2018 was a great year for the local music scenes surrounding the St. Bonaventure community. Bonaventure is in an ideal location, being around two hours away from Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, providing great access to see some of the best touring artists the music business has to offer. I was able to travel to some exciting venues that I hadn’t yet been to, such as the Spark Art Space in Syracuse and Anthology in Rochester. Both locations provide great atmospheres for their growing local scenes.
It would be wrong to talk about local venues without mentioning the opening of Buffalo’s newest music venue, the Rec Room, that would fill the gaping hole left behind after the closing of the beloved Waiting Room. The shows that I was able to catch proved the Rec Room’s great potential in the Buffalo music community.
How could I talk about 2018 and not reminisce on the memories of the last cross-country Vans Warped Tour? The disappearance of the tour will leave a major hole in the summer of all punk teens in the U.S. The yearly task of picking my favorite shows of the year is always a burden because each show has something special to offer. Bands such as Neck Deep, Real Friends, and The Story So Far, all making huge appearances at the Town Ballroom in support of their new albums, instantly makes it hard to pick just one. Then bands such as Gideon and Super Whatevr, with their impressive and intimate performances only make things harder.
After much debate and consideration, I have chosen my top three shows of the year. However, this is not a list of my favorite bands, it is a list of shows that I believe even without knowing the bands, you could still have a great time at. With 2018 having such a strong roster of shows, 2019 will definitely have its work cut out if it wants to top this stacked year.
#3 Vans Warped Tour (Darien Center, NY)
The summer of 2018 would mark the end of an era by holding the final cross-country Vans Warped Tour. Starting in 1995, and spanning over 24 summers, the tour influenced not only generations of fans, but music as a whole.
By bringing in acts such as Knuckle Puck, All Time Low, As It Is and Bowling for Soup, Warped Tour would end on an exceptionally high note. I have attended the tour for the past 4 years religiously and looked forward to it more than I did for my own birthday, so to say I am sad would be an understatement. The Vans Warped Tour is a breeding ground for not only new music but new ideas as well. By hosting a whole slew of bands from a wide variety of genres, providing a home for organizations to spread their message and ideas and even having a reverse daycare for the parents to hang out in, the Tour has something for everyone.
However, the ending of the Vans Warped Tour provides an exciting new opportunity for bands of all sizes to try to fill the hole created by the tours absence. Also, with 2019 being the would-be 25th anniversary of the tour, it puts the possibility of Vans Warped Tour related events on the horizon of the eagerly awaiting fans.
#2 Bumpin’ Uglies (Town Ballroom, Buffalo, NY)
This was an amazing show for a whole bunch of reasons. One major reason was that it was my first time at Buffalo Ironworks and I can also say it will definitely not be my last! Their outdoor patio, upstairs viewing area and huge floor provide multiple concert experiences. This show was also my first reggae experience so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it. However, the local reggae scene blew me off my feet, by not only being super engaged in the show, but also by being the friendliest crowd that I have ever experienced. As a concert photographer, you sometimes have to get in people’s way to get the perfect shot and not everyone likes that. Yet, the friendly reggae crowd seemed honestly happy that I was there to capture and report on the scene that they call home.
Finally, the main event of the evening, Bumpin’ Uglies, would play an unbelievable hour and a half long set, spanning multiple albums and EPs. I was also able to catch up with the band before they played their set and one really interesting thing that they shared was how they change up their sets for each show, even shows on the same tour.
“We change up our set for a couple of reasons, one being that we realized fans were no longer coming to a single show, they were coming to blocks of shows, so we wanted to make sure those dedicated fans weren’t seeing the same show each night. Another reason is because it is boring to play the same set each night,” said lead singer Brandon Hardesty. Everything from the venue, the fans, and the band made this night obviously worthy of a spot on this list.
#1 Counterparts' Private Room Tour (Rec Room, Buffalo)
This was one of the first shows that Buffalo’s newest venue, the Rec Room, would host. This show was so recent after the opening of the venue, that alcohol wasn’t even served because of the venues lack of liquor license. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking that the show was ruined, because Counterparts brought a handful of new songs off their recent release Private Room, and a wide variety of bands to support them. This variety of bands from a range of genres is what really set this show apart.
Varials would start off the night with their heavy hitting breakdowns and groovy beats. Yet, after Varials, Have Mercy, the emo rock band, brought a different vibe to the party that would have the entire crowd singing along. Next, the spoken word rock band, Being As An Ocean, would pick things up again, with front man Joel Quartuccio spending more time in the crowd than on the stage. Finally, Counterparts would end off the night on an especially high note with new songs and old favorites for their fans listening pleasure.
This interesting tour bill of bands is something relatively new. Usually bands tour with other bands who have a similar sound. However, with the ending of Warped Tour, that brought bands of all genres together. We might begin to see more of these genre branching tours in the near future.
Written by: Chandler Poczciwinski