If last week’s green-hued tour of Buffalo finest tavern stages made you weary, bad news: It’s time to take a deep breath, get in a good stretch and find your favorite barstool for a weekend of March Madness.
NCAA’s Men’s Basketball Championship tournament kicked off earlier this week with its First Four play-in games, but blossomed into its full-blown field of 64 on Thursday — and continues with today’s game of local interest when underdog University at Buffalo battles West Virginia at 2:10 p.m.
If you plan entering any local venue with televisions [see some options here], be prepared for your plans to be complemented by spontaneous shouting and exclamations of expert upset picks from people who haven’t watched more than 15 minutes of college basketball all season. This scene should be omnipresent whether inside the sports bars of Chippewa or the rock clubs of Allentown, so whether you’re into the tourney action or not, be prepared to weather the storm.
But this on-court mania doesn’t put the brakes on other live entertainment across the Queen City. Sure, the games will be on at the bar, but bands are still scheduled to take local stages. Cow-punks from Syracuse and balladeers from Buffalo; a Cleveland-bred pop collective and a lone Wolf-turned-alt rock trio. They’ll all compete with the buzzer-beaters and heartbreakers of this opening weekend of hard-court action, and they’re all part of the Farrell Four.
Pale Green Stars, 9 p.m. March 20 in Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St.)
If your assumption about a band named “Pale Green Stars” is that they are ardent Everclear devotees—so into the Portland, Ore. rockers that they named their Syracuse-based outfit after the band’s 1995 song of the same name — you would be mistaken. Not only is their name not connected, but neither is their cow-punk sound, rollicking apart from Everclear’s '90s alt-rock chords and, instead, appropriate for a stage covered in chicken wire, saturated in locomotive blues riffs and growling vocals on songs like “Lesson 27” and “Never Took Nothin.” The trio of bassist Brian Coyne, guitarist and vocalist Jeff Jones and drummer Jeff Tripoli will deliver these songs and more when they roll their Saranac-soaked style down I-90 for a weekend kickoff date at the Mohawk.
Before you go, listen to: “Lesson 27”
Venue and show info: buffalosmohawkplace.com
Sometimes, characters and scenes evoked via Buffalo’s musicians can paint the city’s most vivid picture. Americana artist Davey O and indie singer/songwriter Sara Elizabeth are two such balladeers. The stripped-down, gritty dealings of Davey O have reverberated on past releases like “Testing for Rust” and have now flourished on 2014’s critically acclaimed “No Passengers,” an emotive seven-song walk that starts with the raw admissions of “The Song I Wrote” and ends with musician’s heartfelt take on the folk classic, “Long Black Veil.” His appearance against the Ward’s basement brick would be a welcome acoustic occasion all by itself. But when joined by the gleeful tenderness of UB Department of Music-trained multi-instrumentalist Elizabeth—she of Edie Brickell echoes and gliding tracks off last year’s “Be Well”—it makes it a night to celebrate two more neighborhood storytellers, performing their locally crafted cuts on one of downtown’s most intimate stages.
Before you go, listen to: Davey O’s “The Song I Wrote”
Venue and show info: babevillebuffalo.com
SomeKindaWonderful, 8 p.m. March 20 in Waiting Room (334 Delaware Ave.)
If the introspective singer/songwriter gala in the bowels of the 9th Ward is too tame for your tastes, you could simply slip across Delaware Avenue to bask in the Gibson thrust and vocal versatility served up by Jordy Towers and Cleveland’s SomeKindaWonderful. On one end, the quintet can serve up bottle-hoisting bar rockers, as evidenced by “Cornbread,” the opening track of the band’s 2014 self-titled debut. On the other, they can loft radio-ready pop singles for the Adam Levine set like the trichotillomaniac favorite “Caveman” or “Reverse,” a couples’ quarrel soulfully layered around Towers’ pained vocals. It’s an interesting recorded range, and one that will attempt to be replicated live on Friday night.
Before you go, listen to: “Reverse”
Venue and show info: waitingroombuffalo.com
Wolf, 8 p.m. March 21 in Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St.)
Since Chelsea O’Donnell (aka Wolf) first found a Buffalo stage at age 17, she’s carved out an independent presence, one that could inhabit the spotlight alone, yet fill a room with a group’s worth of raw expression. This came across on her 2014 debut EP, “Gold and Dirt,” with a collection of straight-ahead tracks amplified by the young artist’s angst-driven, honest delivery. Now flanked by the support of locals Bill O’Connor (drums) and Ben Randall (bass), Wolf is ready to rock with her new-look trio and release her follow-up EP, “It’s Electric” as part of Saturday night’s CD release party at the Mohawk.
Before you go, listen to: “Infectious”
Venue and show info: buffalosmohawkplace.com