Buffalo weather reports foretold a rainy Father's Day and, sadly for thousands of fans of Kiss the Summer Hello, the reports were correct.
The annual concert, produced by pop radio station Kiss 98.5, is the sonic harbinger of the city's most temperate season, a showcase of the pop artists populating the station's playlist. The setting was soggy, but the show did play on.
The Canalside gates opened at 2 p.m. Sunday to give VIP ticket holders time to meet and greet artists on the bill before general admission one hour later. Music was slated to begin at 4 p.m. At about 3 p.m., it began to rain. Not gentle, the-flowers-need-it showers, but a run-for-cover downpour.
An announcement came from the stage that the concert would start at 5:15 p.m., after the worst of the weather passed. The work of juggling artists, set times and travel arrangements, and honoring those who paid extra for their "VIP Experience," commenced for radio station staff. One artist, British actor and singer Dua Lipa, canceled her set.
[Gallery: Performers at Kiss the Summer Hello]
A steady stream of people headed away from the area in front of the stage, some in disposable plastic raincoats. Under the Canalside VIP tent, Stephanie Dulski, Entercom sales and marketing consultant, told hundreds of assembled fans to check in with staff, who would chaperone them backstage for photos, hugs and autographs with the performers.
Some fans took cover in the lobby of KeyBank Center across the street; others headed to nearby businesses. There was one dramatic lightning streak in the sky over Lake Erie.
By 4:45, the sky cleared up and fans were let back into the venue. Exuberantly they ran for positions in front of the stage. The Chainsmokers' "Don’t Let Me Down" was the first tune to hit the loudspeakers, an appropriate sign that this show was back on track.
"We made it through the rain together, Buffalo!" cheered Janet Snyder, Kiss 98.5 morning show host. Up first was smooth-crooning Daniel Skye, who would strap on a guitar for his second song. Skye, celebrating his birthday that very day, would play a few more and tell the assembled fans: "I love you so much."
Next up was Liam Payne, taking the stage with six sultry backup dancers. All in black, they contrasted with Payne's all-white ensemble. After his ultra-short set of a single song, Snyder asked Payne, "Can you just wave to them one more time?" He complied.
As the backup band members for Noah Cyrus (sonic doppelganger of sister Miley) took their places, the sun blasted through the clouds. It also was announced that the Austin Mahone meet-and-greet was rescheduled (ladies were seen sobbing with love/joy after it).
Cyrus would do a few of her own songs, including twangy "I'm Stuck," before covering The Weekend's "I Feel It Coming." Her "Make Me (Cry)" with its line "Hear the thunder, see the rain" would be another weather harbinger, with more rain coming a little later, as hard as before.
With the first sight of Austin Mahone, the crowd issued a collective shriek of joy. The young man is a deft moonwalker, adding hip-swinging twists to the classic steps. His set high point was his hit "Lady."
Following Mahone was Jamaican dance hall star Sean Paul and his own stream of masterful, catchy songs. Originally slated as headliner, he came on much earlier than anticipated.
Having left to meet deadline, it was reported via a text from a friend that The Vamps followed Sean Paul, as did more rain.
Kiss the Summer Hello, featuring Austin Mahone, Sean Paul, Noah Cyrus and more
Sunday at Canalside