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Residents of the incredible imploding city could use a bit of good news about now, and they just got it. The folks who put together Buffalo's free outdoor concert series each summer have not only done it again, they've done it even better.

Nationally known acts will be appearing in this year's 15-week Thursday at the Square series, and Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor returns for two days of concerts at the Erie Basin Marina. Both continue to be wildly popular traditions, ones that simply make this city a better place to be. The importance of that can't be overstated, and it is especially welcome in this time of downward-spiraling municipal fortunes. Buffalo's finances may be tanking, but its prospects for downtown summertime fun are flushed with success.

Buffalo Place deserves a great deal of credit for conceiving and staging the Lafayette Square series, running this year from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. each Thursday until Sept. 4, and the waterfront event, from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on July 26 and July 27. The Thursday at the Square events draw 16,000 to 18,000 people -- most of them from the suburbs -- each week, with an estimated annual economic impact of $3.2 million downtown and $4.5 million overall.

That's great, but mostly this is about the music and fun. It doesn't matter whether you're of an age to enjoy the music, which this year comes from a long list of groups, including Grammy Award winners. It doesn't even matter if you're one of the many who actually show up at the square -- you benefit anyway from the energy these events pump into the region and the boost it gives life in Buffalo.

Oh, right -- the Voodoo Glow Skulls are scheduled for June 5 with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, a group that drew 30,000 fans to the season-opening concert in 2001. That kind of crowd has strained the capacity of the square, triggering some complaints of overpopularity and overcrowding.

That's just so unlike the complaints we usually get here. Sure, it's a problem -- but it's also music to our ears.

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