There is something magical about Buffalove Music Festival, which took place on June 19-21 in Silver Creek, NY at the Willow Creek Winery. The festival nearly doubled in size in its second year and the venue itself was absolutely breathtaking. Willow Creek Winery will be the concert destination in years to come and Cody Conway, the man behind Buffalove Music Festival, hopes to make it one of the premier destinations for concert goers all over Western New York. The venue boasted two stages, complete with great lighting and superior sound, while the grounds had vending and concessions for anyone looking. The area was also conveniently small, making it very easy to get around. Ticket holders were able to camp and park at no extra cost, which you don’t see at any festival, making the experience very affordable. Over the course of three days, there were over twenty bands, so there was little time to sleep and recover; however, it provided a perfect showcase of bands from all over New York as well as neighboring states.
The festival started off on Thursday with Buffalo’s Intrepid Travelers and Slip Madigan on the main stage. The Little Mountain Band played in-between the two, while Lazlo Hollyfeld went on after. Jimkata, who calls Ithaca home, headlined Thursday night and treated the early festival crowd to a great night of music. Jimkata continues to make a name for themselves out in the Buffalo area as they amazed and wowed concert goers in their first Buffalove appearance. They will continue to impress the Western New York region when they take the stage tonight at The Great Blue Heron Music Festival in Sherman, NY. Slip Madigan came back out for the late night faithful with a set on the side stage for anyone looking to party through the end of the night.
Friday brought out the majority of the crowd, and with fans filtering in throughout the day from their busy work weeks, the weekend really looked to pick up some steam. One of the neat things about this festival is the small size and family-like vibe that it produces. All of the bands, workers, and fans all seem to know one another and it created such a different experience than those commercial-size festivals. The music began promptly at twelve o’clock with Red Horning Project and Lancaster, NY’s Wonder Crayon on the main stage, and The Grace Stumberg Band between the two slots on the side stage. Formula 5, an Albany-based band, really impressed a lot of folks, and rightfully so, combining jazz, funk and jamming. It was easy to see how many new fans they converted with lots of chatter around the camp sites about them, especially their late night split session with Funktional Flow. Their cover of moe.’s “Happy Hour Hero” was a great set closer and perfectly placed in Buffalove’s happy hour slot.
Groove Force and Smackdab followed Formula 5 on the main stage, while Broccoli Samurai and Brown Sugar played between breaks, leading up to what a lot of people were waiting for, headliners Funktional Flow. Smackdab is such a fun group, very uplifting and they provided the perfect setup to the evening. Combining soul and funk to create just a blazing good time, they really are what festivals are all about. Broccoli Samurai, who call Cleveland, Ohio home, set it off on the side stage, making a strong case for the main stage next year. The band is influenced by such bands as Lotus, The Disco Biscuits, and STS9 and produces a live electronica show that got everyone talking throughout the festival.
Funktional Flow has grown so much in the last few years and is truly making a name for themselves as of late. They have been relentlessly touring for the past few years and their playing and following is proof of that hard work. Funktional Flow consists of Ben Whelan (bass), Jeffrey Kuebler (guitar), Mike Szczepanik (guitar) and Jim Edgar (drums). Flow provides a funk driven jam that feeds off of the energy on stage as well as in the crowd. The rhythm section of Ben Whalen and Jim Edgar are the real heartbeat of the group, while Szczepanik and Kuebler bridge everything together with their exceptional guitar work. Busting out fan favorite “Mulligans” was a real treat and its jam rivals some of the best of the scene. Funktional Flow had some nice surprises as well when they played Umphrey’s McGee’s “Hajimemashite”, with Kuebler leading vocals that were spot on. Even with that hard-to-follow combo, the band surpassed everything when they closed with Trey Anastasio Band’s “Push on Til’ the Day”, complete with horns and fireworks and a truly amazing solo by Szczepanik. Funktional Flow put on such a good show that they really set the bar high for Aqueous who would be headlining the festival the following night. Flow took a much deserved break before their late side stage set with Formula 5. Those who managed to stay up were treated to a special night.
