Despite its ongoing resurgence, Buffalo is still a city where residents and visitors alike can stumble into an amazing live show with little to no resistance. No lines; no “sorry, sold out” from ticket offices or entry cashiers. Just barroom and club talent booked for those interested enough to walk in, occupy some open space and sway to the sounds.
The Sadies show Friday night at Buffalo Iron Works was just one example of this type of opportunity. Over two hours of guitar duels, surf-flavored instrumentals and general full-band mastery, the Toronto quartet gave both longtime fans and lucky attendees full flavor of its 20-year catalog, as well as proof of why its live prowess has earned the interest of Canada’s music elite.
For those familiar with the band, its resume is well known. Multifaceted sound made for roadhouses, rock clubs and rowdy festivals. Juno- and Polaris Prize-nominated albums. High-profile collaborations with such artists as Neko Case (“Fox Confessor Brings the Flood” and “The Tigers Have Spoken”) and Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie (“And the Conquering Sun”).
But it’s the band’s live show that can floor both the initiated and unfamiliar alike. Mike Belitsky keeps a breakneck pace on percussion. Sean Dean steadies the ship on bass, and lanky, guitar-wielding brothers Dallas and Travis Good simply hypnotize as their fingers dance across their respective frets. As has been the case throughout its entire careers, the two hit chords the way painters splash colors on a canvas. It’s frenetic, yet methodical in its efficiency and effect.
And solid news for the sparse crowd who attended the show in the city’s Cobblestone District: the Good Brothers and Co. were their usual freewheeling selves.
Dressed in suits appropriate for hangers in Hank Williams’s closet, Dallas and Travis Good stormed out the gates via their Gretsch and Fender guitars on “The First Five Minutes,” an appropriate opener for both 2013’s “Internal Sounds” and the set. The Travis-led “So Much Blood” off the same album followed, featuring some subdued acoustic work from a man (Travis) whose aggressive playing throughout the night would eventually break four strings — three guitar, one fiddle.
This blue-collar style was emblematic of the show as a whole, whether on tracks like “Another Year Again” and “Cut Corners” off the critically lauded “Darker Circles”; covers of the Louvin Brothers and the Byrds; or the variety of instrumental deliveries spanning the band’s entire career. And with every hard-charging track, incremental echoes of past collaborations stormed forth.
Whether via the Travis and Dallas chord play, Dean bass lines or Belitsky’s percussive gallop, you could hear the musicianship that has driven popular tracks like Case’s “Hold On, Hold On.” On record, this work is impressive.
On stage, the Sadies’ genre-bending sound is simply mesmerizing, as was proven for those who casually strolled into another night of memorable music in the Queen City.
Who: The Sadies
When: Feb. 19
Where: Buffalo Iron Works