GUEST COMMENTARY BY MARK HENRY
I recently read an interview with comedian Louis CK, who is amazing, in Rolling Stone magazine that prompted me to write this missive. And, for the record, I never subscribed to Rolling Stone. It just keeps coming to my home despite not actually asking for it and their notices of cancellation. How it started being delivered to me is a mystery.
At any rate, in the article, Louis makes a blatant reference to Buffalo and Niagara Falls, NY.
Quote – “Doing gigs in Buffalo and Niagara Falls where people are talking and not that interested in what you’re doing, and you just feel like an asshole. You’re just trying to survive the moment…”
It got me to thinking. He’s wrong. We are the true a–holes.
Know why? Because I see it at every concert I attend. I see it at every stand-up show, every public event. I dealt with it when doing sports talk on WGR. (Quick sidebar – the other day on the Howard Simon show, the board-op let “James in the Falls” on the air. For f—’s sake, I would have put my producer’s head through a wall for letting that clown be a part of the show. Has no one at that station learned anything? I had a standing order that he was never to be let on based on his long history of ass-hattery and bulls— mentality that only added an air of misinformation and combativeness. At the very least, we would park him on hold and see how long it would take before he realized he was never getting any air time.)
Forgive me, where was I? Oh, yes: this region’s inability to shut up.
In 1999, I was able to catch Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds at UB’s Performing Arts Center. It was a terrible excitement to see a guitar virtuoso like Reynolds alongside Matthews. The two had cancelled a previous show due to illness, so this stop ended up being the last one on their acoustic tour. What happened was a travesty that actually soured the duo from doing acoustic tours for almost two years. Yep, Buffalo. We did that.
I saw and heard it firsthand. I have a copy of the show and it’s disgusting. Morons talking, yelling out their well thought out bulls— and so on. At one point, Matthews stopped a cover of the Stones’ “Wild Horses” to tell people to shut up. How ace. How wonderful. How typical. Last time I caught Allan Holdsworth at the Tralf, some jerk-off was actually whistling along with the music. WHISTLING! I have never seen someone react in the way Holdsworth did – calling the dunce out, chastising him and actually asking for his removal. I wholeheartedly agreed.
This past summer I caught a lot of shows at the Waterfront and saw some of the finest talent ever to grace this Earth kicking ass on stage. What was going on around it? Thousands of people just hanging out, not giving a rat’s ass about the bands on stage and chatting away into their cell phones or with their “BFFs.” Why go to a show when you can do that in your own backyard? Why waste anyone else’s time and enjoyment with incessant useless babbling?
Seriously, go somewhere else and complain about your job. Go somewhere else and rattle off nonsense. Stop doing it around the rest of us who want to see a show. I notice the same thing at sporting events, too. Apparently, it’s more hip to get sauced and talk to one another rather than pay attention to the talent before us.
I’ve been to shows all over the place – Toronto, Ohio, Oregon, Arizona, LA, DC, Florida… you name it. I never notice what I see happening here. And then we wonder why big name acts don’t bother with Buffalo when they set out on tour. Perhaps they know what I know: that we as a group are an unappreciative lot of morons who are so self-absorbed that we can’t close our traps for 90 minutes.
I have a lot of friends who do stand-up comedy in this area and I know how hard it is when people show up to events for the wrong reasons. I can’t believe they have the ability to push through the rudeness. Hell, I can just hang up on someone when they call my show. I like it that way.
Louis CK’s reference to this area is spot-on, and I while I acknowledge it might be this way in other places, when national figures specifically call us out, well, gang, that makes it a different ball game.
You know what I do when I go to a show? I shut up and enjoy the talent in front of me. I suggest the rest of the area does the same.
I was at the recent show of his and even though he blatantly insulted the town about how shitty it was (which was funny) he also said he likes doing shows here. I know the counter to that is that he HAS to say that, but if you look at his tours he always does stop here. This is pretty anecdotal overall, not sure enough to condemn an entire region.
Also, multiple bands have come here and made it a point to say how much they enjoyed the crowd. Particularly last summer Fitz and The Tantrums and Atmosphere made it a point to take to twitter and say how amazing the reception they got here was and how they didnt expect it.
