Thursday night’s second-last Canalside concert was, without question, Buffalo’s most vast and lusty summer dance party.
The line-up, ranging from mega-hit hip-hop, to keys-propelled jazz, featured headlining T-Pain with two local openers – The Buffalo Spell and Radarada.
Some said at the concert that 25,000 were in attendance. Before T-Pain’s time on stage that estimated number jumped to 40,000 – if those outside the venue’s barriers were to be counted, it was said.
Promoter Artie Kwitchoff, of Funtime Presents, the bookers of Canalside, said “There’s definitely over 20,000, I’m walking to the back to have a look.” And off he went, into the beautifully-diverse and record-breaking crowd.
T-Pain hopped onstage just as the twilight sky was a smudgy mix of indigo and electric blue, opening with the 2011 hit “Booty Wurk,” the lead singer in pith helmet and the trio (two singers + d.j.) in all black.
It was after this tune, with the crowd scream-singing along, that laptop troubles shut down the decibels for a tense moment.
“We workin’ this out, y’all,” said T-Pain, “It was an explosion, too much fun.” He went on to comment on the size of the crowd: “It’s filled up to capacity, I love it.”
Once the tech stormcloud passed it was on to “Cyclone,” and “Black and Yellow” with T-Pain ditching the helmet revealing his bandanna (black) and primo moon-walking as a funky Henry Mancini “Pink Panther Theme Song” played softly in the background.
T-Pain sings with ferocity, beautifully a cappella, and moves like he dances for a living. Take that those who only think auto-tune when they hear his name.
Addressing the crowd later in the set T-Pain said “Please don’t break down the gates, cuz they will stop the show. You late (expletive), deal with it. I’m the one that’s supposed to be late – these are the real fans,” pointing towards those fans right in front of the stage. Before ending T-Pain said “Damn, Buffalo, you better give us some wings after this, I am steaming!”
The Buffalo Spell, led by jazz keyboardist Toney Rhodes, was in the night’s middle slot, playing tunes that shifted their base in jazz, R&B and funk. Taking the stage Rhodes spoke one of his few sentences during the set: “We’re gonna put a spell on you for a couple minutes.”
The band features two of everything they need: saxes, keyboards, drummers, and guitarists.
Rhodes spoke again before their final tune, to introduce the youngest member of the band, 16-year-old Declan Miers, son of the News’ music critic, Jeff Miers.
Rhodes had bass-playing Miers (who has been playing with Rhodes for about a year, according to proud mom Kim Miers) take a solo, gently shoving him to center stage to shine.
Radarada, Buffalo’s happy-go-lucky hip-hop sextet – and Buffalo Spree cover band for their recent Music Issue (where, full disclosure, this reviewer photographed them) played while the sun still shone mightily, for a short and sweet set. One of the band’s three lead singers, Ana “Little Cake” Vafai, was in various states of wardrobe disarray, ultimately performing in tights, men’s briefs and a satiny robe.
Radarada finished up their exultant set with a Prince cover – an appropriately party-worthy “1999,” joined suddenly onstage by a mysterious backup dancer. The singers, including Marty “WZA” Martinen, jumped in unison, ready for take-off.