Concerts in August
Ten hot August nights for cool cats
Revered cover band The Machine has been performing Pink Floyd for thirty years.
Images courtesy of Artpark
With apologies to both Neil Diamond’s three similarly titled live albums and Wilbur Scoville’s system of rating the heat level of chili peppers, here’s a handy guide to ten excellent shows during the busiest month of the WNY concert season. Many of these take place on outdoor stages during the dog days of summer, but the “heat” we’re talking about has less to do with sunshine and AC than intensity—onstage, as well as in the crowd. Needless to say, “cool” is not a bad thing at all; who doesn’t love a nice frosty adult beverage in the shade on a sweltering day? We’re borrowing Scoville’s famous scale to sort things out. To refresh your memory, a bell pepper contains 0 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), a jalapeño has 2,500 SHU, a ghost pepper rates 1 million, and the ominously named Carolina Reaper tops the chart at 2.2 million.
Só Brasil Bossa Nova featuring Saranaide and Friends
Wednesday, August 14 at the Hotel Henry
Surely the coolest genre ever invented (in every sense of the term), bossa nova has been helping scenesters relax since the 1950s. JazzBuffalo salutes the sound with vocalist, guitarist, and flautist Sara Rodriguez backed by Harry Graser, Nelson Rivera, Brian DeJesus, and David Phillips.
PAIRS WITH: A caipirinha, of course.
Tuesday, August 6 at Artpark
Chilling out doesn’t get any chiller than this. On record they’re a pioneering electronica duo with a two-decade track record of excellent recordings, but their stage act goes way beyond two-guys-twiddling-knobs as they bring in guest singers, dancers, and live musicians playing instruments from around the world to flesh out their lush, lounge-ready “outernational” sound.
PAIRS WITH: A cool cocktail you just invented, with a splash of CBD.
The Manhattan Transfer and Take 6
Friday, August 6 at the Chautauqua Institution
Just one of these long-seasoned, jazz-inspired groups would guarantee a mellow evening for lovers of smooth vocalese, but a double bill (as documented on a recent TV special) is sheer perfection.
PAIRS WITH: Blue champagne, if you can get your hands on the mythic beverage the Transfer sang about on their 1970 debut; if not, the scotch and soda saluted on their second LP will suffice.
The Don Menza Septet
Sunday, August 4 on the back steps of the Albright-Knox
The museum wraps up its free summer jazz series with a visit from the Buffalo-born, California-based tenor sax player known for his work with such cool cats as Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, and Louie Bellson.
PAIRS WITH: A lightly chilled Napa white.
Friday, August 16 at the Chautauqua Institution
These Northern California folk-rockers are famous for bringing the Laurel Canyon sound of the seventies (think: Jackson Browne, CSNY, Warren Zevon, even the Eagles) into the new century, although the longer they stick around, the more eclectic their music gets. Their excellent live show—festival-honed and ideal for the Institute’s amphitheater—is a bit less mellow than their early albums might lead you to believe.
PAIRS WITH: Their cheerful 2016 album We’re All Gonna Die included the single “When the Tequila Runs Out (We’ll Be Drinking Champagne),” so plan accordingly.
Plasticiens Volants and The Machine
Thursday, August 22 at Artpark
The French street theater group who made their American debut at Artpark two summers back returns with more of their trippy inflatables, this time set to the music of Pink Floyd (who knew a thing or two about the coolness of giant floating pigs themselves—and whose history was full of heated arguments), here performed by a revered cover band.
PAIRS WITH: If you have to ask …
Beck and friends
Tuesday, August 13 at Darien Lake
The headliner—an icon of rockstar coolness since the nineties—you already know. But the rest of the lineup of his “Night Running” Tour is white hot: Cage the Elephant, Spoon, and Sunflower Bean. There’s not a loser in the bunch.
PAIRS WITH: A locally sourced IPA.
Thursday, August 29 at Town Ballroom
During their forty-five-year (!) career, these East LA rockers have recorded concept albums in Spanish, covered Disney classics, scored films, collaborated on a stage show with Tony Kushner, and taken deep dives into their love of smokin’ blues, R&B, and punk rock—yet a large portion of the world only knows them for their hit version of “La Bamba.” So be it: After almost half a century, they can be as weird as they want or as straightforward as a dancefloor needs.
PAIRS WITH: A fine aged tequila.
Friday, August 23 at Darien Lake
They claim they’re calling it quits with this “End of the Road World Tour,” but that remains to be seen. Generations have donned the face paint, and more than a few casualties have probably resulted from fan attempts to swallow fire.
PAIRS WITH: An ice-cold Bud Light and a shot of Fireball.
Smashing Pumpkins and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Saturday, August 10 at Darien Lake
We’re not claiming this is necessarily going to be the hottest night of the year, only that the evening is anchored by two of the hottest tempers in alternative rock, each with a long history of inter-group drama. Horror/hardcore/deathrock outfit AFI opens, and you can be sure there will be fireworks at least once before it’s all over.
PAIRS WITH: Tommyrotter gin in a broken glass