@jk88 The most telling thing at the recent Buffalo show was probably at the end when he said something along the lines of “I make fun of you and I always dread coming here but it always turns out great.” That seemed sincere.
@BradRiter Agreed. I will say I was at the Jeff Mangum show at Babeville and people were talking through it. But its so hard to say its just a WNY thing and not people as a whole. I know this a guest commentary but there is plenty to criticize Buffalo for (and TB usually is on point with that) but this feels like a big reach.
As For The Dave Matthews/Tim Reynolds Concert You Speak Of…The One At Hsbc Arena The Show Sucked It Was One Of The Worst Concerts I Had Ever Been to I Think Celebrities Forget That Their performance PlayS Directly into How The Crowd reacts The Dave Concert Sucked Because You Couldnt Hear Anything…Not Because The Crowd Was Loud (Which Got Loud After You Couldn’t Hear Anything)But Because The The Words Sounded muffled Like A Shitty bullhorn Not To Mention It Was Well Known Beforehand That It Was The Last Concert For A Couple years
@RyanHill1 Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds have never played the Arena just the two of them. It is too big for a D&T show. It is pretty widely known in DMB circles that their CFA show in 99 is considered one of the worst crowds they have ever encountered.
If you had sound problems get better seats. If they didn’t play songs you like, don’t go anymore. The band has changed significantly and reinvented itself about 4 times now, so you really have 3 or 4 sets of fans. If I took my son (15) to a show, we’d both be hoping for vastly different songs to be played.
Honestly – I am not sure what is worse…. people talking at the show or the morons who spend the entire show holding up their phones to try and record the show for everyone else who is not at the show….. put your phone in your pocket – turn it off and enjoy the show. You can go without being connected to the grid for a few hours – trust me….. the pilgrims did it (though I am sure they all sat around lamenting about no football game on TV after thanksgiving dinner though). …. and one final thing… if your squeeze is too short to see the show – do not be that “genius” and put her on your shoulders…. no one behind you can see then. If you truly have that issue with not being able to see – stand at the edge of the crowd or get seats where you are off the floor – use some common sense.
The one thing I can say about Buffalo people is that there are less self important douchebags here than in other cities. You are right though, people do like to “hang out.” It comes with the territory, get over it. Anyways, Loius CK has big time esteem issues, which is obvious from his comedy. He’s kind of a big baby.
@SS99 Get over it? If it really bothers the performer then It’s a lot easier for them to go to another venue in another city than to just “get over it.” Depending on the act, they could easily go to somewhere like Rochester and get about as many people showing up to their shows and in fact, Rochester seems to get a lot better acts than we do in Buffalo. Why should they get over it and have to deal with people talking? The people who pay are there to see them perform and not the other way around
@SS99 You do realize that comedy is meant to be funny and isn’t necessarily a reflection on a person’s true personality.
The same thing happened when Mike Doughty visited a couple years ago! It was at the Towne Ballroom, and the people in the back at the bar wouldn’t shut up! He had to stop the show several times to tell them to knock it off.
Doughty blocked me on Twitter for saying that I enjoyed his work with Soul Coughing. He’s pretty sensitive.
I wish there was someway to apologize ….
i started reading this article but then i got 4 new notifications on my instagram so i checked that instead halfway thru.sorry.im sure it was a good story.
I’ve experienced this so many times that I’ve become very picky on what shows I’ll go see. I love live music, and I love creativity. I go to concerts for the experience of seeing talented bands and artists be able to channel their creativity to provide entertainment. Usually at some point in every live show I have a memorable moment that just blows me away and takes me to another place. I used to go to over 20 shows per year, and I just can’t stand the crowds anymore.
I refuse to go to Darien for any reason because EVERY experience there is awful.
I saw Counting Crows back in 2002 and Duritz had to stop the show to tell the people crowd surfing not to kick the people holding them up. which leads to two issues: #1 – there were people crowd surfing at a Counting Crows show (wtf). #2 – who the hell doesn’t know to crowd surf and not kick people? And even if they don’t “know,” isn’t there just common decency?
