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Live Review: Buck Meek @ The Atlantis — 5/31/24

Buck Meek has a disarming quality to his music. The Texas native has released four solo full-length records in addition to his work with the band Big Thief. But the latest one, released on 4AD records, Big Thief’s label, may be Meek’s best yet. Several of the tracks on Haunted Mountain were co-written with Jolie Holland, who opened his recent sold-out set. 

In fact, both Meek and Holland named their most recent albums Haunted Mountain, sharing the title track with very different but equally moving results. According to interviews with Buck Meek, Holland had two verses and the chorus with the duo finishing the song along with a few other numbers. So it was no surprise to see Jolie Holland perform a version of “Haunted Mountain” in her set along with drummer Tim Carr and bassist Adam Brisbin (both of whom performed in Buck Meek’s band) at The Atlantis on May 31.

Jolie Holland performs at The Atlantis

Starting off his set, Buck Meek and his band — who in addition to Brisbin (on guitar) and Carr added Ken Woodward on bass — played “Pareidolia” with tinkling notes that remind me of wind chimes cascading all around Meek’s unassuming voice. The lilting quality of his lines demands attention. Although songs like “Secret Side” and “Paradise” were quiet to the point where you feel you’d miss something if you made the slightest noise, the crowd listening along were just as still and quiet — quite a feat considering the sheer number of people in the club. 

But it’s not all quiet and stillness. There’s a quiet dichotomy with Buck Meek’s music. A rustic poetry that sometimes wants to shake up the still waters and make sonic waves. “Where You’re Coming From,” “Undae Dunes,” and the aforementioned “Haunted Mountain” had a bop to them. Even during his performances with Big Thief there is a guitar strut that Meek has that bobs and sways along with the groove. 

Jolie Holland returned to the stage for several songs with Buck Meek and his band, including “Second Sight,” “Paradise,” and “Where You’re Coming From.” Holland, Meek told the crowd, “got me learnin’ how to sing.” 

“I’m gonna play a song I wrote with my friend Adrienne Lenker,” Meek told the crowd before playing “Certainty,” referencing his working with Big Thief. “Big Thief took a year off the road and I’ve been really missing them.” 

Buck Meek can spin a yarn as well as anyone, and that’s no more evident than in “Joe by the Book.” The song, performed by just Meek with his guitar, was a short piece that told a whole story in just a couple of minutes.

Watch the official music video for “Haunted Mountain” by Buck Meek on YouTube:

Buck Meek and his band wrapped up the regular set with “Cuero Dudes,” a single that was not included in the Haunted Mountain but came out in the new year. But it was the encore that held surprises as all three songs were new tunes that haven’t been set to wax yet. Tentative titles included “‘Déjà vu” and “Outta Body” along with a song that could have been something like “My Demon,” but was still baking, so to speak.

Buck Meek and his band have wrapped their tour, but they return to the Newport Folk Festival in July.

The setlist included:

Secret Side
Cannonball! Pt. 2
Second Sight
Haunted Mountain
Where You’re Coming From
Certainty (Big Thief)
Undae Dunes
Joe by the Book
Dream Daughter
Didn’t Known You Then
Fool Me
Sam Bridges
Cuero Dudes

Deja Vu (new song)
My Demon (new song)
Outta Body (new song)

Here are more photos of Buck Meek performing at The Atlantis on May 31, 2024. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.

And here are more photos of Jolie Holland opening the evening at The Atlantis on May 31, 2024.