Sounds of the City: Day by day
At the risk of resorting to cliché—and trashing a perfectly nice calendar—you could toss a dart at pretty much any day this month and hit a concert worthy of excitement. And thanks to the area’s fabled outdoor series, odds are good the ticket price will be in the vicinity of ten bucks, if not completely free. Here’s a highly selective list of offerings that runs the gamut from past legends to current tastemakers, from the mainstream to the post-post-modern, and from classic rock to hip-hop to sounds so fresh they don’t even have a category.
Tuesday, August 14, Artpark
When it comes to multiplatinum artists with oodles of ubiquitous radio hits, it’s hard to beat Crow’s track record in the 1990s and the early 2000s. There’s a yearning, rough-hewn quality to her voice and a melancholy undercurrent to her lyrics that give some of her most anthemic smashes—songs like “All I Wanna Do,” “Every Day is a Winding Road,” and “Soak Up the Sun”—a hint of darkness beneath choruses that might sound on the surface like calls to party the night away. (Next up: scoring a new musical based on the 1982 film Diner.) Her appearance in Lewiston is a sure-fire crowdmaker.
Other acts to keep an eye on at Artpark this month include O.A.R.’s free show on August 1, guitar hero Peter Frampton’s gig on the 7th, and the reunited Jane’s Addiction with Mute Math on the 20th.
The Harbor lineup
There’s no way to isolate a single standout among the eclectic array of performers at Canalside this month. Indie rockers are stunned by the surprise resurrection of the Jesus and Mary Chain, in town for a rare (and free!) U.S. show on August 2. Ska revivalists will be eager to catch the Mighty Mighty Bosstones on their latest trip to town on the ninth—a shared bill with another frequent visitor to WNY, sometime Lowest of the Low frontman Ron Hawkins. A week later on the 16th, pioneering rappers Salt-n-Pepa trot out their many hits. (The old-school vibe resumes September 1 with an appearance by LL Cool J.) Still on the rise are singer-songwriter-comic Matthew Nathanson and Lights, both on August 23. Blues rockers, the J. Geils Band, play August 31.
Thursday, August 23, Outer Harbor
DJ Gregg Gillis has a surgeon’s touch when it comes to manipulating sound; All Day, his latest album under the moniker Girl Talk, features an astounding 372 samples over the course of seventy-one minutes.
Among them are snippets of such unlikely suspects as Neil Diamond, Genesis, and the Go Gos along with rappers from Public Enemy to Young Jeezy. It shouldn’t work, but it does, and beautifully. Gillis’s live performances are essentially participatory parties, so plan on fun.
Wednesday, August 1, Town Ballroom
(888) 223-6000, townballroom.com
This Brooklyn-based outfit has made a name for itself in recent years with densely textured, hook-filled compositions that sound both experimental and utterly accessible at the same time. The band has a new album—Fragrant World—to promote, and its spirited live shows are a perfect way to do that, conjuring up dancefloor-ready rhythms at sensory overloading volume.
Word to the wise: Plan on returning to Town on the fourth for the latest local appearance by Austin’s Black Angels. If last year’s gig at the Tralf is any indication, you’re in for an evening of mind-warping latter-day psych rock that you won’t soon forget.
Sol y Sombra
Tuesday, August 14 from 7–9 p.m. Bidwell Park
What better way to enjoy a late summer night than with a spirited set of salsa, Latin jazz, and merengue in the open air? If the players in this Buffalo-based ensemble—their name is Spanish for “sun and shade,” appropriately enough—look and sound familiar, you may have encountered them as the Latin Jazz Project, active on the local scene since 2000. Should you miss them in the park or simply want a second dose, you can also catch them at the Dance Tent of the Elmwood Festival of the Arts on Sunday, August 26, at 1 p.m.
Elsewhere this month
If you’re in the mood for a little alt-country/alt-folk/alt-everything twang, you’ve got several options. Sportsmens Tavern has Mark Stuart and Stacey Earle on Sunday, August 12. Three days later, on Wednesday the 15th, Marshall Crenshaw plays the same venue with special guests the Bottle Rockets. Across town at University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts, Lyle Lovett and His Acoustic Group perform on Sunday the 5th. Finally, the local premiere of Journeys, the latest Neil Young concert film, is scheduled for August 10 at a theater near you.
Ron Ehmke writes about music, bars, plants, and other subjects for Spree and a variety of other publications.