Headliner: Bumpin’ Uglies
Support: Kaleidoscope Sky, Joint Operation
Venue: Iron Works
Words and Photography: Chandler Poczciwinski
Buffalo was treated to a night of great music and even better vibes this past Thursday, October 4th as Bumpin’ Uglies (Annapolis, MD) came through town to start the next leg of their never-ending tour. Bumpin’ Uglies has spent quite some time in Buffalo. In the ten years vocalist Brandon Hardesty, bassist Dave Wolf, and drummer TJ Haslett have been touring, Buffalo has been a date on their map for the last seven of those years. Buffalo was one of the first cities that they ventured to when they first started to tour with band Pasadena. Back then, Bumpin’ Uglies mostly played to small crowds of about five or so people at a small local bar. However, this most recent appearance in Buffalo was not reminiscent of those times; their show at Iron Works really showcased the massive growth of this band, and the dedication of their Uglies Nation. Iron Works is surprisingly one of the only Buffalo venues that we have never been to before. After arriving to the venue, I discovered that this is truly a gem of downtown Buffalo. From the outdoor patio filled with chatter and cigarette smoke, to the upstairs viewing loft with plenty of comfortable seating, friendly staff, and overall great atmosphere, we will definitely find ourselves at Iron Works soon. This tour, Bumping Uglies is supported by Joint Operation, who jumped on the bill last minute after band, Stacked Like Pancakes, dropped off a few days before.
The first act to take the stage was local reggae-rock band Kaleidoscope Sky from Salamanca, NY, a small town nestled in the Southern Tier of New York close to our home at WSBU 88.3 The Buzz. They started as a simple two man jam band that grew into an outstanding 7 member musical act. From their reggae jam-band interludes to electrifying guitar solos coming from lead guitar player Bill Bratek, Kaleidoscope Sky has something for everyone.
Overall, their performance was outstanding, and vocalists Alex Haas and Ashley Paulus complemented each other very well in live setting. However, the screams from the crowd when bass player, Tristan Lee, showed his skills behind the mic, really proved that this band’s dynamic energy is what truly sets them apart from other reggae artists. Kaleidoscope Sky’s set was met with roaring applause from the crowd and were a perfect transition into the next act of the night.
Following Kaleidoscope Sky was Joint Operation, a Baltimore, MD band who jumped on this tour just a few days days prior to leaving, after complications with scheduled band Stacked Like Pancakes. This four-piece reggae-funk group puts all of their influences, from Nirvana to Sublime under one roof and creates an easy-listening sound with a reggae-rock vibe.
With their debut album set to release winter of 2018, the hype around this group is about to really take off. Despite only having four members, Joint Operation does a great job of filling out their sound. Vocals from Josh Lewis complemented with the guitar work of Ben O’Brien left no gaps in the mix. Joint Operation was the perfect band to jam out to while the rest of the venue filled out in anticipation for the headlining act of the night.
Finally, the band who is on (and forever will be) their never ending tour, Bumpin’ Uglies (Annapolis, MD). Coming off the release of their latest album Beast From The East released earlier this summer, this tour proves that even after a decade, Bumpin’ Uglies still has a lot up their sleeve. Haley and I were lucky enough to be able to talk to the band before they took the stage.
Our conversations varied from their lives when they are off tour, their long history in Buffalo, and obviously their music. Uglies’ frontman Brandon Hardesty shared his new task of being a husband with a child on the way, while balancing his ever growing music career. He tells us, “When you are on the road as much as we are, you spend your time at home trying spend quality time with the people you love, rather than just hanging out, due to our time at home being so limited.” The Uglies actually have a long history in Buffalo, it being one of the first cities that they would tour to when they first hit the road with an old band called Pasadena. Going from playing to a handful of people at small dive bars, to packing out Iron Works, you can see the growth of the Uglies in just Buffalo alone. Some fans at the show shared with me their long history with Bumpin’ Uglies from when they were playing their smallest shows, to other fans showing me their Bumpin’ Uglies tattoos. One fan shared that Pasadena was one of the first band’s in the reggae scene to take a chance on Bumpin’ Uglies and really give them the exposure they deserve. Now, the Uglies have seen a success that Pasadena never was able to achieve in the time they were a band, and rightfully so. The Uglies are a hard working band; after ten years, countless tours, and six albums plus one live album, they deserve it. The Uglies also shared with us how they don’t fall into the popular trap of playing the same set of songs every single day on tour. They stress the fact that each set is tailored to each city, what they are responding to and what they want to hear. They do this for multiple reasons, the obvious reason is that it’s boring to play the same set day after day, the other reason being that with their dedicated fan base, a lot of fans come to blocks of shows rather than just one date, so the Uglies change up their set so fans don’t see the same set twice.
They’re the type of band that will play the songs that the crowd is screaming. A tell tale sign that a band is a great band is when you go to their show and during the between song lulls, fans all scream different songs that they want to hear. If you go to a show and the fans all scream for the same song it means that that song must be a great song, however, if fans all scream different song then that band must have a vast collection of great songs that goes far beyond their “hits”. The second would be true for the Uglies, their impressive hour and a half long set spread across their multitude of releases, with fans eating up every song. The combination of their genuine offstage demeanor and their musical command on the stage, Bumpin’ Uglies are so much more than your normal reggae band.
Our overall experience at the Bumpin’ Uglies show was nothing short of amazing. With this show being our first taste of the live reggae scene in Buffalo, we were treated to a night of happy, genuine people of all ages and unbelievable musical talent. Also, even though this was our first experience at Buffalo Iron Works, it has already turned into one of our favorite venues. Bumpin’ Uglies never ending tour is probably hitting your city soon, and they will be be back on tour in February 2019 in support of Reel Big Fish, once again returning to Buffalo.