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Buffalo's Best Concert Venues

By Rebecca Nagel, Features Contributor

There are three types of people on this planet when it comes to concerts: people who absolutely love concerts wherever and whenever, people who only go to a concert every few years (and even then, only those with seats — “None of that ‘standing room only’ nonsense”) and those who entirely loathe concerts.

Now that the number of COVID cases has gone down enough to start going back to live music, I have attended many concerts since March 2022 — 11 in total! — ranging in location from places around Buffalo to others in Detroit and Pittsburgh.

The KeyBank Center starts off as my pick for the worst venue. It’s great for people who like bigger artists and assigned seats, but it’s usually the most expensive venue and the hardest to get a good view without dipping into your college savings.

Next up is Shea’s. I’ve only been to one concert there and paid $60 per ticket to be in the sixth row. I assumed that the sixth row would be super close to the band, but the spacing of the rows had us much further from the stage than we thought we’d be. Shea’s is perfect for plays and musicals, but it definitely lacks when it comes to concerts.

Canalside is a much better location for a concert. I have only been to one concert there, but the experience was memorably pleasant. I went to Kiss the Summer Hello for free with some of my friends to promote a rideshare app. Even with the hot temperature, the pouring rain, being forced to talk to strangers and having to stand up on stage to promote the app during the time I was there, I believe that Canalside is a nice venue for concerts because it is generally easy to get close to the stage and enjoy the show.

My second favorite venue is Artpark. If you have never been to Artpark, it’s important to know that there are two different stages on the property. The mainstage is a general admission venue that’s mainly standing room, which I prefer because it is cheaper and easier to move towards the front of the crowd. Their amphitheater is a stage with covered seating and a lawn in the back. The lawn is not for the faint of heart and may leave you sore due to the awkward angle of the hill. While I do not recommend sitting on the lawn for Artpark concerts, everywhere else is extremely comfortable and has a great view.

Last, but certainly not least, Town Ballroom is arguably the best venue in WNY. Three out of the 11 concerts I went to this year were at Town Ballroom, and I don’t regret a single one of them. Most tickets are only $20, and as long as you arrive about an hour before doors open, you will be right in front of the stage and possibly even at the barricade. The intimacy of the venue and its affordable ticket prices are unmatched.

As someone who is well experienced in the field of WNY concert venues, my best advice is to buy the tickets, arrive early and have the best time of your life. I’ve seen Selena Gomez, the Jonas Brothers, Sabrina Carpenter and many other popular artists in concert, but the smaller, local concerts are way better than any arena tour I’ve seen.

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