1) Kesha and Macklemore, 7 p.m. July 22 at Darien Lake Amphitheatre (9993 Allegheny Road, Darien). Individual lawn tickets are as low as $29.50, while lawn four-packs are available for $22.50 per person. All ticket info here.
Commentary: Does the summer concert season really start until Kesha walks into Darien Lake? (Yes, it started more than a month ago, but that's beside the point).
Beyond the rather goofy hits that precipitated the rises to stardom of Kesha and Macklemore, the two artists also unite under the themes of inclusion and diversity, if the messages at a Tennessee show last weekend are any indication. (Also, worth noting from that review: Macklemore threw a concession hot dog to a fan, so keep your head up).
[Update, July 21: The Buffalo Brunch Festival has been canceled for 2018 due to vendors dropping out, the venue announced.]
2) Buffalo Brunch Festival, noon to 3 p.m. July 22 at Wilkeson Pointe at the Outer Harbor (225 Fuhrmann Blvd.). Admission is $20 in advance and may be purchased here. A ticket entitles the buyer to a food-sampling ticket from each of the participating vendors.
Commentary: When will the brunch craze die down? Homing in on the ideal late-morning/early-afternoon place to eat on Sunday seems just as important as deciding where to go Saturday night, it seems.
After selling out its first year, the Outer Harbor's brunch festival welcomes a new group of vendors for 2018: 189, Totally Edible, Cruisin' Crepes, Perks Cafe, The Grove Juice Truck and Boheme Brunch, plus distillery tastes from Black Button Distilling.
Craft beer, wine, beermosas and regular mimosas will be available for purchase, too. Find the specific menu items here.
Commentary: Thankfully, I can spare you from "Need You Now" quips and point directly to a Tim O'Shei interview with the band's Dave Haywood, who discussed at length how the band intricately prepares for the fan's experience for each show on the tour stop. Which band member gravitates toward Bruno Mars?
Peek at the full interview below, and don't miss Gavin DeGraw, the show's chief opener.
4) Poland Independence Gala and additional events, July 20-22, with the gala scheduled for 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. July 21 at Samuel's Grande Manor (8750 Main St., Clarence). Admission to the gala costs $75 and may be purchased here; online sales end at 11:59 p.m. July 19. The Polish Happy Hour, which kicks off the weekend at 5 p.m. July 20 in Cheektowaga Town Park, is free to attend.
Commentary: It's a massive weekend for the Buffalo Polish community, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Polish independence - with events ranging from the Polish Happy Hour that kicks off the weekend on Friday, through the 80th annual General Pulaski Parade down Harlem Road in Cheektowaga on Sunday.
But the biggest event is Saturday's fancy gala spiced with special guests such as Poland Secretary of State Anna Maria Anders, M*A*S*H star Loretta Swit, Canisius College alum wrestler Beth Phoenix, journalist Rita Cosby, boxer Adam Kownacki and many more. Swit will be honored with the Polish-American Icon Award, while Lady Blanka Rosenstiel receives the Polish Culture Lifetime Achievement Award.
Commentary: The two-day live music, outdoors and food festival in Clarence takes cover bands to a new level. Friday night's headliner, Face 2 Face, imitates the music of Billy Joel and Elton John, while you can probably guess which two bands Saturday's main draw - Bon Journey - takes after.
Festival proceeds benefit Meals on Wheels, while festival promoters tout the beer tent as one of the summer's best.
Commentary: "The First Purge," a horror film shot in Buffalo, was released July 4, and it's inspired a fashion event coming to 500 Seneca on Saturday. New York City designer Daykeyla, beauty artist Chantel Eaton and runway model Carmina Suzanne are among the key figures participating, while the attendees with the best "Purge" outfit earns $150.
WBLK DJ Redd Roxx will emcee the event, while DJ J-Real and Doughboy Qui handle the music.
7) 38th annual Subaru 4-Mile Chase, 5 to 9 p.m. July 20, begins at Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway. Advance registration is $25 here, with day-of registration, beginning at 11 a.m. at Elmwood/Bidwell, costing $30.
Commentary: Just having this particular race down Elmwood Avenue deemed a "chase" makes me desperately desire a personal record (if I were competing, that is).
$10,000 in prize money, complimentary post-race beer, t-shirts to the first 1,100 runners and the scenic urban route are among the perks of an event that nears four decades of existence. Kenyan competitors swept the 2017 Open category with some truly sparkling times.
8) Grease Pole Festival, 5 to 11 p.m. July 20, noon to 11 p.m. July 21 and 22 at the Olivencia Community Center (261 Swan St.). Free admission.
Commentary: The Puerto Rican and Hispanic-heritage festival will span three days on Swan Street, with headlining duo Villariny Salsa Project, Saturday fireworks and the Sunday grease pole showdown (5 p.m.) are the marquee activities.
9) Hamburg BurgerFest, 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. July 21 on Main Street in Hamburg. Free to attend - food tickets may be purchased on-site for 50 cents apiece.
Commentary: Will there be hamburgers at this year's Hamburg BurgerFest? Past iterations have curiously skimped on the title food, but early indications are favorable, as seen on the vendor list here. Harris Catering actually has the word "burgers" next to its name, which is promising. Below is photo proof that hamburgers were served last year.
One interesting point: Voting to narrow the four finalists of the burger design that will grace the water tower on Howard Road will be done at the festival.
Commentary: Marvel at the colorful balloons soaring above Wellsville, a quaint town in Allegany County; the giant balls of hot air will take off at junctures throughout the weekend, leaning toward sunrise and sunset for more brilliant views.
While the cost for rides depends on the pilot and the balloon, it's free to enjoy the scenes - especially the afterglow balloons - as well as the Saturday evening fireworks. See the full schedule of events here.
BONUS: Party on the Portico with the Strictly Hip, 5:30 p.m. July 20 at Buffalo History Museum (1 Museum Court). Cost is $5 for museum members and $10 for the general public.
Commentary: Popular Tragically Hip tribute band Strictly Hip continues its summer slate of performances with a stop at the immaculate portico of the Buffalo History Museum on Friday evening, with the looming statue of President Abraham Lincoln presumably smiling down on the festivities.
*Five events for next week:
- Father John Misty at Canalside Live!
- Colored Musicians Club Jazz Festival
- Warped Tour at Darien Lake
- The Struts at Rapids Theatre
- Taste of Orchard Park