JENNINGS: The Tralf says goodbye as live music makes its return

Music fans take in a show at The Tralf Music Hall in Buffalo. The concert venue is shutting its doors following Tab Benoit's two-night stand on May 26 and 27. (Image courtesy of Tralf's Facebook page)

It’s been over 40 years since I attended my first rock concert, and as soon as I entered the smoke-filled arena and felt the thrill of the crowd when the lights went down, I was hooked. I am addicted to live music, and I am sure I am not alone.

The last year has been a challenge for many people and, in some ways, it seems trivial to complain about the lack of live music events over the last year. After all, lives have been upended, businesses closed, jobs lost, and we live in an era filled with divisiveness.

When I attended a concert at The Tralf on March 8, 2020, I had no idea that it would be the last show I would attend for over a year, and that it would likely be the last show I would attend at The Tralf. (The historic venue is slated to close its current location at the end of this month.)

The Tralf will be sorely missed, and even though they will likely be back at a new location, that room is filled with lifelong memories.

The good news is that it looks like live music is making a slow, but steady return. While there are nowhere near the pre-pandemic number of live shows scheduled for this summer, we all have some shows to look forward to in the coming months.

My friends and I have talked about what it will feel like to be at that first big show since last year. Will the crowds be enthusiastic, or will they be tepid? That remains to be seen.

There are some great shows on the horizon I hope to attend, including Blackberry Smoke at Artpark on July 1. Last year was the first year in well over a decade that I did not attend a summer concert at Artpark.

There is something magical that happens when you enter the venue and feel the energy. Artpark crowds can be sweaty and messy, but they love to dance in the aisles and share high-fives during their favorite songs. Whether it’s a hot and humid night, or a cool evening in late summer, a concert at Artpark is magical.

As a community, we look to live music events as an escape from all of our problems, or as a way to celebrate a good life, and everything in-between.

Concerts are communal gatherings of friends and strangers, they are designed to unite disparate groups of people, if only for an evening.

That first concert “back” will be an emotional experience for many people, including the artist. We also forget how important it is for all the crew members who have been out of work, and the people who work the concessions, security and other functions. They will all return.

So if there is a message in this column it is that the music community has brighter days ahead, and while things may not feel completely normal right away, it will be a great day when we can all get together again, and that day is coming soon.

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.

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