Author: Ashley DePasqaule
Buffalo is home to so many fantastic venues and hosts an endless, revolving stream of incredible artists all year long. When we had the pleasure of hosting Keller Williams at one of the best venues in Buffalo we knew we would be in for a treat.
Keller Williams is a long time staple in the jam band scene playing as a solo artist and with several other projects ranging from funk to blue grass. His high energy shows make up for in talent, creativity, and a magnetic, eternal, youthful jubilance what they lack in lights and lasers. Fans come out to hear the man play, to watch him layer each instrument, to marvel as he deliberately selects each note and nuance. A one man band for the ages, Williams refers to his sound as acoustic dance music, and I’d be hard pressed to describe it any better.
Williams resumed his solo tour in conjunction with the release of his 20th album Vape, with a much anticipated stop in Buffalo on what felt like the first sunny day this side of the millennium. He took to the stage to a sold out crowd at the Tralf Music Hall shortly after nine o’clock on a Friday night. Located in the heart of Buffalo’s theater district The Tralf is a gem of a venue, occupying the second floor, perched above a night club, and residing next to the historic Shea’s Performing Arts Center. When stepping outside at set break the juxtaposition offered by its locale is unmatched. Men in tuxedos escorting women in fine gowns through clouds of smoke and profanity, punctuated by the occasional drag queen or panhandler, make for a scene that’s as hard to replicate as it is easy to love.
Unfortunately, not everyone was feeling the love. The beefed up security at the Tralf resulted in several attendees being ejected from the capacity event. The limited wiggle room and constant chatter of the well liberated crowd made for a first set that was at times a challenge to enjoy. Williams persevered however and did not delay acknowledging the importance of the date of his performance here in Buffalo, rolling out a first set full of tributes to 4/20 including covers of Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It” and, Buffalo’s own, Rick James’ “Mary Jane”. He also delivered a soul soothing Tom Petty medley alongside several original tracks.
The second set saw a thinned out crowd and significantly less noise. Williams delivered some long time favorites like “Kiwi and the Apricot”, “Stupid Questions”, and a clever and entertaining “Super Hot Girl”- a truly comedic lyrical romp with Keller providing the perfect soundtrack. The highlight of the second set came as the crowd was expecting a cover of “Stairway to Heaven” and instead received a much welcome “All Along the Watchtower”. Williams dubbing the mashup “Stairway To Watchtower” to cheering fans. Keller Williams closed out his 4/20 party at the Tralf with an important reminder to “Celebrate Your Youth” before it’s too late.