Joe Buck preaches to the choir at Lee's Liquor Lounge

Joe Buck preaches to the choir at Lee's Liquor Lounge

The crowd was small last night at Lee's, but their oddball intensity made up for it. Buck mingled with the mix of hipsters and hicks before his show, getting comfortable, and when he finally settled into his nest of monitors, amps, and instruments onstage, he spoke at some length on the connection he felt between Nashville and Minneapolis, noting several upcoming local shows by big-name alt country artists (Wayne Hancock, Hank III, Dale Watson).

Liberally sprinkling his songs and words with excessive "motherfuckers," (as in "Are you ready for this, motherfuckers?" and "But you already knew that, didn't ya, motherfuckers?") Buck played fast and furious. Accentuating the fact that he already looks a bit like a flesh-eating zombie, he leaned back between lyrics, snarling and grimacing. Emphasizing the quasi-religious content of his music (mostly having to do with demons, and how they want you dead) he broke into a spontaneous call and response. There's a certain amount of ironic humor involved in a group of drunk concertgoers yelling "Praise God!" and "Amen!" at the top of their lungs.

Later in the show, he broke into a song-story we hope is fiction, in which young Buck at age 13 was forced to defend his life with a knife, and later upped the ante and took revenge with a gun. Buck's Southern origins came out in a few other stories (less fictional, it seems). At one point he related a time when he was driving his 88-year-old mother's car and reached under the driver's seat to discover a .38 and two boxes of ammo. "She's a good shot, too," he said.

At the end, the audience shouted for Buck to play his "pussy song," his name for the only genuinely slow song he plays: "Bitter Is The Day." It's a beautiful tune, and he played the first half straight, then unexpectedly launched into a hard-stomping version. It was a good end to the evening, but Buck stood up, unslung his guitar, waited a beat onstage for the obligatory encore applause, and sat back down to play a couple more.

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