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The city will get its first taste of a “post-cabaret" experience with a show by the French band Buffle! (which translates to Buffalo), hosted by Alliance Française. The band, which has invented its own brand of music, says this refers to the cabaret in Paris at the end of the 19th century: a form of entertainment featuring music, song, dance, recitation and drama.

“We speak about cabaret because we propose very different scenes in different atmospheres. It’s not only a concert. It’s like a string of circus sets...but it’s not a circus," says singer-songwriter Xavier Machault on email. He adds as an afterthought, as if with a bit of a frown and a smile, “Hmmm, is that clear?"

The band comes across as an easy-going bunch of people who love what they do and are open to doing new things. Machault met pianist/composer Roberto Negro in 2007 when the latter stepped in as a replacement pianist for a band that Machault had played with earlier. Pierre Dodet joined the band a few years later.

“We had known Pierre for a long time. We were together at the university and did a show together 10 years ago. (Now) Roberto composes all the music and plays the piano. Pierre is an actor, but also plays the keyboard and drums. He sings, and writes text. I sing and write songs. But we all like to do things we’re not supposed to. So...you have to see us!" Machault says.

They recorded their first studio album, Quand Hurlent Les Haut-Parleurs, in 2010 but then stopped making discs because they believe their music is “music that is made to be seen".

The band adopted the name “Buffle" last year. Machault says: “Actually, there’s no particular meaning except for the sound of this word. It took us time to find this name. We made lists and lists and lists again and one day, the three of us said, ‘Yes, Buffle. It’s cool’."

Pointing out that their act is seen as “curious and unconventional" even in France, Machault says an international audience may find it “surprising". In order to overcome the language barrier, all the songs will be over-titled (a set of lines displayed above a stage and manually synchronized with the speech of the actors) and the lines that are spoken will be in English, he says.

Buffle! will perform on 22 January, 7pm, at the Edouard Michelin Auditorium, Alliance Française, 24, College Road, Nungambakkam. The band will travel to Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Pune, Chandigarh and New Delhi. Passes, available at Alliance Française. For details, call 28279803 or email culture.madras@af-madras.org.

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