This week marks the 30th anniversary of a pair of noteworthy dates in the esteemed annals of Western New York concert history.
On Aug. 25, 1984, Michael Jackson – still at the height of his “Thriller”-induced stardom – arrived in Buffalo with his five cash-strapped brothers for a two-day Victory Tour stop at Rich Stadium. If you were lucky enough to score tickets to either show or, like me, had parents who thought it was totally reasonable to take their first-grader to a sold-out stadium show, then you’ll never forget pieces of the spectacle. Pyrotechnics. “Billy Jean.” Tito Jackson. All under a blanket of repetitious screams, and all mere days before Michael’s 26th birthday on Aug. 29.
But maybe you weren’t there. You never glimpsed the moonwalk from the depths of one of Rich’s end zone; didn’t combo sparkling socks with black loafers in Orchard Park; and couldn’t tell the difference between Marlon and Jackie Jackson’s percussion styles. You missed out on history – but it doesn’t mean you’re not interested in what the Nickel City has to offer in way of live music at the end of this anniversary week (and what would’ve been the late icon’s 56th birthday weekend). There’s nothing booked that’s comparable to what was happening off Abbott Road three decades ago, but here are four options to at least scratch your live itch before Labor Day.
In lieu of the late King of Pop, here is the Farrell Four:
Humble Braggers, 8 p.m. Aug. 29 in the Ninth Ward at Babeville (341 Delaware Ave.)
The ambient, synth-infused efforts of Buffalo’s Braggers aren’t reminiscent of anything off Jackson’s extensive catalog, but that’s just fine. Floating tracks like “What’s Fair” (off the debut EP “Safe Haven”) and the percussive “Hold On, We’re Coming Home” (off the EP “Say”) have already generated enough local buzz to earn the trio alt-rock radio play. Comparisons to genre neighbors like Passion Pit and Animal Collective (and even a “Lo-Fantasy”-mood Sam Roberts Band) are also surely percolating, and will be readily accessible in Babeville’s basement venue.
Before you go, listen to: “Hold On, We’re Coming Home”
Venue and show info: www.babevillebuffalo.com
Soul Butchers, 9 p.m. Aug. 29 in McGarret’s (946 Elmwood Ave.)
Fact: Nothing off the Soul Butchers’ 2014 release “18 Wheeler” is even vaguely similar to something produced by Quincy Jones. Still, songs like “Yoohoo” and “Man Made Time” will make you want to dance – if your style of dancing includes pumping your fist and stomping barroom floorboards with steel-toed boots. The revved trio’s straight-ahead style is the essence of tattered, dirt-under-the-fingernails rock, sure to jump-start your weekend once it shakes McGarret’s Elmwood locale.
Before you go, listen to: “Up Jumped The Devil”
Venue and show information: facebook.com/McGarrets
Tom Callahan, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30 in the Shannon Pub (2205 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda)
Before you go, listen to: “Let The Music Take Us Home”
Venue and show information: www.shannonpub.com
Albert Lee Band, 9 p.m. Aug. 30 in the Sportsmen’s Tavern (326 Amherst St.)
Could guitarist Albert Lee have stepped in for Eddie Van Halen’s epic guitar solo on “Beat It”? Maybe not, but if you listen to his electric work aside names like Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker and Emmylou Harris, you should at least be curious what the six-string legend could have added to the track. Watch the man’s fingers dance across his Fender on Elvis Presley songs or Led Zeppelin covers and you’ll wonder what tunes his handle couldn’t improve. Thankfully, he’s got plenty of his own material, all set to echo inside Sportsmen’s friendly confines.
Before you go, listen to: “Country In Harlem”
Venue and show info: www.sportsmenstavern.net