By Lori DuVall-Jackson
It was a rowdy, sweat-drenched evening of rock ‘n’ roll by old friends the Headstones. A Canadian band from Kingston, Ont. (home of the much loved Tragically Hip), they’ve played Buffalo many times since their debut in the 1990s.
They’ve been a band that I’ve been meaning to see for a couple of decades and just never got around to. When I saw them in this year’s Canalside lineup I made sure to get a couple of tickets.
The day before the concert my husband groaned and said, “Tomorrow?” when I reminded him. We had been to Artpark the night before to see Jeff Beck, and it had been late by our standards. We both have daytime work schedules and were normally in bed by the time we got home. This year, though, has led to a lot of late nights, which is fine with me.
The Buffalo summer concert scene has been an up-and-down experience in recent years. For a while it seemed like all the really good shows were at Darien Lake, a venue I rarely cared to travel to. Some years the musical pickings were pretty slim. Whether it was location, cost or date, I haven’t seen many bands in recent summers.
This year has been a complete turnaround. The Headstones were one of a half-dozen shows I had scheduled, with a couple more added when friends had extra tickets. It got to the point where I wrote down a list: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats (with the Head and the Heart), Jack White, the Decemberists, David Byrne, Jeff Beck, the Headstones, Jeff Lynne, Father John Misty, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and the Spinners. Whoa!
Because of prior commitments I missed a couple of shows, but otherwise it’s been a fantastic summer for music. Outdoor shows, which made up the bulk of my schedule, are always iffy due to weather concerns. (Who remembers the deluge endured by the Goo Goo Dolls?)
I’m not one for hot, muggy weather but it’s been a boon for concertgoers who don’t have to sit through rain delays. Not a single show this year was impacted by anything other than high temperatures, which can be nullified with a little common sense.
The highlight for me was the Headstones. Admittedly, they put on the kind of show I prefer and Canalside was the perfect venue. We staked out a spot near the sound tent, which turned out to be a prescient decision when Hugh Dillon, the lead singer, did a crowd walk and we locked eyes as he turned our way. I gave him a delighted grin and a literal pat on the back.
Shortly after, I felt a tap on my arm and turned to see two of the graduate students from my department at UB. They were amazed at my presence, probably astonished that I had dragged my ancient bones to an after-dark event. We took a selfie, and then I resumed dancing up a sweat as the band tore into a couple of my favorite tunes.
In the end, it was my husband who didn’t want to leave. He was engaged in conversation with a guy who turned out to be with Cock Robin, a local band I remembered from the days when the shows started around 11 p.m. We talked Buffalo music history, which has been interwoven with Canadian cousins such as the Hip, Lowest of the Low, Barenaked Ladies, Jeff Healey and many others.
One thing we all agreed upon – it’s been a great summer for live music.
I know, it’s only rock ‘n’ roll. But I like it!
Lori DuVall-Jackson, of Buffalo, has enjoyed a summer packed with live music shows.