Only in Buffalo would a city-set facility featuring lions, tigers and bears not provide enough summertime entertainment for sun-deprived locals.
But surround these fascinating animals with food trucks, draft beer and live music? It’s a must-attend event, and it’s the third annual BuffaLoveFest, set to occupy the Buffalo Zoo from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. May 29. (Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at the door.)
The Queen City-centric event will feature local artisans, brewers, distillers, and vendors, all while local acts like the Albrights serenade visitors admiring amphibians or passing by the fossil-focused Bone Zone.
But maybe you’re not into toasting giraffes with pints of Rutherford B. Haze while Black Rock Zydeco tunes reverberate in the distance—and that’s fine. Perhaps you would rather pack into local rock clubs for Elvis covers and a multi-instrumental punk free-for-all. Or maybe you’re interested in a night of New Jersey emo or a set with one of the greatest blues harmonicists of all time. All are options on Buffalo’s show schedule, and they all land on this weekend’s list of recommended gigs.
Legends of Sun Records, 8 p.m. May 29 at Buffalo Iron Works (49 Illinois St.)
Those who scored tickets to Shea’s for the latest run of Broadway smash, “Million Dollar Quartet” are familiar with the famously photographed Sun Records recording session that hosted Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley.
That foursome’s music is formidable enough without any other labelmates in the mix, so you can imagine how overwhelming Friday night’s planned Iron Works showcase will be with aforementioned legends’ hits joined by Roy Orbison tunes—and covered in loving tribute by the local likes of Ten Cent Howl and Kickstart Rumble. Even Sun founder Sam Phillips would be impressed.
Before you go, listen to: Johnny Cash’s “Get Rhythm.”
Venue and show info: buffaloironworks.com
Mallwalkers, 10 p.m. May 29 at Nietzsche’s (248 Allen St.)
Do most bands without the word “orchestra” in their name need 11 members? No. But the rolling punk-rock party that is Buffalo’s Mallwalkers is not like other bands. Throughout its2013 Peter Walkee Records release, “Shake the Rust Off,” the Daniel Carosa and Jaz Frazier-led gaggle alternate between Dead Milkmen-inspired absurdist rock to the Queen City’s modern answer to the B-52’s. Funky and jangling—and not above Great Lake name-dropping on songs like “Brownfield Beach Party”—the band should enliven Nietzsche’s Allentown corner to start the weekend.
Before you go, listen to: “Going Downtown.”
Venue and show info: nietzsches.com
The Early November, 8 p.m. May 30 at Waiting Room (334 Delaware Ave.).
New Jersey emo quintet November’s trajectory hasn’t followed a straight, uninterrupted line since its formation in 1999. After early success and signing to New Found Glory and short-term Dashboard Confessional home Drive Thru Records, the band caromed through a multithemed triple-album (“The Mother, The Mechanic, The Path”); a subsequent hiatus; and, as is the modern way, announced its reunion five years later via social media. Now with the early May release of “Imbue” - its fourth full-length album - the Arthur Enders-led outfit is ready to introduce Buffalo fans to the newest tracks amid its on-again career arc.
Before you go, listen to: “Narrow Mouth”
Venue and show info: waitingroombuffalo.com
Sugar Blue, 8 p.m. May 30 at Sportsmen’s Tavern (326 Amherst St.)
Little Walter. Sonny Boy Williamson. James Cotton. These are three names that come to mind when noting the greatest blues harmonica players of all time. The Harlem-born Sugar Blue (born James Whiting) is another.
The one-time street musician turned Rolling Stones session harmonicist - featured on “Some Girls” opener, “Miss You” - has been releasing solo material and collaborating with music’s biggest names since 1976. And whether jamming alongside one-time mentor, Willie Dixon, or blowing across his own work on 2010’s “Threshold,” Blue’s has earned the type of admiration that’s sure to greet him inside Sportsmen’s on Sunday night.
Before you go, listen to: “Another Man Done Gone.”
Venue and show info: sportsmenstavern.com