Author Archives: poczcicj17
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.
Counterparts’s highly anticipated Private Room tour made its stop in Buffalo, at the newest venue in the city, The Rec Room. This tour was in support of Counterparts’s new EP, Private Room, released on September 7, 2018. Private Room is a short three song ep, timing in at a little under 7 minutes, made up of leftover songs from their 2017 full length release You’re Not You Anymore. This tour focused on exactly what it says, “Private Rooms”; smaller venues to bring all the fan up close and personal, for an intense no-barricade experience, the way Counterparts are truly meant to be experienced. The support for this tour was an interesting selection of bands that branched between multiple genres. Counterparts vocalist, Brendan Murphy, touched on this subject during their set, by saying how this somewhat odd selection of bands was done so they could appeal to a wide variety of people, an element the bill’s of the local shows the band used to attend. Instead of sticking with a strict hardcore lineup, they brought in “emo” band, Have Mercy, and Being As An Ocean, a somewhat melodic post-hardcore band. Personally, I thought this provided for a great concert experience because it brought all my favorite genres of music and wrapped them into one convenient package.
The first band of the evening was Varials (Philadelphia, PA) who brought a truly unique hardcore sound to the show. Varials is definitely not your generic hardcore band, by having a combination pure aggression (like in Knocked Loose), strong deep screams from lead vocalist Travis Tabron, and their unique rhythms, Varials has found a recipe for success. This sound can be found on their recent release Pain Again (2017) the first release on their new label Fearless Records. I was able to see Varials a few months ago when they were on tour with Gideon, and again they brought the same raw energy that attracted me to them in the first place. Varials is still a newer band in the industry, however, their live shows have something special that will take them very far.
Up next was, as I would describe as the “oddball” of the evening, Have Mercy, the Baltimore emo rock band. Even though at first glance Have Mercy might have seemed a little out of place on this bill, I thought they played a great set that complemented the rest of the bands very well. Have Mercy is one of those bands that is not hard to like, with frontman Brian Swindle’s emotional raw vocals, and guitar work that properly drives the songs, Have Mercy has it all. The Buffalo fans were also treated to an acoustic performance of a song off Have Mercy’s upcoming album (release date not set). This was my third time seeing Have Mercy live and what I have determined is that every tour Brian sings each song just a little bit different, creating for a truly unique live performance each time you see them.
The third band of the evening was Being As An Ocean, who played a set like I have never seen before. I was a little nervous as to how they would convey their new sound that can be found on their latest album Waiting for Morning to Come, but BAAO turned their album into a live experience that I will never forget. Between their lighting theatricals and frontman Joel Quartuccio spending as much time in the crowd as he did on the stage during their hour long set, BAAO has a truly unique live experience. When I saw BAAO on their most recent run on the Vans Warped Tour, I honestly thought their set was a little lackluster, and was almost disappointed. However, after seeing them in a smaller venue where I was able to properly get the full BAAO experience, I take back everything that I said before. The true emotion and passion that they put into their music is evident in their performance. From Quartuccio dancing with the audience during the interludes to McGough’s captivating, melodic vocals, it is clear this newest album was built to give a live experience like no other. Their set focused on their latest release but they didn’t forget to please the fans by branching back to their earlier releases with a set that flowed effortlessly from song to song. As I have now learned, when Being as an Ocean plays live they do not just play a set, they play a show.
Finally, the headliners of the evening, Counterparts, would close out the music for the evening on a very high note. Starting off with “Monument” the first track off their newest EP Private Room, and expanding all the way to songs off their 2011 release The Current Will Carry Us, Counterparts played a career spanning set to the packed venue full of energetic fans. This show could easily have taken place at other larger venues in Buffalo such as The Town Ballroom, however, that would have defeated the purpose of the tour. The Private Room tour, brought fans of a variety of music, into the same small space to all experience a wild evening together. From stage diving to insane moshing, The Rec Room is, without a doubt, the place to see a metal show. The Rec Room allows artists like Counterparts to really show the power of music, by being able to bring people of all types into the same place, to share the one thing we all have in common, our love for music. This tour felt like a local show but with your favorite artists. Playing all of their shows in smaller venues with a mixed bill isn’t something you often see with bigger artists in the scene, but at the end of the day, music is what brings us together. No matter who the person is standing next to you in a show, we are all united by our love for music, and during that time we are all together, and even after we leave, we are all a family. This is a feeling I rarely get at bigger shows, but the Private Room Tour was definitely designed for the fans and it was definitely appreciated by everyone.
