The asphalt is poured to support a stage setup larger than at Canalside. Space has been allocated for green rooms, equipment storage areas will be converted to a craft beer enclave and a roof deck will eventually accommodate VIPs for myriad of music-related occasions that could bloom off Buffalo’s clandestine James E. Casey Drive.
This ambitiously improvised concert space within the Cumulus Media campus was originally set to debut at the inaugural WEDG HRVST Festival on Oct. 14. But the radio station staff decided to move its indie-rock gala—featuring acts including headliner Phoenix, Manchester Orchestra and former Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon—to Buffalo RiverWorks.
WEDG Program Director James Kurdziel said the switch was made to accommodate the enhanced production of what is planned to be a spectacular union of music, craft beer and community. He also assured that it’s not a matter of if Buffalo has its newest concert venue. It’s simply a matter of when it debuts.
“This is still the priority. This is still the plan,” said Kurdziel of converting its station’s outdoor space to the soon-to-be-known-as Cumulus Festival Grounds. “We’re still doing this, and if this isn’t the first show here, then [some future event] will be the first show here. It’s happening.”
After considering other local spaces for HRVST throughout the summer, WEDG personnel and After Dark Entertainment’s Chris Ring conceived the idea of carving out space at the station’s surprisingly vast 12-acre footprint near the intersection of Dingens and South Ogden streets, not far from the former Ogden Street Concert Hall. The move made sense not only for WEDG’s future events, but also for Cumulus neighbors 97 Rock and Classic Hits 104. 1, who each sponsor their own share of live events. Together, all three will have access to an outdoor space that, once ready, will accommodate food trucks, craft beer stations, merchandise kiosks, and if fully built out, as many as 10,000 concertgoers.
“The amount of options we’ll have depends on your imagination,” said Kurdziel. “We’ve talked about a lot of different types of shows and even a larger comedy festival, so the sky’s the limit for all of that.”
In the meantime, the station’s listeners will have to be content with taking in the first edition of the HRVST fall extravaganza off the Buffalo River. The festival boasts plenty of planned highlights, including the first-ever Buffalo appearance by French dance pop outfit, Phoenix; sets by neighboring acts like Kingston, Ont. wailers Glorious Sons and Flour City favorites, Joywave; and new material from Fallon, who last visited the area in 2016 while touring on his stellar solo debut, “Painkillers.”
Combined with more than 20 varieties of craft drafts and some of city’s finest street meat, the event is ready to make a grand entrance into Buffalo’s annual autumn schedule. But next year, Kurdziel and Co. will bring it back to where it was conceived, nestled in a venue on its edge of the city.
“The more ideas we had for this venue, we realized it wasn’t only good for this festival. It could just be good, period,” said Kurziel. “Ultimately, this is going to be an incredible space, and a place for us to do our stuff.”
WEDG’s HRVST Festival
With Phoenix, Manchester Orchestra and more at 1 p.m Oct. 14 at Buffalo RiverWorks, 359 Ganson St. Tickets are $45 to $125. Visit wedg.com.