Our Staff Picks- Top 10 Concerts of 2013

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Staff Select Their Top 10
2013 Year In Review

Joseph Suto

#10-Hinder
The Rapids Theatre
Niagara Falls, NY
February 23

Who would have known that this show would turn out to be one of vocalist Austin Winkler’s last with the band? About a month later he went into rehab and by year’s end it was announced the band had parted ways with their singer. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out for Hinder going forward.

#9-Queensryche
Turning Stone Casino
Verona, NY
June 5

The show featured the return of bassist Rudy Sarzo as he was out of the country. I was amazed to hear how fresh Operation: Mindcrime sounded without Rockenfield, Wilton and Jackson playing. Singer Tate sounded in fine form on this particular evening. The added bonus of Sass Jordan as Sister Mary was a treat as well.

#8-Frankie Valli
Shea’s Performing Arts Center
Buffalo, NY
November 1

Valli continues to perform and takes his fans back to a time when everything was about the music and not an image. From Grease to his career with The Four Seasons, Valli gave his fans the entire spectrum of his glorious career including the seven number one singles to his credit.

#7-Sail Rock
Chautauqua Institute
Chautauqua, NY
July 5

I do not think there was a set list performed by anyone where everyone in the crowd knew every single song. The show featured nothing but hits that dominated the airwaves in the 70s. John Ford Coley, Gary Wright, Firefall, Player along with Orleans who served as the house band played all the songs one would expect to hear. Christopher Cross capped the whole show off with his collection of gems such as “Sailing,” “Never Be The Same” and of course the song that started it all for him “Ride Like The Wind.”

#6-Pearl Jam
First Niagara Center
Buffalo, NY
October 12

Pearl Jam played Buffalo for the third time over the last ten years. Each show stands out on its own and this one was no exception. Although the show was light on hits and heavier on the band’s latest release Lightning Bolt, “Alive” and “Even Flow” had to be the most lively performances I ever seen from this band.

#5-REO Speedwagon
Artpark
Lewiston, NY
June 18

It had been a few years since REO Speedwagon rolled into western New York as a full band. Singer Kevin Cronin and guitarist Dave Amato only did play at a Starry Night in The Garden a few years back. The band seemed to be on fire as they dug into their old catalog and dug out such gems as “Golden Country” and “Son Of A Poor Man.”

#4-Bad Company
Artpark
Lewiston, NY
July 16

What can you say about Paul Rodgers? The man sounds unbelievable and the band is cooking. The best show at Artpark this past summer hands down.

#3-Whitesnake
Palace Theatre
Greensburg, PA
July 29

After taking 2012 off, David Coverdale brought his amazing band back to do a run in the states and the band was on fire. The twin guitar duo of Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach led the way and having Mr. Tommy Aldridge back behind the kit also was a treat.

#2-Styx
Covelli Centre
Youngstown, OH
October 17

I have never seen the band better. Lawrence Gowan seemed even more on his game than in the past as the band whipped out classics like “Light Up,” “I’m Ok,” and “Crystal Ball,” much to the delight of the diehards in attendance.

#1-Sammy Hagar
Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
Toronto, Ontario
August 27

The Molson Amphitheatre came alive to the “Four Decades Of Rock” Tour that touched down innocently enough on a soggy night in Toronto. Kicking of the affair with some old Montrose, Sammy hit all areas of his career for the most part and brought out special guest Michael Anthony during the Van Halen segment. All areas of his solo career were also featured as he played Hagar standards “There’s Only One Way To Rock,” “Eagles Fly” and “I’ll Fall In Love Again.” Out of all the shows we saw the perfect concert even on a not so perfect summer night.
 

Robert Winans

12/24/13

As we all sit down to reflect upon the Holidays and the impending New Year, we should take a moment of reverence out of our daily lives, before the year begins anew with new resolutions, and be thankful for the awesome rock that hit us for the last twelve months. I think I have a list of the best concerts that I saw in 2013, and hopeful 2014 can be just as brutal.

 

#10-Gwar
Town Ballroom
Buffalo, NY
August 8

Now not everybody digs on Dave Brockie and the intergalactic misfits that comprise Gwar, but after doing this for the latter part of a few decades, these guys can still play hard and incite mass hysteria. Saw them twice this year, and both shows were absolutely awesome, how could you not just love it? The sea of people surging together in the slave pit sloshing fake blood from their eyes as the gallons keep on coming. They played a great set, over the top antics, destroying the effigies of celebrities, with intense power chord punk riffs and killer vocals.

#9-Sully Erna
Bears Den
Niagara Falls, NY
April 13

Plainly, it’s nothing but phenomenal acoustics and great musicianship. I had the pleasure of seeing him when he played The Bears Den in Niagara Falls. The setting was the most intimate, and the crowd was something eager desperately trying to keep in their seats. Playing a combination of solo work as well as Godsmack tunes it was great musically, and there was just the most amazing humanity within him. He got very down to earth with the audience, and for being a rock star, the man was calm and collected speaking to the audience. Up close and personal.

