I’ve been a denizen of the Buffalo music scene since 1990. As one of the cagey cretins given to hitting live music clubs at least once a week during the winter, and three times that many in the summer, I’m sometimes surprised when I meet people who, as an example, have never been to Nietzsche’s, or need directions to Mohawk Place, or give me a puzzled look when I ask them if they’ve ever been to Buffalo Iron Works. Yes, it’s increasingly more difficult to keep up with the scene as you get older and your responsibilities begin to pile up. That’s a good excuse. But it’s still an excuse. And you’re still missing out on some incredibly cool goings-on.
Here are a few things everyone who claims to be a music lover in Buffalo needs to do at least once. I firmly believe checking these off your list as you do them will greatly add to your quality of life. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
1. Hit Jim’s Steakout on Allen Street after closing down Nietzsche’s.
There’s nothing quite like an early breakfast, Buffalo-style. Whether you are a musician looking for a way to come down after a gig, or a fan who has been out soaking up the sounds well into the wee small hours, cap off your evening with a quick stop at Jim’s for a steak and cheese orgy.
2. Attend an official after-party show following a Canalside gig.
I’ve really loved watching this “after-party” scene develop across the country. If a band of a particular style is playing a major gig in town, a similar local artist will latch onto the show and attempt to keep the party rolling with a relevant after-show.
Sometimes, as when our own Moe. returns, this will include members of the band joining local musicians at a club like Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar (253 Allen St.). Sometimes, if a jam-based artist is passing through Canalside, a group will gather and offer up an evening of Grateful Dead tunes at a local establishment.
Attending one of these gigs is a great way to support the local community, while simultaneously prolonging the inevitable moment when you have to admit that it’s time to go home. You might end up striking pay dirt. Remember when Prince followed his Shea’s gig with an intimate late-night jam session at the Tralf? When Fleetwood Mac plays First Niagara Center on Saturday, the after-party will take place next door at Buffalo Iron Works (49 Illinois St.) with Rumorz: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac performing beginning at 10:15 p.m.
3. Do an Allentown music one-night tour.
It’s possible to take in a plethora of killer sounds without leaving Allentown. Start with an early show at Pausa Art House (19 Wadsworth St.). The majority of gigs in this intimate venue start by 8 p.m. and end by 10. You can catch an eclectic mix of music ranging from traditional forms of jazz to modern classical and stylings that veer toward the delightfully avant garde.
Wander down to Nietzsche’s after the curtain falls on the Pausa show and catch what is normally a triple-bill of bands – if it’s a Thursday, Friday or Saturday – kicking off at 10 p.m. Nietzsche’s offers everything from indie rock and punk to jam bands, folk and classic rock.
Across the street from Nietzsche’s at DBGB’s, the music tends to run right up until closing time, and might be of the neo-soul, hip-hop, rock, indie, jam or EDM variety. Great beer selection, too.
4) Go to a gig that is outside of your comfort zone.
I’m big on clique-busting. I’ve never really understood the strict and stubborn loyalty to one single musical genre. This gets me in trouble from time to time, as, say, metal-heads will call me out for digging the Grateful Dead, EDM heads will look down their nose at old school rock ’n’ roll bands, loyal Sportsmen’s Tavern patrons will view askance anything that doesn’t kowtow to the tenets of rootsy authenticity, and rockers will steer clear of hip-hop or EDM.
The thing is, there is good and bad in every single conceivable genre, and an open mind benefits from taking in a wide array of different styles. If you venture out of your musical comfort zone, you’ll never know what you might be missing. Love rootsy Americana? Why not check out an indie band at Mohawk Place or the Waiting Room? Have metal coursing through your veins? Hit up at blues jam at the Armor Inn Tap Room. Wanna throw glow sticks at an EDM bash? Go to the Sportsmen’s and hear some deep and primal stuff. It’s all good.
5. Attend a local Record Store Day celebration.
Certain people still laugh at me when I proclaim my love for vinyl records. Some likened my faith in vinyl’s imminent return to dominance to a stubborn clinging to the primacy of the 8-track tape. But when even Walmart is starting to stock vinyl albums in its stores, you know that the money men are starting to notice the ever increasing sales figures for vinyl amongst Millennials and Gen X-ers alike.
If you really want to see firsthand what all the fuss is about, attend a local Record Store Day celebration where you’ll hear a ton of local live music, witness lines out the door even before the store in question opens, and get a taste for what it’s like to be a true vinyl fetishist. RSD celebrations in Buffalo rock. The next one is April 18.