If you were looking for a festival with continuous high energy bands, then Buffalove was it. We were greeted with sunny skies on Thursday afternoon, and a buzz in the air from everyone who couldn’t stop talking about what was to come of that first night. Everyone knew it was going to start with a bang, and they couldn’t have been more accurate.
Buffalo’s own Imperial Brown kicked things off on the Pavilion stage, setting a tone that would carry throughout the weekend. With a sold base of funk, reggae, soul and jam, Imperial Brown got the feet moving, and everyone’s excitement could be focused on one thing: dancing.
As Buffalovers made their way across the field to the main stage, you could feel everyone’s energy level soaring. Hometown heroes Aqueous took the stage at 8pm as the sun was setting and it was go time. They eased into their set, building intensity as the hour went on. We could all tell it was just a tease of what was to come. One by one, Dopapod took the stage, with a seamless changeover that left us continuously dancing for hours. Like Aqueous, they eased into their set, but definitely took things up a notch. Aqueous’ Mike Gantzer was the first to step on stage for the birth of Aquapod. And with a blink of an eye, members of both Aqueous and Dopapod were all on stage, getting into one of the strongest starts any festival could ever hope for. If you were a fan of both of these bands before, then this was the penultimate moment. Trading solos with the biggest of smiles, it just kept going. Even when the rain started to fall, the set from top to bottom was any fans dream. The intensity, the happiness of both bands, and the wide-eyes and looks of amazement from the crowd really started Buffalove off right. From there, it just kept going.
For those whose legs could still hold their bodies up after four and a half straight hours of Aqueous and Dopapod, the late night Woods Stage sets kept the intensity going. A beautiful little stage, set on the hill and covered with trees, was the scene of several sets that would leave people dancing until the wee hours of the morning. Sonder and Spacejunk were first up in the woods, with a segue set that rang through the property. Sonder with their jamtronic, groovy set, then Space Junk with a DJ set that got even the weariest of festival goers back on their feet. The Woods Stage would be the scene of serious talent and body-moving sets. Even with the rain continuing on and off all night, the vibe was nothing short of magical.
Friday morning, we were met with cool weather and constant chatter of what we had all witnessed the night before. The question kept being asked, “How can you top that first night?” But yet again, Buffalove delivered. Imperial Brown started it off again on the Pavilion Stage as the crowds began to wake up, stretch their bodies and get some food. Like every band, their dance-worthy set definitely pulled us out of the fog and back into the light.
Friday afternoon hit, and from there it was on again. Beau Sasser’s Escape Plan, led by current Kung Fu keyboardist Beau Sasser, took the Main Stage and came out swinging with their amped-up, soul crushing version of the Grateful Dead’s “New Speedway Boogie.” Mary Corso’s voice was enough to give anyone the chills, as they cruised through a powerful set. Guitarists Danny Mayer and Justin Henricks had some solos that could leave anyone’s jaw on the floor and drummer Kevin Urvalek was cruising by the time they closed with a cover of “Whipping Post.”
Slip Madigan continued the party, with a rhythmic, groove-oriented set on the Pavillion Stage. Then it was time for Funktional Flow to begin their first of three sets over the next 24 hours.
Flow took Main Stage for a 5pm set that only left fans craving more. Their tight, jam-based songs got the excitement level up once again. With covers like “Atlantic City” by Bruce Springsteen and Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4,” it was very apparent that they can span the genres. Then before you knew it, Albany-based Formula 5 took the Pavilion Stage. For these guys, it was a pre-cursor to their late night segue set with Funktional Flow at the Woods Stage.
Headlining the evening was Kung Fu and Particle, both bringing the hammer down on Saturday evening. Kung Fu, brought the jam-funk to the Main Stage, giving fans a different taste of what they could accomplish with a slightly modified lineup. Sasser soared, with solos that layered and layered, and meshed so well with their new sound. Kung Fu fans were shocked at what the band had become: a funk-heavy jam band. Then it was time for Particle to take the party to the next level. As the disco ball beamed, they played a set that was clearly meant to leave people exhausted from dancing.
