Summer’s final Canalside Live concert happened on Thursday night with a double bill of Toronto talent: headlining USS and opening band Nikki’s Wives.
Relentlessness was the night’s overarching theme as nonstop pelting raindrops – and driving dance beats, hit the crowd.
Moments before USS took the stage, their modest black band banner was hoisted, inspiring chants of “USS! USS!” – a cheer repeated throughout the set when adoring fans could get a shout in edgewise between songs.
And speaking of cheers, the trio hit the stage as “The Bills Make Me Want to Shout” blasted from the PA system.
“Buffalo, 1-2-3!” shouted Jason “Human Kebab” Parson, band DJ and chief rabblerouser/stuntman as they propelled into opener “Yin Yang.” Energy during the set would stay at peak dance club levels, save for an acoustic respite midway, provided by acoustic guitar-strumming Ashley Buchholz (a.k.a. Ash Boo-Schultz), who during most songs matches EDM-meets-rock riffs with third band member, drummer Matt Exit.
During “Anti-Venom,” Kebab did a headstand the entire song, managing deck manipulation with his feet.
After excellent dance-inducing “Freakquency,” he said “I don’t know how to describe it, but Buffalo might as well be home for USS.”
More declarations of BuffaLove would happen after “Shipwreck,” an anti-drug anthem with Buchholz on lead vocals.
“We have always loved Western New York,” said Kebab. “Because of you guys the emotion on this stage is very high tonight, so thank you very much.”
Their cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” was well-chosen, blending into the set’s mad energy perfectly. Mid-song, D.J. Kebab stripped off his leather jacket, revealing a Sabres T-shirt. Before song’s end, Buchholz would get on Kebab’s shoulders: both not missing one beat on their respective instruments.
Their ska-infused “Hollowpoint Sniper Hyperbole,” from 2008, was introduced as the reason that the band first played Buffalo, and “The reason that we keep coming back.”
During their encore, Kebab jumped off stage during “Work Shoes” to bring an audience member back onstage with him.
The young boy, outfitted in headphones, red superhero cape, shorts, and sandals, did some impressive dancing with the band. Afterward, expressing Canadian kindness, Kebab and Buchholz gave the kid some big hugs.
Several audience members had kids in tow: one father-son duo in Maid of the Mist-style rain ponchos did some fine synchronized shimmies throughout the set.
Nikki’s Wives (Nikki, Dylan and Nate) played to a very sparse crowd during their dance-club-ready set: it was early, and it was raining mightily.
Nikki, of fine rock-operatic voice, announced that their “Biggest fan in Buffalo, Squeak,” was in attendance. A big dog was walked onto the stage in a Nikki’s Wives T-shirt – a great segue into the traditional, “Buy Our Merch” moment.
“Stay dry out there,” she added, before set’s end.
Thursday night at Canalside Live