One of the more captivating times in Buffalo's event calendar is the period that precedes festival season. Instead of ____ summer festival or concert venue that you've been to dozens of times before (but still attend because it's fun), a sense of discovery remains, a chance to say, "Oh? I hadn't heard about that."
After drafting about 13 different weather-related ledes -- the creative juices are really flowing today -- I've figured it's smart to include both indoor and outdoor events -- hey, it's supposed to be in the 80s with some rain, so do with that what you will.
Here's The 10:
1) The Place says farewell to Buffalo, 3:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday at 229 Lexington Ave. There's no cover or cost of admission. (And frankly, I do not believe there ever was.)
Commentary: The Place epitomized the blue-collar side of the Elmwood Village -- its prices weren't excessive, you could buy PBR pounders and you wouldn't always get the exact macaroni and cheese you ordered. The Place excelled in a few areas where others fall short: a genuine, neighborhood feel; a holiday warmth (partially due to the brandy in Tom & Jerrys, of course); and an unusual come-as-you-are acceptance, one that's not easy to put into words. Take it away, Vitamin C.
Commentary: There's inherent irony in viewing the art of work on your day(s) off, but the subject matter in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's "Overtime: Art of Work" is so diverse and thoughtfully curated that you'll forget looking at a single exhibition. You can read Colin Dabkowski's review, and below is my favorite (mostly due to the colors and the hat).
3) Buffalo Porchfest, 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday in the Elmwood Village. Free to meander about, although I'm sure local musicians will accept tips.
Commentary: The concept is almost startlingly simple: local musicians of all genres, ages and abilities will perch on porches throughout the Elmwood Village, serenading curious (or intentional, I suppose) passersby. All the information you need is here, including the bands participating and a map of the performances. Whether you're pumped up for Lesionread on Richmond or Death Picnic on Elmwood, variety (and the outdoors!) is king at Porchfest.
4) University at Buffalo Oozefest, 9 a.m. Saturday in the Mud Pit at St. Rita's Lane and Frontier Road in University at Buffalo North Campus. It's free to attend as a spectator, but the registration deadline for entering a team has already passed.
Commentary: The concept of mud volleyball sells itself, and this UB Student Life annual tournament is wildly popular among students and alumni. The double-elimination format means teams can hang around a little longer, and friends and alumni are invited to come and watch (and probably stand a safe distance away from splashing mud.) Without fail, this event results in some epically dirty photos, so stop by Buffalo.com on Sunday to see them.
5) Soul Patch, 9 p.m. Friday in Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar (253 Allen St.). Tickets are $8 at the door, cash only.
Commentary: Judging from the 200 Facebook fans who clicked "going," Soul Patch's third show in Buffalo in six months will have another major draw. (Insert something cliche like "Death, Taxes and Soul Patch's crowd.") You'll probably recognize Keith Buckley from Every Time I Die; if not, you'll definitely reminisce about '90s alternative hits -- so here's LIT to get stuck in your head. Read Mac McGuire's preview for more.
Commentary: The Ragbirds, who played last July in the Live at Larkin concert series, soar over to Buffalo again for a more intimate, indoor show. A catchy brand of folk-rock, this five-piece is upbeat and energetic -- two qualities we like in our Friday night. Plus, it was good enough to make the cut of Michael Farrell's must-see shows, so don't take The Ragbirds lightly.
Commentary: Even if you're one of those crazy Millennials, it's probable that you sing along to "Jack and Diane" and "Small Town," two of John Mellencamp's early to mid-'80s hits. Is "Cougar" not one of the best nicknames in the music industry? Read more from Michael Farrell in his weekend concert preview.
8) Queen City Roller Girls: Devil Dollies vs. Suicidal Saucies, Hell on Wheels IX, at 7 p.m. Friday at Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.) General admission tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door, while front-row seats run for $20.
Commentary: The "Hell on Wheels" title is apt, as you can't discuss this match-up without using words like "devil" and "suicidal." The moniker also relates to the historically similar talent levels of both teams, although the Suicidal Saucies beat down the Dollies, 202-116, in Hell on Wheel VIII.
Commentary: Filling the void of Indian food in downtown Buffalo, Chennai Express earned a respectable seven plates from News food editor Andrew Galarneau. I was fortunate to join him for the review dinner, and the dosa sampling was enjoyable for two reasons: 1) it's pretty easy to pinpoint one you'll probably like (30 varieties grace the menu) and 2) Each dosa is served with a variety of dips -- some sweet, some hot, but most pleasing to the taste buds. And yes, the paper masala dosa is really, really long.
Commentary: This should surprise no one, but putting on a Shakespeare play simultaneously draws more interest and raises expectations. Because the viewer is likely more knowledgeable about the story line and has formed a preexisting opinion on a few characters, audiences will be more critical of twists and tweaks -- some appreciated and others frowned upon, much like the book-becomes-movie transition. In its rendition of a Shakespearean classic, New Phoenix thrives, as Ted Hadley elaborates here.