Late night Friday was a beast of its own. Funktional Flow came out heavy on the Woods Stage. And if you weren’t keeping an eye on the stage at all times, you wouldn’t have even noticed that one by one, Formula 5 took over. If you had caught their earlier set, this one was completely different in attack. We could all tell they just wanted to get out there and jam as hard as they could. James Woods’ intricate and heavy bass lines and Joe Davis’ cruising guitar licks were almost too much to handle. Before you knew it, Funktional Flow had taken the Woods Stage over yet again. This time, it was one for the books. With a closer like Umphrey’s McGee “All In Time”, we were dancing just as hard as with Kung Fu and Particle, if not harder. The woods were lit up and the buzz around these two bands was heavy. Buffalovers had been treated to one of the most seamless sets of the weekend and all in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Closing out the morning was Buffalo-based Skyepilot, led by powerhouse lead singer Skye Del Re. If you still had the energy, this band kept the party going until the wee hours of 5am. The sun was coming up, and the groove was still ringing through the woods.
With a full weekend of high-energy bands, we were still left with Saturday. From top to bottom, the last day of Buffalove was filled with talent. Even though Skyepilot had just packed up on the Woods Stage, they opened Saturday on the Main Stage. Their strong, fast-paced versions of songs like “Sugaree” was enough to get even the weariest back on their feet for the final day. Buffalove contest winner The Goods hit the Pavilion Stage, with a very apparent reason why they were the winners. With a slightly different flare than the rest of the acts, they added that international/world groove.
The Main Stage on Saturday was filled to the brim with talent, as Blue Rootz and Whiskey Reverb both gave noteworthy sets. Next, it was time for Funktional Flow to give their final of three sets. With a setlist that included heavy originals and crowd-favorite covers like Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns and Money” and to close it all out, Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” Funktional Flow definitely earned their three sets, and stood on par with the headliners.
To close out the Pavilion Stage and Main Stage, Albany favorites Mister F tag teamed sets with Pink Talking Fish. Mister F did a stripped down set to start, with Andrew Chamberlaine playing a banjitar (banjo/guitar combo) for the first set. If you ran across the mud-filled lawn, you could witness the greatness of Pink Talking Fish, with their full, accurate versions of Pink Floyd, The Talking Heads and Phish. With their first set over, Mister F took the Pavilion Stage. The crowd filtered in fast, and before you knew it, hundreds of people were crowded around for Mister F’s final set. The energy coming off them was undeniable, and anyone who wasn’t a fan before, was now. Even with drummer Matt Pickering sick as a dog, they blasted through their set. With almost all originals, they included one cover that got everyone’s feet moving a little faster, Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat.”
Sit-in master Scott Hannay of Mister F wasn’t done there. After finishing packing up, he decided to hang out the rest of the night and see what else he could dive into. Pink Talking Fish topped their first set with versions of Phish’s “Possum” and “Tweezer” that had the crowd in full fun mode. Scott Hannay jumped on for “Crosseyed and Painless”, swapping keyboards back and forth with keyboardist Richard James. It was a spectacle, to say the least.
Late night Saturday drove it all home. Grateful Dead tribute band Workingman’s Dead took the Woods Stage around midnight, giving everyone that comfortable, familiar set of Dead music that left everyone with a smile. High energy, fast tempo Grateful Dead is exactly what we needed after all that was Buffalove. If you weren’t completely out of steam, heavy-hitters After Funk closed out the whole festival in the woods with their horns blaring. Scott Hannay managed to sneak in for another sit-in, adding to the already sonic boom that is After Funk. For those resting at their campsites, there was no way you couldn’t perk up hearing this band wail through the night.
Buffalove came through. Co-founder of Buffalive Productions and Founder of Buffalove Cody Conway clearly had one goal in mind: keep the energy as high as possible. Every single band had heads turning and jaws on the ground. There was never a lull, never a band that just played to fill space. Every minute was dance-worthy. If you missed out this year, we can highly recommend you don’t make that mistake next year. Without any problems or unruly attendees, this festival made its mark at North Fork Music Park in Warsaw, NY. The amount of talent coming out of Upstate New York is only paving the road for more incredible shows. Buffalove, you certainly were lovely.