Looking ahead to 2014, I’m feeling optimistic regarding the Buffalo music scene. Which makes me nervous.
For so long, I, like so many who are active in the scene, have taken strange comfort in clinging to low expectations. Things have been rough around here for such a long time that it has become easy to operate with a “business as usual” world view.
However, a simple look around at the flurry of activity in the downtown area suggests that we are all going to have to crawl out of our comfort zones this year. Something’s on the move, it’s impossible to deny. There are new convergences happening, and with them comes the hope of some sort of apotheosis, a perfect storm where abundant and diverse talent meets economic investment and a rush of “consumer” support.
The curse of hope and optimism beckons, and only a cynic refuses to heed the call. So if my wish list reads like a pipe dream, forgive me – these possibilities all feel like attainable goals at this point.
1. Local openers on every outdoor summer stage.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s tougher to pull off than one might think. Often, artists booked to play our many high-profile free and soft-ticketed outdoor summer concerts are part of a package tour, which means multiple artists, without room for the addition of a local opener. Some national artists simply don’t want local openers on their bill. Local promoters have consistently made efforts to throw regional bands a bone when they can. But such is the depth of talent in our region that it would be nice to see a local band on every one of these high-visibility gigs.
2. A big breakthrough for a Buffalo band.
There are so many artists in the region who are more than qualified for the big time. Not that we want to see them leave town, but let’s face it – a breakthrough for a local band will help the countless others who work here in relative anonymity. I won’t name names here – head out on any given weekend, and you’ll see a Western New York band with the goods to go the distance.
3. Radio station 107.7 FM Alternative Buffalo starts a local show, features local bands in regular rotation, and begins satellite broadcasts from local concerts.
There are good people involved in this new radio station, and we would dearly love to see it become truly localized – a community station that speaks to, for and from the community that supports it.
4. We finally shake off our Mohawk Place hangover.
With the impending release later this month of the outstanding Mohawk Place documentary “Bring Us Your Vultures,” it’s time to finally let go of the club that served as a home-away-from-home for so many of us. Mohawk Place was the right club at the right time. That time has passed. Onward!
5.First Niagara Center begins to book a more diverse palette, i.e., not just the major Top 40 acts.
Drake, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Selena Gomez, and soon, Justin Timberlake and Jay Z are all major shows, and most have been or will be sell-outs. But these bookings tell only part of the story. We need more rock shows at our arena. The National, Queens of the Stone Age, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paul McCartney, maybe even Radiohead – these artists all play similar sized venues in other cities. Why not ours?