#8-Device
The Rapids Theatre
Niagara Falls, NY
May 14

David Draiman is widely known for his work fronting for longtime fan favorites Disturbed. However, Device which is also fronted by Draiman is also getting a ton of heat when they went out touring with Nonpoint and Gemini Syndrome. Draiman was, in my opinion, much more engaged then when Ive seen him with his more synonymous band Disturbed hitting power notes in a register he wouldn’t go near in Disturbed. The music is edgy with a lot of great power ballads including a Lite Ford and Ozzy Osborne cover of “If I close My Eyes Forever.” I notoriously hate cover songs, but this one blew me away seeing it live.

#7-Trivium/Devil Driver
Town Ballroom
Buffalo, NY
December 4

A co-headlining fusion of brutal as the legendary Devil Driver played with Metalcore Thrash champions Trivium. Personally, I thought Devil Driver really beat me up more than Trivium, but both were great getting hearing a collection of favorites as well as some unusual tracks for both bands including a cover of Awolnations “Sail” and Trivium playing “Becoming the Dragon” and “Shogun”, it was a fan’s show for sure. They got the crowd moving from square one, and it burned out the crowd quickly trying to keep up.

#6-Carnival of Madness Tour (featuring Shinedown, Papa Roach, Skillet, In This Moment, and We Came as Human)
Tags Summer Stage
Big Flats, NY
August 28

What was great about this show was that it was set out in the country on what looked like a field behind a bar that had been sectioned off, and though it rained, all the bands played through it and it added to the atmosphere. The bands all played phenomenally, and got a crowd that seemed to be more conservative, moving and even moshing together. It was something like Wayne’s World 2 where they just kind of built a stage and got a bunch of great bands playing outside. Shinedown was the headliner with magnificent pyro and the bells and whistles talking level with the crowd, and Skillet played through the worst of the rain getting all their equipment soaked, but seeming to relish it like it was almost part of the show, and Papa Roach poured on the charisma probably being the hardest working band up there.

#5-Stone Sour
The Rapids Theatre
Niagara Falls, NY
January 22

These guys came out to surprise people. True enough, Stone Sour is fronted by Corey Taylor with lead guitar played by Jim Root who are both do likewise in Slipknot, but Stone Sour is not by any means to be taken as the “Side Project” band. Stone Sour can really play, and they are only getting better. They are easily the most surprising band that I got the pleasure to see this past year without question, playing favorites like “30-30-150” and “Absolute Zero” which is hard not to mosh to despite also having a cohesive catalogue to work with like “Bother” and “Inhale” rounding it out perfectly.

#4-Rockstar Mayhem Festival
Darien Lake PAC
Darien Center, NY
July 14

Now, festivals are naturally more awesome just because you get a lot of bands for not a ton of money (theoretically) so it’s hard not to put them higher just on the grounds that its longer, more grueling, and you have more options. However, Mayhem Festival really brought it this year, though to my surprise more with the midcard then with the headers. The headliners had Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Mastodon, and Amon Amarth which are all great, but what did it for me was the combination of Children of Bodom, Machine Head, Born of Osiris, Battlecross, and Job For a Cowboy. It was two alternating stages with hard hitting bands back to back. It is getting to that point where you want to rest and recover, but you just do not have the time to do it because so much awesome is going on at one time. By the time you got done with the second and the third stage and you are completely exhausted, you say “Oh yeah, I forgot the Main Stage hasn’t started yet… ouch.” It was the best combination of bands comprising the support work for the festival, great crowd and it wore you out the way you would expect.

#3-Deftones
Main Street Armory
Rochester, NY
March 4

Now, I admit that the aforementioned had a laundry list of awesome. Normally, they would be switched, however Deftones really brought their A game to that show at the Armory. A lot of people think the same with Deftones as they would about Stone Sour, that it’s a good soft radio rock type band. Let me clear that up by saying that if you go into a Deftones show thinking that just because they have a lot of radio rock you can put your hands down and be up in the front row, prepare to get beaten up. Chino hit us hard with that set list, and it was more chaotic then a metal show. See, the genius is in how they lull you in by playing one softer song to enjoy, and then tear immediately into songs like “My Own Summer,” “Bored” and the painful “7 Words.” What made it awesome was that you were just waiting in anticipation whether you were getting a break to relax or jumping straight into a mosh pit. It is definitely worse when you don’t know that it’s coming.

