WASHINGTON, DC: Buke and Gase perform at DC9. Saturday, February 2, 2013. ? Brandon Wu / for the Washington City Paper.

It might not be obvious, but New York duo Buke and Gase take their name from their handmade instruments: “buke” refers to its baritone ukelele and “gase” describes its guitar/bass hybrid. But while these unusual tools generate some interesting timbres, Buke and Gase play them much like, well, guitar and bass. Their intricate compositions, full of off-kilter rhythms and charmingly awkward melodies, are the real point of interest—-and an impressively large crowd gathered at DC9 on Saturday night to hear a solid set of them.

Before Buke and Gase, North Carolina’s Ahleuchatistas, an avant-rock duo with releases on experimental labels Tzadik and Cuneiform, ably handled warm-up duties. Over the years, the band’s sound has evolved from aggressive math-rock into something more nuanced and carefully paced, yet still intense. Full of loops and layers and plenty of deceptively structured noise, the highlight was “Heads Full of Poison,” the lengthy title track from the band’s latest album on Cuneiform.

More photos of both bands in the full slideshow.

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