Who filled the Thursday music voids at Canalside?

Downtown Buffalo still has music on Thursday a few blocks away

Mike Baggerman
July 10, 2019 - 5:12 pm

Canalside Concert Stage June 6, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – Because Canalside eliminated their usual Thursday concert series, the door has opened for another group to take over music in Downtown Buffalo.

Buffalo Place, a not-for-profit that is directly partnered with Canalside, has taken over the reins for Thursday night concerts after Canalside did away with it this year. Their shows “Thursday & Main” run each Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. The free shows are at Fountain Plaza.

“We thought we could complement (Canalside concerts),” Buffalo Place Executive Director Michael Schmand told WBEN. “There’s nothing like going out and listening to great music in any downtown. We want after work, people coming out of M&T Bank and out of city office buildings…a chance to stay in Downtown Buffalo. What way to do that? Have some music and some beverages.”

Canalside this year has three shows scheduled on Thursday, with the first on July 18 followed by July 25 and August 1. The group brought in notable rapper TI last Saturday and are scheduled to have Incubus, Nelly, Social Distortion, Flogging Molly, and Nas, all on days that are not Thursday.

“Our event is over at 8 p.m.” Schmand said. “Canalside usually doesn’t start gearing up until 8 p.m. The train station is right there and it’s only three stations away. You can still on a Thursday night start at fountain plaza and continue down to Canalside and have a whole night of entertainment in Downtown Buffalo.”

Canalside’s music scene may not last forever though. Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation President Steve Ranalli told WBEN in June that major concerts at Canalside could come to an end once the waterfront area finishes with its development.

“I think overall the concert series will continue to evolve over the next few years,” he told A New Morning. “We’ve built a beautiful 3 ½ acre event lawn on the Outer Harbor which we think is a good option for large-scale concerts in the future.”

Ranalli said that as long as there is lawn space, they can still put on shows. A restored carousel will take the spot of the current stage once work on it is finished.

There is no shortage of shows in Western New York. Between shows at Artpark each Tuesday, live music at Larkin Square each Wednesday, plus tunes at Thursday at Fountain Plaza, there are plenty of options to choose from.

“I don’t think there’s an (oversaturation of music),” Schmand said. “Music is a universal language. People love to listen to music. If you’re driving on the street, more than likely you’re listening to music or a good talk show…Music attracts people. We have such a short summer in Western New York. From Memorial Day to Labor Day is 15 weeks…You have to cram it in and people have options here.”

But as a promotor, Schmand said that he can remember when Buffalo Place was one of the only promoters in town.

“Concert promoting is not as easy as people think,” Star 102.5 and Kiss 98.5 Program Director Sue O’Neill said. “Some of these people will fall away that are trying to do (multiple shows). We have some great venues that have some great history like KeyBank Center, Darien Lake, and Canalside. Then you have Town Ballroom and places that have history. Then you have people who are popping up elsewhere trying to get footing and gain some ground.”

O’Neill said there is definitely an oversaturation of music but it only causes problems for promoters or if you want to see multiple artists that are performing the same night.

Alternative Buffalo 107.7 Program Director Nik Rivers said he doesn’t think there’s an oversaturation because there’s still an appetite of all the music.  

“(Buffalo) loves their music and their entertainment and they really love their summer,” Rivers said. “I think the city and these organizers are trying to tap into that.”

“I see the music scene as getting nothing but stronger,” Schmand said. “I see more younger people downtown. You have to believe younger people will be attracted to the music and it will be nothing but an uptick.”

Thursday & Main’s concert tonight will feature Funktional Flow.

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