Neck Deep: The Peace and The Panic tour Part II
Lineup: WSTR, Stand Atlantic, Trophy Eyes, Neck Deep
Words and Photos by: Chandler Poczciwinski
Up first, with their ripping guitar riffs to their absolute command of the crowd, WSTR, one of the most impressive opening acts that I have seen in a long time. On this tour, WSTR brought a whole new batch of songs from their superb sophomore album Identity Crisis that was recently released on August 31, 2018 . What surprised me the most about WSTR was their stage presence, they went on that stage and played as if they were the headlining band. Being an opening act is a difficult task because the crowd isn’t warmed up yet and some fans haven’t even shown up. However, WSTR took the challenge of being the opening band, stomped it into the ground, then played a very exciting set. This effort would not go unnoticed as fans responded very positively to the the band and I am excited as to where this band is going to find themselves next.
Up second was Stand Atlantic the female fronted Australian band that is still anticipating the release of their debut full length album, really showed Buffalo what they had to offer. Lead singer, Bonnie Fraser, left nothing out, between her stunning clean vocals to her solid screams, I see a lot of promise with this band. Stand Atlantic was a perfect fit on this bill, and I really enjoyed seeing a female fronted band kill because it is not something you see regularly in this normally male dominated scene. The crowd must have felt the same way that I did because they had their eyes glued to the stage from the first song to the last. Stand Atlantic also shared with the crowd their love of yelling random American words into the mic because no matter what, everyone always screams. Finally, Stand Atlantic would treat the crowd by playing their newly released song Lavender Bones that I hope to be able to hear on an upcoming full album.
Next up, Trophy Eyes, coming off a new album that displays a new side of their sound; their latest release,The American Dream, is less aggressive than their past material. However, that by no means suggests that their shows became any less energetic. With full control over the energy of the crowd, front man, John Floreani, moved from side to side, giving every dedicated fan in the audience the attention they deserve. He even acknowledged every crowd surfer that launched over the barricade by running over to great them as they left the photo pit. Their set, consisting of both old and new material was very dynamically pleasing. From songs such as “You Can Count on Me” that showcase the sound of the new album, to some of their classic songs such as “Heaven Sent” which show the aggression that Trophy Eyes is known for. They had the crowd on the tips of their fingers for the entirety of the set, and Floreani looked like he was having a good time. That might not seem like a huge deal, but to be in the crowd and have the band look unhappy is a very terrible feeling; especially when you feel as strongly about your scene as I do. Trophy Eyes definitely did not miss the high standards that I had for them going into the show, and I hope to be able to catch them on their upcoming tour date in Buffalo on December 4th at our newest venue, The Rec Room.
The lights dimmed as the final act of the evening, Neck Deep, got ready to take the stage. As each member began to get into place on stage, the excited screams from the crowd grew exponentially. Then in a split second, the lights exploded and Neck Deep went into their first song of the evening “Motion Sickness” off their newest album The Peace and The Panic. It is always amazing to see how bands you have listened to since they first began, grow from just taking the stage to play a set, to providing a concert experience that their fans will never forget. I still remember when Neck Deep put out their first album Rain In July (2012) and completely changed the face of pop-punk forever. They grew from a band that went city to city in a smelly van, to putting on a face melting musical, lighting, and special effects extravaganza. This change is exactly what Neck Deep wanted to capture during their Peace and The Panic tour. Prior to hitting the road, Neck Deep put out a survey for fans to choose what songs they wanted to hear, during the show ND said how responses on that survey went from choosing a variety of songs from every album, to having the same song played 20 times in a row. Neck Deep chose to please the majority of their fan base by playing a set that stretched from songs on their first release to their recent hits off their latest album. This provided for an exciting set that took fans from moshing in the pit, to shedding a few tears. The Buffalo crowd was even lucky enough to help ND guitarist Matt West celebrate his 27th birthday by singing him Happy Birthday. Neck Deep was even treated to a Buffalo classic as the infamous Town Ballroom disco ball lowered before they headed into their final song “In Bloom”. Right now, Neck Deep is at the top of their game, and they have no intention of looking down.