Although the rain was drizzling outside making it a peculiar Friday night, the start to a rainy weekend wasn’t affecting fans of Avi Buffalo as they packed themselves in to the Echoplex for the band’s last show of 2010. The last time we had seen the band they were just celebrating the release of their now highly-acclaimed debut album at The Troubadour. This time around there were a few major changes on stage – some which were very entertaining and some which were downright puzzling.

The night kicked off with opening acts and friends, The Wildbunch and local buzz band Lord Huron. However, Avi and his band were ready to hurl some new knowledge at us after a long, grueling but successful tour.

We’ve considered Avi Buffalo and company young prodigies long before they were signed to Sub Pop. Initially a Long Beach band, these kids now have a name that is just as big as the veteran artists on their label. Playing numerous festivals with big names such as Modest Mouse, My Morning Jacket and more, this group has slowly but surely matured in front of our eyes. It was obvious when Avi came out on stage with long, moppy hair (which we hear was accompanied by a very thick beard on tour); there was more confidence – something that is acquired through touring and aging. yet, their demeanor and looks were just the first of  slight changes we took in on Friday night.

It’s been made apparent that their keyboardist Rebecca will not returning to the group any time soon, but we did see a new replacement. We know when one door closes, another one opens but we were flabbergasted to see and hear that it opened with a saxophone. Yes, a saxophone is not quite the instrument we’d peg to replace lilting female vocals and keys but there it was. Avi Buffalo, a genius folk rock band was suddenly experimenting in ways we didn’t expect them to.

Now, even with the new instrument added on to their textures, their hit songs such as “Coaxed,” “Jessica” and “Where’s Your Dirty Mind?” still held the heart which cajoled us into loving them in the first place. Avi’s wailing will always be distinct and the softer side to the band will still hold up as gentle as we’d like it to. However, what broke our hearts a bit – well, actually more than just a bit – was the guitar solo at the end of “Remember Last Time.” Definitely one of the best songs on the album for the explosive musicianship that closes out the nearly seven and half minute song, the guitar sadly drowned underneath the saxophone’s blaring. Despite the fact that Avi still played with all his might as usual, the sounds did not match up and it became too much of a distraction.

But on a pleasant ending note, they did close their show out with their ever-popular “What’s In It For?” which they hardly do. Overall, it was nice to have one of LA’s finest bands back home with us and keep their songs with us until we see them again next year. Although we can’t say this without hoping any new changes to the lineup won’t be as shocking.

Check our photos out below!

Photography by Carl Pocket