#2-Riot Festival
Humboldt Park
Chicago, IL
September 13-15

Back to finish out with two festivals both of which are my favorites and it was really hard to pick this year which gets which spot. You see, riot fest is out in Chicago put together to be the biggest punk festival in the country. They certainly mean what they say. They had The Replacements, Fall Out Boy ( argue over punk status ), Danzig with Doyle, Suicidal Tendencies, Joan Jett, Blondie, Blink 182, Gwar, Andrew WK, AFI, Glassjaw, Hatebreed, Bad Religion, Rancid, Pennywise, Flag, and a ton more. I could write a book on this festival and why it’s great, but if I had to sum it up it would be that it’s the most gigantic outpouring of punk music that you simply will not see come to your town. I can’t list all of the great bands because I think there were about 70, but if you like alternative and punk you simply NEED to be at this festival at least once.

#1-Rock On The Range
Crews Stadium
Columbus, OH
May 17-19

Now this is my favorite festival in the U.S. simply because it’s just a jam and hang out for three days type of festival with everything from moshing with guys in costumed suits to crowd surfing with guys in wheelchairs. Its violent, its chaotic, and it’s out of control. This year they had Lamb of God, In Flames, Korn (first show with ex guitarist Brian Welch in years) Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Three Days Grace, Bullet For My Valentine, Stone Sour, Bush, Ghost BC, Cheap Trick, In This Moment, Motionless In White, All That Remains, Smashing Pumpkins, Red, Skillet, Volbeat… like riot fest it’s just a gigantic collection of a lot of great bands. This festival focuses more on the Hard Rock end of the spectrum. Most surprising was In Flames. Now I know that people like to go to shows and actually watch and sit back and enjoy –which you can do there at the Columbus Crew Stadium in the bleacher areas. However, if you are like me and want to go to a show that is just plain nuts with an assortment of different people and big over the top crowds, then Rock on the Range is your festival. Every year it gets bigger, now expanding to three full days this coming year, and better than last year. It is an opportunity to see bands that you normally do not get to see, or maybe wouldn’t normally go see if they played their own show. What’s great about that is that you usually come away liking a few bands that you had not heard of much before. It runs three stages, and always has something going on. Go if you haven’t yet, you will not regret it.

Dave Leary

#10-“Weird Al” Yankovic
Hamburg Fairgrounds Event Center
Hamburg, NY
October 4

Laugh if you must. This was the same show I had seen 2 years before, but still lots of fun. In the words of Homer Simpson, “He who is tired of Weird Al is tired of life”.

#9-Radney Foster
Sportsmen’s Tavern
Buffalo, NY
August 2

As a country fan tired of most of what comes out of Nashville these days, it was a thrill to see this singer/songwriter from Del Rio, TX in one of the coolest venues in Buffalo. He had his share of success in the ‘80s (as half of the duo Foster & Lloyd) and ‘90s but there’s a reason artists like Keith Urban, Dixie Chicks and Sara Evans have had hits with songs he’s written. Simply, he writes great songs.

#8-Bryan Adams
Shea’s Performing Arts Center
Buffalo, NY

This show rocked as much as an acoustic show can. Adams was in excellent voice and showed how much he appreciates his fans. And of course, the venue was perfect.

#7-Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin
Riviera Theatre
North Tonawanda
October 18

Two longtime friends showing why they are among the most acclaimed artists of the last 20 years. They made a beautiful old theater into a living room.

#6-Gin Blossoms
Seneca Niagara Bear’s Den
Niagara Falls, NY
November 15

These guys can still deliver the goods. Those ‘90s hits have staying power but they are still capable of making solid power pop.

#5-Richard Marx
Seneca Niagara Bear’s Den
Niagara Falls, NY
October 25

Writing a good pop song is harder than it seems. (Just listen to most of pop music today). Marx is one of the masters at it. He’s also very funny and doesn’t take himself too seriously.

#4-Steven Page
Thursday at Canalside
Buffalo, NY
June 20

Barenaked Ladies aren’t the same band without Page. On the other hand, Page is still creating great pop songs and has one of the most impressive vocal ranges around.

#3-Los Lonely Boys
Thursday at Canalside
Buffalo, NY
July 18

This band of brothers from San Angelo, Texas have crafted a sound that has been influenced by many but is uniquely theirs. They can really jam and Henry Garza is a beast on guitar.

#2-Brian Setzer Orchestra
Christmas Rocks!
UB Center for the Arts
Amherst, NY
November 27

This was a real SHOW. Incredible musicianship and everyone involved clearly having a good time. Here’s hoping this becomes a semi-annual event.

#1-Vince Gill
NY State Fair
Syracuse, NY
August 28

All these posers dominating the country charts right now, take note. This is REAL country music. This was a dream show for this country music fan. Gill is an all-time great singer, songwriter and guitarist. And it was free!

We would like to take the time and thank everyone for all their hard work in writing the reviews, going to the shows etc. Also we would like to thank all the publicists and band management we have worked with. Hope 2013 was as good a year for you as it was us. Cheers to 2014!!

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About Joseph Suto

Location: Buffalo, NY Photographer/Reviewer
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