I learned a lesson about fan loyalty recently, when a feature piece I penned on the ascent of the Buffalo band Aqueous stirred the ire of portions of the Every Time I Die fan base.
The Aqueous story came with a headline that read "Aqueous: the biggest band to emerge from Buffalo in 20 years." ETID fans begged to differ.
They noted that the Buffalo-born metal-core outfit is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. And they accused me of ignoring ETID’s accomplishments, although I've written about the band several times over the years.
I’ll admit I felt a bit defensive at first, but that feeling rapidly dissipated and turned into an ungrudging respect for ETID fans. I asked the band’s uber-energetic frontman Keith Buckley if there was a secret behind ETID’s intense personal relationship with its fans. (I was also hoping he wasn’t mad at me about the social media drama that erupted around my Aqueous piece. He wasn’t)
“We soak our merch in PCP before each show to guarantee it goes directly into their bloodstream, then we give them the venue’s Wi-Fi password and just let them go nuts online. Kidding!,” he said.
“I think their loyalty to each other and to this band’s music has as much to do with the amount of time we’ve been a band as it does with the intimacy we cultivate at a venue. Twenty years is a long time to know someone. It’s not an ‘us’ and a ‘them.’ It’s unified. The ETID family belongs to everyone there. The fierce defending of it makes perfect sense to me, in those terms.”
ETID’s annual holiday extravaganzas have been celebrating that tight-knit, devout community for almost as long as the band has been together. On Dec. 15, the band returns home to deck the hardcore halls for the 14th year running, as “’TID the Season” takes over Buffalo RiverWorks for the second year in a row.
As has been the case every year since the band launched the tradition, the show is sold out. I asked Buckley about the vibe at RiverWorks, and how it feels to have fan demand require moving the event to a room with a larger capacity than previous homes like the Waiting Room or Mohawk Place.
“I definitely don’t want to slander the other venues because those years have a special place in the lineage” he said. “But I love RiverWorks because there is so much room to give back within. We want people to come here, to our home, and feel taken care of, to meet people and bond over a new experience, not just over cheap alcohol - though that will inevitably happen. It’s basically a very humble way of saying ‘Come on in and look at all our cool (stuff).’ ”
That “cool stuff” includes a set from another legendary Buffalo band – hardcore progenitors Snapcase, joining a lineup (Bouncing Souls, the Menzingers, Knocked Loose, Turnstile, Angel Dust, Vein) that reads like a world-class festival celebrating heavy music. I asked Buckley what Snapcase means to him.
“Oh, they were everything to me, And it wasn’t even about them being local - that was just a fantastic coincidence. They had an energy I never knew could exist in music before I heard them. They changed my outlook on music completely.”
Ultimately, for Buckley, "Tid the Season" is a celebration of the city and the fans that have given his dream sustenance for 20 years.
"I don’t want to belabor the point, but we are very proud of Buffalo. It shaped us and gave us the kind of character that you need to have when you’re in this field for as long as we’ve been. There is nowhere like it on earth and we owe it thanks.”