There is always plenty of free music in Buffalo during the summer. They have their famous “Thursday at the Square” concerts which are a hot spot from people from all over, not just Buffalo, to come downtown, get wasted out of their minds while enjoying some free music. There seems to be new festivals popping up all the time in Buffalo and the surrounding areas. Sure, it’s a great thing. I like being outside and I like music, especially if it is free.
The first time I saw Sloan was at one of these fests, so it only seemed fitting that I continue the tradition. This show was part of North Tonawanda’s (suburb of Buffalo) apparently annual Gateway Park Concert Series. Sloan always plays things like this here in Buffalo, which I think kind of cheapens them a little bit, but it certainly opens them up to more people than would come and see them at a club south of the 49th parallel. I just get really territorial about bands that I love, they have never played a bad show that I have seen (except for their Grey Cup pre-game show which was not so good, redeeming quality in that I met my girlfriend there. They got lucky that time). The show this time around was part of the beginning of their tour for their 9th studio release, “Parallel Play”.
The album is getting a good amount of reviews, and opinion on it is pretty polarized. I, personally, love the album and listen to it often, and that is all that matters to me. The show was interesting, to say the least. All of my complaints with it don’t have anything to do with Sloan, but rather the organizers of it. The website says that the show starts at 5:30 and there was no mention of an opening act. I figured that there would be one, which is no big deal. One opener and then Sloan takes the stage around maybe 7:30, or 8 pm at the latest. It’s a festival type thing and on a weekend and there were no other bands being promoted. It turned out that at 5:30 the first boring local band of 3 (THREE!) for the evening began. In between each of these bands was “giveaways” and stupid radio guy promotion type banter. Sloan did not take the stage until 9 pm, which meant that I had been standing outside waiting for 3 and a half hours before the band that I came to see even took the stage, at which point the skies began to look rather grey.
Sloan played a great set, going through material from the new album as well as tried and true material from their past albums. The show was solid, featuring songs by each of the members. The disappointing fact was that, after all the standing and waiting the weather began to turn not long after they took the stage, and sure enough, just past the halfway point in their set, the skies opened up and it started pouring. Bassist Chris Murphy informed us that they would be going on and everyone was pleased, though the rain proceeded to get worse and after a little over an hour they left the stage.
They returned briefly for a hurried 3 song encore and then the show was over. I can not complain about their performance, it seemed that they were all pretty “on” that night, and had a pretty good mix, which is unusual for outdoor shows. I always love seeing Sloan, and I enjoy their music a great deal, I will certainly go out of my way to see them again. I would much rather see them in Toronto anyway.
I did take quite a bit of video at the show, but I have been quite slow in getting them up to my youtube page. I will do a quick post when I finally do up them. For now, here is a picture of the crowd at the show, taken by touring keyboardist Gregory MacDonald.