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Buffalo Tom

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine

For many years, I spent Memorial Day weekend with my best friend in NYC. She’s moved to the suburbs in New Jersey and has a family now, so our annual MDW tradition has ended. This year, I looked forward to some downtime at home instead of a big weekend away. I went to Bowdoin’s Commencement and marched in the alumni parade, visited the farmers’ market, and ventured down to Portland to meet up with Bob for an early dinner at Empire. He insisted we meet at 5:30 for dinner, because he was confident there would be a line at Port City Music Hall for the Buffalo Tom show and wanted to be there by 7–when doors opened. I told him his worries were unnecessary, but there was a short line of fans outside when we arrived at 6:50. Bob loved it. We were front and center for a solid 40 minutes before really anyone else arrived for the show, though (Bob won the battle, but I won the war on our bet).

Times Square. Memorial Day weekend 2010

Bob vouched for Buffalo Tom, has seen them a lot live, and promised they’d be “smart and funny” in person, so I decided to join him for the show. Probably like many other women in their 30s, Buffalo Tom came onto my radar back in 1994, when I was a freshman in high school and watched My So-Called Life religiously. There’s an entire episode that revolves around Angela and Rayanne acquiring fake IDs to sneak into a club to see Buffalo Tom play because Angela’s love interest, Jordan Catalano, was going to be there. Buffalo Tom performed in the club in the episode, and surely expanded their listening audience to include lots more teenage girls than just me. I bought Buffalo Tom’s 1993 album, Big Red Letter Day, after the episode aired, and listened to “Late At Night” on repeat.

Buffalo Tom formed in 1986 when guitarist Bill Janovitz, bassist Chris Colburn, and drummer Tom Maginnis attended U Mass Amherst, and they are currently touring to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their 1992 album, Let Me Come Over. They don’t have an opening act, play a full set of a mix of their songs, and then play the entire album after an intermission. Since I’ve never heard that album and didn’t fall in love with them live, I didn’t feel bad about leaving after the first set.

They played all of my favorites from Big Red Letter Day–“Late At Night,” “Sodajerk,” “I’m Allowed,” and “Tree House” right at the beginning of their first set. I was happy to hear these songs that reminded me of a formative time in my life in person from the front row. Bill Janovitz chatted with the crowd a bit, mostly to make fun of his own age and say how their fans must already be tired like them from all the standing, but he also had some adorable rock guitar antics. They played an impressive total of 27 songs that night, including a quick bit of “Whipping Post” by the Allman Brothers as a tribute to Greg Allman, who’d passed away earlier in the day.

I’m a little behind in blogging because my last remaining elderly kitty (sweet Yeltsin) passed away recently, but Bob texted me this today, fully knowing that I didn’t love Buffalo Tom live:

RIP, Yeltsin kitty

“Buffalo Tom is playing Royale on September 10! I’ll pick you up at NOON. There will be a line!”

xo,

bree

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Regina Spektor

Thursday, March 9, 2017

State Theatre, Portland, Maine

This night gets a mixed review, but it’s not Regina’s fault. I met up with my concert friend Bob (six years as concert buddies and going strong!) at Empire for dinner, but couldn’t find parking after a long search and ended up late to dinner, so succumbed to paying $16 in a nearby parking lot (ugh). My fortune cookie had no fortune, which concerned me. Bob and I arrived at State Theatre before doors opened to stake out a good spot for my first-ever Regina Spektor show. We ended up third row center, in a pocket of real Regina fans. It turns out, we were lucky to be exactly where we ended up, because there were a lot of disrespectful people in the crowd.

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Getting a fortune cookie without a fortune kind of freaked me out.

There was no show opener, and we were told Regina was going on right at 8 PM. She went on a little after 8:30 instead, and people were restless and some had time to get drunk at the bar by then. It really negatively affected the show experience. Regina was a delight–her vocals and piano were spot on, her audience interaction on point, and she was humble and adorable. At one point, she sweetly told us that “every time you guys start clapping, I turn around to see who’s behind me.” She joked that she shouldn’t have worn jeans because “Portland is a delicious city” and she’d overindulged. Sadly, the crowd was a NIGHTMARE. Drunk, loud people talked over her the entire night. The interruptions were so frequent and loud that Regina stopped mid song to ask very politely for people to talk a bit quieter because it was hard for her to concentrate with all the noise. Have I ever witnessed a performer ask a crowd to be quiet because they were being so loud? I don’t think so. It was so sad. She handled it like a champ, but it persisted. I talked to other friends who were at the show later, and we agreed that a seated show for a singer-songwriter and her piano would probably have created a better listening environment than the sold out standing show we attended.

Regina forgot the lyrics to her last song, “Us,” but the crowd helped her find her way (the ones who were actually listening, that is). She played a generous four song encore, including “Fidelity” and “Samson, which were thrilling to hear live for the first time. This should have been a great show. Regina was engaging, sweet, and talented, but the crowd was AWFUL. Good luck booking her in Portland again! Concert etiquette tip–don’t be the drunk person yelling all through a show–it makes you a jerk!

My friend Aimsel Ponti’s take on the night.

xo,

bree

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