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Concert Reviews

Neil Van Dorn Band with Big Eyed Phish
February 6, 2015
★★★★★
Lessons learned tonight: Apparently a cover band can awesome enough to turn me into a real fan of a band I’ve never particularly followed or been interested in before. This is not the experience I was expecting from this show, but I will certainly take it. I am now 100% a fan of the Dave Matthews Band. Opening up the night was some locally-grown entertainment with the Neil Van Dorn Band. These guys showed off their impressive musical chops with a mix of impressive original tunes, including a few songs from their in-progress sophomore album, and some beautifully grooved-up covers, highlighted by takes on the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Black Balloons” and Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me” (both songs I legitimately haven’t heard in 5+ years and still apparently know all of the words to). Guitarist Tommy Mac (proudly rocking a Megadeath shirt at a jam-band show) was a human highlight reel for most of the set, ripping off epic solo after epic solo and adding some serious edge to an otherwise laid-back set. Between Mac’s rock star skill, Van Dorn’s charisma and songwriting prowess, and the rest of the band’s ability to play just about any style and play it well, these guys are full of reasons to check them out and keep an eye on them as they continue to develop their sound and make new music. Due to my very limited knowledge of the Dave Matthews Band, I really can’t attest to how good Big Eyed Phish is as a cover band, but based off of the three songs I did know going in (for the record, “Ants Marching,” “What Would You Say,” and “Crash Into Me”) and how ridiculously hyped the crowd was for most of the show, it’s probably safe to say that they are quite good at what they do. They said repeatedly that they were just a bunch of massive Dave Matthews fans, and they played with the energy of a bunch of guys who obviously loved what they were doing. They did jam bands everywhere proud to, with frequent extended solos, jam breaks, and songs that went on for a loooong time but never really seemed to drag. My one complaint about the show as a whole was that the set didn’t quite sustain the same aversion to dragging that the songs did. These guys went for almost 3 hours, and the crowd was fading pretty hard for the last 30 minutes or so. Even though the guys on stage were still going strong, it’s difficult for any band to keep a crowd going hard after even 2 hours. Honestly, Bruce Springsteen should probably be the only active artist that plays a show that lasts for that long. I do appreciate the effort it took for Big Eyed Phish to put on this long of a show though. In any case, I’m now sold on DMB and will probably dig through their whole catalog in the next week or so, and it’s all thanks to the incredible effort of a bunch of very talented, very dedicated fans.
Review written by: Mitchell Owens
Panama Wedding
October 30th, 2014
★★★★☆
The night started out like most; a few openers, none of which are known. A band originally from Rochester called Machine Gun English opened. They rocked out loud and proud, but because they are a fairly new band their stage presence was almost nonexistent. Next up was Royal Tongues, who knew how to work the crowd. After the Royal Tongues lead singer was finished melting the hearts of all the women in the crowd came TEAM. TEAM is a band from the Portland area. As an interesting bunch, they played hard, but I couldn't get over their hipster hair. After a long wait Panama Wedding came to the stage. The crowed roared and they broke into song. The bass was set to max, and they shook the Waiting Room. I wouldn’t surprise me if they made a blip on the richter scale. You could tell those guys love what they do; they looked so happy. They were electric together, dancing and singing around the stage, you could tell it was exactly what they wanted from the night. They recently released an EP and we got a sneak peek into their new album. Despite all of this, all of their songs sounded the same. There was no variation in their music, other then the occasional use of an extra drum kit. Although their synthpop music isn't my forte I had plenty of fun and would see them again.
Review written by: Isaac Smith
Mayday Parade
October 18, 2014
★★★★★
Mayday Parade took Buffalo by storm at The Waiting Room. I’d be surprised if the entire city didn’t hear the earth-shattering music played by the headlining alternative band. They brought down the house and the concert deserves a perfect score. Mayday Parade began their Honeymoon Tour last week, with bands Pvris, Major League, and Tonight Alive as openers. Together, all four bands put on an unforgettable show. Alternative band Pvris opened up the night like no other. I had never heard their music before, but I instantly became a fan after experiencing their live performance. Lead singer Lynn Gunn commanded attention through her incredible vocal range. In songs like “St. Patrick” and “My House,” her strong, raspy voice bolted into everyone’s bodies and made the ground shake. The band interacted with fans and took advantage of strobe lighting, raising the intensity of the atmosphere. With a packed-house on their feet, Pvris was followed by punk rock band Major League. They powerfully performed their hardcore set full of energy, making the crowd extra rowdy. Over-excited fans broke the rules by crowd surfing and “moshing.” Tonight Alive brought the opening acts home and all hands were up, rocking on. By now, fans were ready to hear the band of the night: Mayday Parade. The opening acts did Mayday Parade justice by pumping everyone up, and the wait for the band to play was exhilarating. Finally, the five members of Mayday Parade took the stage and opened their hour long set with throwback “Jersey” and the crowd went wild. Screaming fans danced and sang their hearts out with lead singer Derek Sanders. Mayday Parade rocked the house with songs from their newest album “Monsters in the Closet” such as “Ghosts,” “Girls,” and “Hear the Sound.” Sanders’ distinctive vocals shined during slow ballad “Hold Onto Me” as tears fell from love-struck fan’s eyes. The best part about the concert was the mix of old and new in the set list. My favorite Mayday Parade songs are from older albums, so I was hoping they’d play at least a few. They definitely pleased me and others by performing the ideal variety of throwbacks like “Kids in Love,” “Ocean and Atlantic” and “Black Cat.” When the band jammed out with the crowd, their nonstop passion traveled through the speakers and into diehard fan’s hearts. There wasn’t a quiet voice in the venue as fans belted out the lyrics that have been engraved into heads for years. My favorite part of the show was when Sanders changed tempo and played ballads “Miserable at Best” and “Three Cheers for Five Years” at the keyboard. He let fans sing the choruses for him as lighters lit up the venue. I’ve never been to a more entertaining, interactive, or authentic concert before. Mayday Parade loves what they’re doing, and it shines through. If you dig alternative music, I highly recommend the experience. As a diehard fan of five years, I know I’ll be there having the time of my life.
