arrangements of later albums, Buffalo Tom are a punk trio at heart, churning out their anthems at a loose, blistering pace. I have to imagine it’s what the Replacements looked like towards the end of their career: A little weathered, a little angry, a little drunk, and wholly committed.
The whole show got me thinking a lot about Jared Leto’s music career. He played Jordan Catalano on My So-Called Life, and is now in a band called 30 Seconds to Mars that isn’t very good. His greatest musical achievement is playing “Red” on an episode of the show (watch below). Angela thought it was about her, but it’s actually about a car — Buffalo Tom would never break her heart like that. KYLE ANDERSON
On the Web:
Jordan Catalano performs “Red”: