From the shadows of black curtains draped down the right side of the Grand Theatre’s large stage, Bluff Caller – Dominic Kelly on drums, Greg Rea at bass, Spencer Mead on keyboard, guitar and vocals and Cody Rea on vocals and guitar – left their spot and emerged, walking over to their instruments and hitting the opening notes to “Wile E.” from the band’s “The Desert Party” album.
As the sole opener for Weezer’s sold-out show, Bluff Caller had the huge room watching, the crowd largely unfamiliar with the Reno band’s music considering its recent hiatus LINK that would justifiably lead to some serious nerves for most performers.
The concert was a homecoming of sorts. Following a roller coaster move as a band to, and ultimately back from, Los Angeles, and bassist Greg Rea’s enlistment in the Army before aggravating a previous shoulder injury, Bluff Caller was all but busted. Then the pieces fell into place and the band regrouped and soon after was invited to open for Weezer. And to take one of Reno’s larger stages – with a capacity three-times as large as the band’s previous biggest venue played — it would be absolutely forgivable for nerves to affect the performance.
To a polite welcoming of scattered applause, Bluff Caller’s jangly guitars and vocal delivery — at times tortured-melodic and at times audibly poetic in expression — rang out in the showroom. The slow burn stage lights gradually warmed up, then erupted into colors and waves, as Greg Rea began circling the front of the stage, hoisting his bass into the air while playing.
A cover of Tame Impala’s “Lucidity” followed, and a younger contingent of the pit’s standing room area began to push toward the barrier at stage front. Over the course of ensuing songs, it became clear that the band opted against performing some of their slower material and instead went with a set that allowed them to meet and raise the room’s energy.
About halfway in, lead vocalist Cody Rea set down his guitar and began sauntering across the front of the stage while singing. Bluff Caller’s mix of electronic drum pad in addition to the traditional set gives their songs a tone that comes off almost as experimental dance in a live setting.
Addressing the crowd only a couple times to acknowledge their love for and appreciation of Nevada’s music scene, particularly following the Route 91 Festival shooting less than a week earlier in Las Vegas, the band chose to stretch its output within the allotted performance time.
By the set’s end, the crowd had warmed significantly, as Bluff Caller had taken the opportunity and hit its stride, closing with “Baby Daddy,” a rolling beat layered over ambient keyboards with an echoing groove ending in a flurry of lights and drums before the stage lights dimmed and the auditorium burst with applause. The Reno locals had risen to the challenge, with concertgoers in the large room showing their approval as musicians disappeared back into the dark curtains, somewhere a cathartic leap from where they had been standing just 45 minutes prior.
Bluff Caller has said they may take the fortuitous circumstances and run with it, promising more shows in the future.