Monday, September 11, 2023

Live Shows: Buffalo Tom and Dutch Tulips, Bellforge Arts Center, Medfield, MA 9/10/23

Image by Daykamp Creative

Buffalo Tom are one of those bands I try to go see every time they play locally. They're a legendary local band and their Boston area shows always have an intimate feel no matter how large of a venue they play. I also love exploring former mental hospitals, so since they played an early evening show at Bellforge Arts Center at the site of the former Medfield State Hospital, I couldn't resist.

The band opened up their set with "Summer," which despite being one of my favorites of theirs, was the perfect song to get the crowd that was mostly sitting back in lawn chairs up on their feet and towards the stage. Plus, it's the perfect song for the summer that refuses to end here in New England. Despite not playing out a ton these days, Buffalo Tom always nail that perfect mixture of loose and tight that you can only get from playing together for over three decades. It's also easy to forger just how many great songs Buffalo Tom have. "Taillights Fade" is big enough to be covered by Pearl Jam, and we all remember "Birdbrain" and "Tangerine," but songs like "Treehouse" and "Kitchen Door" are equally classics. Even a relatively newer song like "All Be Gone" from 2018's Quiet and Peace fits itself in perfectly with the ones from our high school and college years. The band also broke out a new song, "Autumn Letter," from an unreleased album, and if it is any indication we're all in for a treat in the next year ago.

Both Bill Janovitz and Chris Colburn grew up in Medfield, so it was a true hometown show for the band. We got lots of anecdotes about Medfield, including that "Sodajerk" is about Janovitz working at the Friendly's down the street as a teenager. That helped give the show a truly intimate feeling despite it being attended by one thousand people in a field. Bellforge Arts Center did a truly great job of putting together a show in an ideal setting for a laid back but still excited crowd. Even the rain mostly held off with barely a drizzle for the entire span of the performance. It's always great to see one of your favorite bands playing in what will surely become one of your favorite venues.

Dutch Tulips opened the show with their blend of alt-rock meets pop. They have a more pop leaning vibe than Buffalo Tom, but they fit in well with them. A new band playing in a field in front of aging Gen-Xers is always an uphill battle, but they held their own and won over many in the audience by the end of their set. Hey, fuzzed out pop-leaning alt-rock will always go over well with a crowd that grew up in Boston in the 90's, and many in the crowd were sporting brand new Dutch Tulips shirts by the time Buffalo Tom took the stage.

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