Buffalo Rodeo dreams of making it big while young

Chris Rutledge

The members of Buffalo Rodeo are all in their first year at WKU, and if it were up to them, it would be their last.

The band of Bowling Green natives formed when the members were in high school, and guitarist Nathaniel Davis said they hope to play music professionally so they don’t have to finish college.

“We don’t even want to play music — we just want to not go to school,” Davis said with a smile. “If I could have a place to play music all of the time and have food and be able to play shows, then I’d be happy.”

The band started with Davis, drummer Ryan Gilbert and singer Zach Preston, who Davis said would meet at his house to play Black Keys cover songs. Bassist David Hall and keyboardist Austin Dubree joined the band in 2011.

Hall was primarily a guitar player before joining the band, but the other members persuaded him to pick up the bass when their original bassist quit.

“We were just like, ‘Wait a minute; you play guitar really well — if you cut two of those strings off, you’ve got a bass,’” Davis said.

As a result of this, Hall’s driving bass is at the forefront of the music, creating the unique sound the band achieves.

Another essential element of their sound is Preston’s powerful vocals, which Davis said are very different from his musical influences.

“We all kind of listen to the same music, but he’s more into the folk side of indie rock,” Davis said.

These qualities brought the band close to winning Revolution 91.7’s Revfest: Battle of the Bands. So close, in fact, that the judges created a second place on the spot to award the band.

They are currently working on an album at Greyskull Recordings that they hope to release sometime in February.

“It’s sounding good,” Hall said.

Hall and Davis admit that even though their album is coming together well, their live show is where fans can get the full experience.

One of the biggest struggles for the band is their young age. At 19, Hall is the oldest member, which keeps them out of the club scene, including Tidball’s.

“I feel like the amount of places to play here versus talent is like nothing,” Davis said. “With Sleeper Agent and Morning Teleportation and Schools and Cage the Elephant — I mean, that’s four really big bands right there, and Bowling Green is a pretty big town. And there’s just nothing offered. There’s not even any regular venues — it’s more like, ‘Oh, this restaurant’s going to let us play here.’”

As a result, Buffalo Rodeo is happy to play wherever they can.

One night when the band was playing a house party, things got out of hand near the beginning of their set.

“Ten seconds into the first song, some girl just gets bashed over the head with a beer bottle,” Davis said. “There was blood everywhere and a fight broke out.”

Davis said half of the crowd suddenly went outside to watch the crowd, prompting the band to take a short break.

Recently, the band played an event at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville. The event was dubbed the “Bowling Green Invasion” and was sponsored by the Starry Nights Music Festival. Davis said the show was one of his favorites, and the band hopes the exposure helps get them into the Nashville club scene.

Another local band, Canago, hopes to convince Tidball’s to let Buffalo Rodeo open for them at one of their upcoming shows.

Canago guitarist Robbie Neighbors describes himself as a pretty big fan of the band.

“They have an amazing sounding, self-produced demo that harkens to the Arcade Fire sound,” he said. Their single has hooks that I’m surprised aren’t already in car commercials. They have a sound that is suited for arenas.”

Davis agrees that the band’s sound is fit for bigger stages.

“If we could have a room that was a huge auditorium to write in, it would be awesome,” he said. “I feel like that adds to our sound.”

In the meantime, the band is focusing on reaching 1,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook and getting their education just in case.