Review written by: Madison Hornung
DJ Elephante, Sage the Geminii, Matt & Kim
October 18, 2014
★★★★☆
While each opening act had most of the crowd ecstatic, it was Matt & Kim that brought the house down. The whole ride was wild, but each act was for a different audience. Because of this, there was an awkward divide in the community that was the audience. People were either dancing, or standing with their arms crossed and a bored expression on their faces. The first act, DJ Elephante, was the type of DJ who just presses buttons, lip syncs, and jumps, raising one arm with his little pointer finger erect. His “set" went on for a redundant, agonizing eternity. The second act, a rapper known as Sage the Geminii, seemed a little more authentic, revealing some rapping talent but destroyed it with cliché beats to back it up. Not to mention his random dancer, who seemed too young to be employed in the first place. Geminii further ruined gaining any potential respect when he pushed his dancer, playfully, but firmly enough that it seemed misogynistic, a trait famously demonstrated by rap artists. Way to stump the stereotype, Geminii. Once the two odd opening acts were over, there was a sense of relief that was overcome by the people who came just for Matt & Kim. In fact, a large sum of people just left after Geminii’s performance. It was, and still is, their loss, because the fun really began when the energy of Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino entered the room like an electric storm. Immediately, the real show starts. Before you could even try to prepare yourself for the powerful and colorful experience that was about ensue, there’s confetti, a charming amount of sweat coming from your body due to dancing, and plenty of booty-shaking Kim, standing on her drum set like the indie-dance-rocker-barbarian-queen that she is. In other words, it’s simply a blast. It “Don’t Slow Down” from there, either (see what I did there?). Thrown into their set were some funky covers like “Better Off Alone” by Alice Deejay. Almost every song, including those covers, were partially driven by audience participation, which was a common theme in the opening acts as well, but for Matt & Kim it wasn’t awkward, and nothing short of fun. There was a lack of discomfort in these audience-participation moments, and rather an actual immersive experience, like when the beat drops and everyone goes wild. Among some classic make-this-concert-more-fun activities like balloons bouncing around in the audience, water sprinkling, and t-shirt launching, there was Kim’s crowd-walk (as oppose to crowd-surf), where audience members raise their hands to form a platform for Kim, where she twerks (a twerk that wasn’t distasteful!) Plus, this communal-effort gave the audience the sense of community that they definitely needed. If you’re looking for a non-stop-pump-of-energy dance party, driven by positive vibes, uplifting sounds, and a little old-fashioned rock & roll type fun, a Matt & Kim show is what you’re looking for.
Review written by: Chloe Arzuaga
Twenty-One Pilots with Vinyl Theater and Misterwives
September 10th, 2014
★★★★☆
21 Pilots
While the intense energy of a concert can be overwhelming no matter the band, Twenty One Pilots with openers Vinyl Theater and Misterwives, was unbelievable. While normally opening bands just put off the excitement of the main show, Vinyl Theater and Misterwives mesmerized everyone with their mix of both slow jams and hot, electric numbers. However, the time taken in between bands was much too long, and left the crowd irritated and rowdy. When Twenty One Pilots finally came on, the wait was forgotten, and the entire audience lifted. The use of lights, narratives, smoke, and wardrobe was unforgettable, without feeling overdone. Their set featured mostly songs off their new album Vessel, but also included a few of their first hit singles. Not only that, but they did covers of a few other songs by artists such as DJ Khaled, Ace Hood, and Sam Smith. To ensure the energy level could go nowhere but up, they trusted the crowd with an unbelievable task. They sent a drum set, attached to a plank, out on the crowd, allowing them to hold it up. Then, the drummer, Josh Dun, crawled on top and drummed as the crowd supported him. It was an incredible moment, and almost bonded everyone in the room with the band. By the end, every person in the room was dreading the end of the night when the set would finish, so with a dramatic finale, lead singer Tyler Joseph fled to the back of the venue, climbed a pillar, and scared the life out of security. With all eyes on him, he finished his set with every fan in the room singing along and praising him. It was an incredible show.
Review written by: Delia Andalora