Flying Buffaloes’ Chicago Homecoming Rocks Beat Kitchen and Feeds the Audience’s Soul

Lonesome cowboy Tommy LeLand returned home to Chicago with his bandmates in country outlaw band Flying Buffaloes as it lit up the Beat Kitchen stage.

Flying Buffaloes was joined by former punk rock, revitalized country singer Kevin Presbrey and alternative indie band Fargo March 13. Presby, an Aurora native, enchanted the audience with sweet, country melodies. His original song “Sunrise” had an upbeat rhythm juxtaposed with sad, nostalgic lyrics.

“It’s been so long since I’ve seen your face, another lover’s tragedy,” Presby longingly sang out while strumming the higher chords on the guitar.

The highlight of his set was titled “Afterglow,” a song which touched on loss in love, time and, eventually, life. The song was written for a friend of his and is scheduled to be released in the spring, according to Presbrey. With a lovely melody, Presbrey sang, “Why am I so afraid to die? Everybody goes in time. … You were like the sunset and I’m the afterglow.”

Fargo — comprised of vocalist and guitarist Ryan Thomas, bassist and vocalist Brandon Cantwell, drummer David DelGuidice and guitarist Robert Donile — were up next on the queue. Cantwell and LeLand are brothers, and seeing Cantwell open for his LeLand was a special experience for all in attendance.

Fargo echoes bands such as The Kooks and The Black Keys with an extremely engaging stage presence. The band’s energy was electric, drawing a younger crowd of mid-20s and early-30s. Thomas was a standout with eccentric facial expressions and quirky hand movements, one audience member yelled out, “he’s going to break his wrist off!” His vocals were unique with shrills and hollars adding to the band’s indie sound.

Cantwell welcomed his brother LeLand and the Flying Buffaloes to take the stage with one herd member missing. The now four-member band of vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Johan Stone, lead guitarist LeLand, drummer Danny Pratt and vocalist and bassist Barry Stone climbed up the stairs ready to perform; however, Flying Buffaloes said goodbye to the fifth band member, Jordan Harazin, for a new musical path, according to Pratt.  

The band of brothers, even with one less member, created a backyard jam experience with contrasting tones of a rock concert. Barry opened the set with electric vocals, igniting the energy across the stage. “Taking it home, don’t you worry about the shifting tides,” rang clear as Barry rocked alongside Leland. Their energy was contagious as audience members raised their beers high, bouncing along to the sync beats of Pratt on the drums.

The band kept the crowd moving with top hits including “Just a Little Weed,” from its first extended play (EP) “Taking Off,” and “Loaded & Rollin,” the title song from upcoming album “Loaded & Rollin.”

Barry’s leather jacket hit the stage as he exclaimed, “Three songs! That’s how this jacket lasted, and it’s not going any further.”

Flying Buffaloes slowed things down with soft vocals from “Up Here I’m Found,” as Johan sang “I close my eyes and the pavement feels so pretty … up here I’m found.” Phones out, the crowd swayed along as they moved swiftly with Johan’s warm vocals.

The intimacy of Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont Ave.) complimented the band’s playful and family-like nature as they teased the crowd with smart remarks. Johan shouted to an audience member, “You’re not allowed to smoke in here,” and LeLand fired back with a hit from his vape. Their lightheartedness was refreshing, and added to the band members’ humorous charm — it was a comfort similar to entering an Olive Garden, where patrons are always family.

Toward the end of the night, Barry added a sentimental tone with his song “Baby Love,” dedicated to his wife. Barry sang “Your love, your love is more than I deserve” so softly over the mic it sounded as though the entire audience was being whispered sweet nothings. Some crowd members took a moment to find their loved ones and two-step to the endearing lyrics.

The band ended the night with a guitar solo and song “Lonesome Cowboy” that LeLand wrote for the upcoming album. The audience hollered out for LeLand like a marching band bringing him home. The guitarist rocked about the stage with the energy of Pete Townshend of The Who. Finding his light at the edge of the stage, LeLand was so entranced by the music audiences couldn’t look away.

As the band transitioned to “Lonesome Cowboy,” lyrics “Today I am a lonesome cowboy doing things on my own. No one can tell me what I’m doing, the road is my home” echoed through the venue.

Presbrey will continue to record in April with a new EP to be featured in the spring. Flying Buffaloes’ first full-length album “Loaded & Rollin” will be released early this summer, and its music can be streamed on Spotify.

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