Erics – and their BuffaLove – ruled the night.
Two bands featuring singer-songwriters (and bandleaders) named Eric performed at a soggy – yet sunny – Canalside Live on Thursday night. After a second consecutive Thursday of torrential rain, and funnel clouds whipping through the Southtowns during the afternoon, the sun came out to shine upon this pre-weekend party.
Eric Paslay and his band headlined, with rising star and West Seneca native Eric Van Houten opening up the rollicking new country show. Paslay was introduced by WGRZ weathercaster Maria Genero, who shouted "We're gonna give him some BuffaLove!" after taking a selfie from the stage.
Red-headed, slim Paslay oozes charisma, and at 6' 6" is a tall drink of water. One merch item, a $5 beer koozie, was imprinted with the Paslay-inspired "This is ginger country."
That same merch table informed concertgoers that the first forty fans spending $35 could meet the platinum-selling star for a post-set meet & greet. Who could deny that that is concert budget money well spent: a t-shirt, a koozie, and a chance to wrap one's arms around Paslay.
Set opener "Keep on Fallin'" melted into bigger hit "Song About a Girl," which had fans intently singing along. The song about a proverbial girl ironically lists a bunch of country lyrical conventions that the song ain't about (Chevy's, blue suede shoes, Jack, tailgates). This then melted into a sublime rendition of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game."
There would be other delving into rock and roll material: Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" following Paslay's biggest hit "Friday Night," Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain," and the Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." During the latter Paslay, stripped of guitar, displayed some fine dance moves. There was even an impressive cowboy-booted moon dance.
Following "High Class," Paslay tossed a pair of black sunglasses that he had been wearing into the crowd, and then one of his concert t-shirts, causing a ruckus. To fans grabbing for the t-shirt he suggested that they "Simmer down," adding "Y'all are crazy."
Later, during the jumping and drums-fueled "Backstage Pass," he tossed two actual passes toward fans. One hit an awaiting hand, and the other landed in the pit. A concertgoer hopped the barricade, scooped up the pass and landed back at her spot before you could say "Backstage pass!"
Opener Eric Van Houten and his band played a 45-minute set that rocked a lot harder than their recent appearance at the 18th annual Taste of Country. Just like at that event, Van Houten thanked WYRK and his champion Wendy Lynn.
Van Houten stated several times during his set that he is a huge Paslay fan and was awaiting the set to merge into the crowd, have a Canadian beer, and watch. As a solid show-opener he created anticipation for his headlining buddy. He would note that both he and Paslay spell their names the same way, adding "If there are any Erics with a K out there, we can still be friends, but I'd like to talk to your parents."
One of the zenith songs of his set, "Come Find Me," was, he said, "very fresh." Like ink-still-wet fresh. For this song he removed his jean jacket revealing his sleeveless blue and yellow t-shirt reading "Believe In Buffalo" as he performed, acoustically and solo.
The band would then do a great cover of Third Eye Blind's "Semi-Charmed Life" before the singer-songwriter noted the presence of one of his favorite food trucks, Lloyd, off in the distance.
After his set, backstage, Van Houten would say that he would be writing new songs later that night, and the next day, his day off.
Next to him was another singer-songwriter buddy living in Nashville and visiting Buffalo for the first time, Taylor Davis. Davis was still gushing about his first-ever beef on weck, eaten a few hours earlier at nearby Swannie House.
Thursday night at Canalside