Buke & Gase is a DIY duo that does it big at the Casbah

By Margaret Hartley

A little bit kooky, a lot creative, Buke & Gase have handcrafted a sound all its own. The members have literally handcrafted their own instruments. The band’s name was also based on its unique instruments. The modified baritone ukulele is nicknamed “the Buke” and the guitar-bass hybrid is called “the Gass,” hence Buke & Gase. They also play another instrument they call the “toe-bourine,” a kick-drum with noisemakers.

Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez are the Brooklyn-based musicians that make up Buke & Gase. The duo is currently on tour for its second full-length album “General Dome” and made a stop at the Casbah in San Diego.

Buke & Gase was the featured band, following two openers and not reaching the stage themselves until midnight. No introduction of the band was made, and the two immediately jumped into performing. The songs sounded the same live as they did on the album. Dyer had the same high pitch squeaking yet pleasing vocals as hopefully expected. The lyrics were still hardly recognizable behind the big noise that the band was attempting to produce. Between every song there was little interaction between the band and the audience. At one point Dyer said, “I can’t believe we’re in San Diego…f***king San Diego,” which was the most engaging interaction.

At the Casbah there is a certain element of intimacy that is created by the lack of a backstage for the artist. In order to get on stage the artist has to walk through the audience and set up as the audience watches. The stage is also low-level which adds to the intimacy.

Buke & Gase received a lot of its early praise and exposure from National Public Radio. The band’s first album “Riposte” was picked as one of NPR’s 50 favorite albums of 2010. They also have been featured on the radio’s “All Things Considered” program. Sanchez told the host of the popular radio segment, “We’re trying to solve a problem.”

The problem that they were trying to solve is to make a big sound from two people. Hence the assortment of instruments. They utilize their bodies to the maximum, with most of their percussion coming from the “toe-bourine” that Dyer crafted. Crafting and mechanics is something she is familiar with. Besides making instruments and music, she repairs bikes. Both creating and learning how to play a new instrument is the challenge and the fun for these artists. Their instruments create fresh noises that border between pleasant and painful.

“Houdini Crush,” the lead song off the album has a 45-second build-up, which pumps up the listener waiting for the vocals. The song is a pop-punk combination, with repetitive lyrics and a thrusting base line. The fade out is delicate, and all in all is a good song for an opener. The takeaway single from the album is “Hiccup.” Despite the lyrics being difficult to detect, the sounds created by Dyer’s vocals are what makes the song. Throughout the song she has moments of hiccups where she makes a little laugh. This feature ties the theme of the song together. The way she sings is also in a very teasing manner adding to the idea that she is essentially laughing throughout the song.

Buke & Gase has proven with “General Dome” that they are more than crafty punk indie musicians with an interesting backstory. They plan to stick around and make themselves heard in every way conceivable. The band will be continuing their album tour abroad until the month of August.