Funktional Flow Set List: Moonlight, Improv, Edge of Time, Animals, Ambush, What Will Be Will Be, Bumblin, Sevenate, Runaway>Bring You Down>Runaway, Mulligans, Hajimemashite*, Push on Til’ the Day^
*Umphrey’s McGee cover
^Trey Anastasio Band cover
Friday Photo Gallery:
With everything that already happened, it was crazy to think there would be another day packed with great music and great vibes. Saturday started right at twelve o’clock with Blue Roots, followed by Relics on the side stage. Relics, Western New York’s tribute to the music of Pink Floyd, played the entire Animals album and filled the side stage tent with anyone that was up early enough. The band is most known in the area for being a side project of Buffalo News music critic, Jeff Miers. He did a great job recreating the Roger Waters role, with the band as a whole performing flawlessly. It was a great start to the day and got everyone’s blood flowing.
Mister F played on the main stage in the dinner slot and anyone grabbing some eats from the various vendors got a pretty good show. Mister F is an Albany-based band that is tightly run, featuring members of Timbre Coup and Capital Zen. The group is quickly becoming a must see act and has been gaining some solid steam this year. Playing several festivals this summer and coming off their debut album, The F Stands Four, the sky is the limit for these guys.
Headlining the night, and such a big part of the Buffalo music scene, was none other than Aqueous. The band has been playing nonstop for sometime now since they graduated from North Tonawanda. Their playing has evolved into something quite magical and their future looks strongest of all the bands from this festival. The group who consists of Mike Gantzer (guitar), David Loss (guitar), Evan McPhaden (bass) and Nick Sonricker (drums) is really something to be proud of for anyone who is from the area. The band combines great music with a stage presence that just oozes energy all over the place. It’s a real joy to have watched these guys grow up from when they started out. Gantzer and Loss have such a control over their respected guitars and pack a one-two punch on any given song.
McPhaden may hang back a bit in the background with drummer Sonricker, but they’re an integral part of what makes this band so successful. “They’re Calling For Ya” started out the opening set, which provided a perfect build up to the evening, followed by “King For a Day” and “Mosquito Valley Part I>Marty>Complex Part II”. AQ dipping into the covers,as they usually do, with the Smashing Pumpkins “Today “, followed by an impressive run of “Timmy’s Blades>Cellino> Triangle”. “Cellino” was one of the biggest bustouts with the song not being played in 60 shows, according to UnclePhils’sBlog. Loss’s intro on “Triangle” setup a back and forth musical volley with guitar-mate Gantzer. Sonricker kept them both in check all night though with his tight percussive work.
A short set break for the band brought out DJ Jeff The Repeater, and armed with just a Macbook and his beats, he entertained the crowd with some techno-infused dance music.
Aqueous resumed their night with “Willy is 40>20/20>Warren in the Window” with a tease of Phish’s “Meatstick”. Aqueous debuted a first time David Bowie cover in “Lets Dance” before a solid set ending run that included “Kitty Chaser (Explosions)>Staring into the Sun>Kitty Chaser (Explosions)>Star Spangled Banner”, finishing with fireworks overhead that produced a very memorable moment. One thing that Aqueous does well is treading in unknown waters. Even with cover’s that most bands couldn’t pull off, they still find a way to make a song their own. The encore was no different. The band ended the night with R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly>Mice>I Believe I Can Fly”.
Aqueous Set List –
Set 1: They’re Calling For You, King for a Day, Mosquito Valley Part I>Marty>Complex Part II, Today*>Timmy’s Blades>Cellino>Triangle
Set 2: Willy is 40>20/20>Warren in the Window, The Village Dog and Pony Show>Eon Don, Lets Dance^, Kitty Chaser (Explosions)>Staring in to the Sun>Kitty Chaser (Explosions)>Star Spangled Banner
Encore: I Believe I Can Fly#>Mice>I Believe I Can Fly#
*Smashing Pumpkins cover
^David Bowie cover
#R. Kelly cover
All in all, Buffalove is an incredible festival that is only going to grow year after year. I think Cody Conway and his vision for what it’s going to become is a true testament to what he is as a person. Aqueous’ encore was more of a tribute to that as well with the belief that this festival will continue to fly.