I witnessed a lot of great live shows this year by local entertainment concepts such as Swiftumz, Carlton Melton, Tortured Genies, Hot Lunch, T.I.T.S., Bill Orcutt, Caitlin Gill, Chris Thayer, and Wet Illustrated. But I’m here to talk about Buttons. I’m pretty sure they’re from Oakland. Parker Gibbs told me about them and sent me a link to the video for their song, “Sidewalk Ends”. If it can be said that Buttons have a hit, then this is it. The song’s got sort of a Swell Maps vibe (except way more shambolic) and features an array of colliding, overlapping vocals, burrowing earworm riffs and not-quite-on-the-beat handclaps. I’m going listen to it again right now.

The first show of theirs I saw was at Hemlock opening for Gap Dream and Cosmonauts. To see them standing onstage you’d never guess that they actually knew each other let alone play in a band together. The guitarist/singer wore a V-neck sweater and sported a B.C. Rich Warlock guitar covered in rainbow stickers. (I know, right?) The other guitarist looked way more “street” in a pork pie hat and holding a flying V. The drummer had an inexplicable amount of hair product. If anything, they looked like members of rival scenes. But once they started playing, everything fell into place as they unleashed a jaw-droppingly, face-meltingly, perfectly imperfect, mid-tempo panic pop on the constant verge of implosion with downtuned guitars, saturated riff-licks, and outright drum heroics holding the whole thing together. They even saved “Sidewalk Ends” for last and it was mid-way through the song that Buttons finally crash-landed in an almost desultory way. It only made me want to see them again.

Tony Bedard books the Hemlock Tavern, plays in Icky Boyfriends, Hank IV, and Little Queenie, and sleeps days in one of his 36 hyperbolic chambers.