Tragically Hip shows have become impossible. I went to the show/mini festival last year at Butler’s Barracks at Niagara-On-The-Lake (you’d think there’d be some decency being at a unique venue). The show also had The New Pornographers and Death Cab for Cutie, two other great bands with incredible musical talent, and the crown just made it miserable. They talked through Death Cab, basically cat calling Ben Gibbard the entire time about his divorce from Zooey Deschannel. Nobody knew who The New Pornographers were, which was a surprise considering how often they come to the are, and they didn’t even cheer or clap when songs ended.
When the Hip started, they rushed the stage (which was expected), but had no respect for the people who were already there, Just a lot of pushing and shoving. They knocked my kid, who is a football player, strong as an ox, and not easy to move, to the ground. They bumped against my wife so often we had to say something, politely at first, and the response we got when we asked them to stop was that they just did it more. We then got caught in the middle of a circle of drunk friends, who decided to scream requests at the band – with the songs being requested basically songs The Hip have played at every Buffalo show I’ve ever been to.
I also know Ryan Adams (not Bryan Adams, Ryan Adams – the one with talent) has blacklisted Buffalo – and while this may not be a big deal to a lot of Buffalonians who probably have no clue who he is, it should matter to people with good taste in music. I believe The Hold Steady has also blacklisted Buffalo from what I know, which again probably doesn’t matter to most of you, but it does to me.
I’ve had terrible crowds for true artists like Paul Simon, Iron & Wine, The National, Rufus Wainright, Jason Mraz, DMB (I’ve also had great crowds for DMB), and don’t even get me started on sporting events.
That being said, I will not hesitate to see a show at Soundlab (though I don’t know if they’re still going or not) or the Tralf, and am willing to see a show at Town Ballroom if the band is right, and while I’ve never been to Babeville I expect it to be a great venue (I’m seeing Calexico there soon and can’t wait) .
Also, I can’t deny I have seen some amazing shows in the area as well – from major acts like The Rolling Stones, The Hip, DMB, Springsteen, BNL, Guster, Grace Potter, to lesser known acts like The National (at the time), Bloc Party (at the time), Maximo Park, Okkervil River, Girl Talk, Architecture in Helsinki, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Roots, The Album Leaf, No Doubt, Parliament Funkadelic, and a ton more I sure. And Matt Nathanson at the Wharf last year was probably the best crowd I’ve ever been at,
And while Country acts and Classic Rock acts aren’t my scene, I’ve been to some of these shows and these concerts seem to be the closest to Buffalo’s “wheelhouse,” which depresses and saddens me, but I guess accepting reality instead of being angry at the booking choices of music venues. All of that being said, I’ve never had a bad experience in concerts I’ve gone to in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, NYC or Toronto, and while the sample size is smaller, it is similar in
Still, despite Buffalo having this reputation for years, this summer lineup has a lot of promising acts:
– Josh Ritter (here already)
– Of Montreal
– The Avett Brothers
– Shawn Phillips
– Bloc Party
– Great Lake Swimmers
– Portugal. The Man.
– Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
– Big Boi w/ Killer Mike
– Zac Brown Band
– Counting Crows & The Wallflowers
– I’m sure there’s a good band in the Warped Tour
– Tegan & Sara
– Train | Michael Franti (Spearhead) | Gavin DeGraw
– Justin Bieber (shut up)
– Bob Dylan | Wilco | My Morning Jacket
– Toby Keith <a real American>
– Lil Wayne w/ T.I.
– Buddy Guy | Robert Randolph (and if you’ve never seen Robert Randolph, you must)
– Grizzly Bear
– Girl Talk w/Icona Pop (and if you’ve never been to a Girl Talk show, you must)
– John Mayer w/Phillip Phillips (Mayer shreds, I don’t care what people say)
– Maroon 5 w/Kelly Clarkson & some other guy too
Now if only we could get Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons, Flaming Lips, The Gaslight Anthem, Modest Mouse, and bands that never leave Europe over here, I will be a happy man.