Despite their stylistic differences, Buffalo-based bands Well Worn Boot and Mr. Boneless are both independently known for their high-energy rock-and-roll shows. If you put the two on a bill together in their hometown, you’re lucky if the building is intact afterwards. Luckily, Central Park Grill survived the night on Friday, February 7th, when both bands took the stage to a packed room for good-natured mayhem and truly original music. In addition to sharing Buffalo as their home turf, Boneless and Boot both started out in nearby Fredonia, New York, making the line-up a reunion of sorts. Before either band took stage the downstairs bar began to fill in, with new and old friends catching up over (numerous) drinks, waiting for the night of music to begin.
Mr. Boneless opened up the show at about 10:30 PM, with a quintessential up-tempo set that featured gritty vocals over steady rock licks played with a modern twinge. The retro/modern dichotomy is sort of a recurring theme for the band, both in terms of musicality and stage presence. Musically, Boneless has a very apparent blues influence, but their tempos often lend themselves more to straight rock or punk, with transitions that you would find in 90’s alternative. I often hear a influences of Modest Mouse, Maps & Atlases and some “X” factor that varies between songs. A major highlight of this band is their dynamics, alongside guitar tones that range nicely between a clean vintage sound and over-driven fuzz. Boneless definitely favors song structure over jamming, however, they are not afraid to let a guitar solo rip or pound out a deep riff for a few extra bars. By the end of the set Central Park Grill was hot – both figuratively and literally – and ready to go.
Well Worn Boot took the stage to a full room around midnight, opening with crashes of noise that gave stragglers at the bar one last heads-up before appropriately launching off with “Certified Party Girl”. According to flutist/vocalist/front man, The Plainsman, this was the only calculated move of the night, acknowledging proudly, “After that we were basically just picking out of a hat.” Known for their stage theatrics, Friday night was no different, with all characters engaging in wandering stories, audience participation and off-the-cuff antics. This appetite for providing undeniable entertainment, regardless of form (or intentional lack there of) is what makes Boot so endearing; they provide the same high-level of energy and passion whether they are playing a college town dive-bar or opening for GWAR at Buffalo’s Town Ballroom. This, paired with the fact that no two shows are the same makes for a concert experience like no other- – a responsibility that Plainsman does not take lightly. “Playing in Buffalo is no joke”, he explained, “You ever met a Bills fan? These people can take a hit, man. You have to notify them that they just lost, and they probably still won’t believe. That’s dedication. We have fans who have been to around fifty of our shows…We’re like Phish, but with less jamming.”
Favorites of the night included classics such as straight-up-rocking “Ballad of Billy Klubb” (imagine 13th Floor Elevators and Jethro Tull teamed up, with Tom Waits lyrics sung in Spin Doctors fashion); “Drunk on The Highway”, a steady psych-rock inspired tale featuring alien abductions and sex with space chicks, and fan-favorite rarity, “Chautauqua County” which is ultimately a punk rock ode to the region that pushed audience members to their peak unruliness. The set also included a number of new songs from Boot’s upcoming comic/EP Boot in Space, which is set to release on April 19th. And if that’s not enough, Boot is in the process of taking submissions for their “Wild Wild Fest” which will take pace at the end of August in Silver Creek. That said, Boot is first and foremost concerned with providing a quality live performance and throwing a solid party for fans old and new. As The Plainsman summarized Friday night, “We were just happy to have so many friends in attendance. Every show is huge for us. I’ve been acting like I’m the biggest dude in America for like four years now.”