Buzz Zeemer makes a big return with Free At Noon - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
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Buzz Zeemer Free at Noon - 3.29.2024

“First show in 17 years and we’re live on the radio…there’s no pressure there,” Buzz Zeemer frontman Frank Brown joked to the crowd at Ardmore Music Hall. Indeed, this was a major moment: the unmissable reunion for one of Philly’s best power-pop groups. Yet that pressure was nowhere to be seen to feel for the crowd during the exhilarating half-hour show.

Brown formed the group in the 90’s, while deeply frustrated that his band Flight of Mavis couldn’t get a label deal. He wanted a fresh start but still loved his bandmates: guitarist Tommy Conwell, bassist Dave McElroy, and drummer Ken Buono. Together, they formed a new group: Buzz Zeemer, named for a chainsaw-wielding neighbor. Their two records – Play Things and Delusions of Grandeur – earned them a loyal fan base but the realities of life led to the group’s dissolution. In the years since, some of the members have started their own groups such as The Frank Brown Thing, while Conwell continues to play with his 80s band the Young Rumblers.

This Friday’s Free at Noon marked the first Buzz Zeemer show since their 2007 Grape Room performance and yes – a whole lot has changed in the years since then. Yet the group’s riveting, raucous, razor-sharp sound is still alive and well. In a 1996 interview, Brown spoke about his  love for “the three minute thirty second pop song.” You can hear that focus in all of their music, including many of the songs on Lost and Found, a collection of tracks recorded between 1993 and 1997 and finally released last year. On Friday, the band dropped a deluxe streaming edition with five more tracks.

At Ardmore, Buzz Zeemer powered through these songs with palpable excitement. It remains a thrill to watch the incredible tension between Brown’s infectious choruses, reminiscent of Elvis Costello, and Conwell’s explosive guitar solos. His distorted shredding lights a fire under the band’s breezy tone, always anchored by Brown’s well-crafted and catchy songs. At one point during the show, Brown paused to reminisce about hearing WXPN play Buzz Zeemer while working at Old City Coffee. The midday concert’s vibe was wistfully nostalgic yet the band sounded rooted in the moment, ripping through their songs with palpable passion. Fans rejoice: Buzz Zeemer is back.

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