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See You There!

Artvoice's weekly round-up of featured events, including our editor's pick for the week: the Better Days Independent Music Festival, going on Friday through Sunday at the Tralf Music Hall.

If you haven't already, be sure to check out our full events calendar on-line for complete event listings, a location guide to find your way about the city, restaurant reviews, and more.

Better Days Independent Music Festival

Friday, Saturday & Sunday, Aug 31 - Sep 2

The Infringement, Allentown and Elmwood Art Festivals have come and gone, but there’s still one festival left this summer that showcases Buffalo’s artistic spirit and extensive independent music scene. Independent artists and musicians often share the common bond of being able to make art on their own terms. It’s the kind of art and music that Buffalo takes pride in, and this Friday through Sunday (Aug 31 to Sept 2), some of WNY’s most talented indie musicians converge during the Betterdays Independent Music Festival at the legendary Tralf Music Hall. The three-day, multi-genre festival boasts a titanic lineup of established Buffalo bands and up-and-comers alike, with performances running the gamut from jazz, funk, electronic, folk and everything in between. Friday’s lineup features music from Victory for Poland, Wakos, Anytime Anywhere, the Merchants, and post-rockers Early Attic. Buckle down Saturday with Eppo, electro-duo Love Scenes, Canary Girls, Armageddon Party, indie-pop outfit Aircraft, and All Them Witches. Head back Sunday for Searching for Dinosaurs, Blue Shift, Young Guns, and Fourwalls, with Buffalo mainstays Peanut Brittle Satellite capping off the weekend. 10 bucks gets you a three-day pass, so there’s no reason to miss out on any of these shows. —jon wheelock

7pm Tralf Music Hall, 622 Main St. (852-2860 / $10 for a three day pass

Thursday, August 30

Blue Control

When you really think about it, Blues Control’s name is a very subtle oxymoron: on the one hand you’ve got “Blues,” which, when discussing music at least, connotes emotion and good ol’ fashion lo-fi soul; on the other, “Control,” which connotes the crisp, processed precision of the modern studio outfit. The music of Blues Control, if you can fathom it, covers both these extremes and pretty much everything in between. The group’s new album, Valley Tangents, contains everything from intricate, ambient soundscapes to sweeping, emotive post-rock to the tried-and-true distorted chords of rock ’n’ roll, with at least one semi-ironic country song, to boot. Whether your musical taste covers all of these extremes or none of them, head down to Soundlab on Thursday (tonight!) to hear these one-of-a-kind up-and-comers while you have the chance—their tour dates seem to be unpredictable as their music. The bill will also include Pat Cain, Nicky Gordon & The Glass Cylinder and VWLS. —edward a. benoit

9pm Soundlab, 110 Pearl St. (440-5907 / $8

Saturday, August 1

LL Cool J

Rapper LL Cool J took his own advice a couple of weeks ago. Mama said knock you out, and that is just what he did. When his home in Los Angeles was broken into, Cool J, real name James Smith, sprung into action by breaking the intruders jaw and nose. Smith was unharmed, and the burglar, who is now a third strike offender in California, will probably spend the rest of his life in jail. Lesson: don’t mess with Cool James. Other than his massive right hook, the 44-year-old rapper, entrepreneur, and actor is famous for his six platinum selling records, including his 1985 debut Radio, which set him up as Def Jam Records’ flagship artist, 1990’s Mama Said Knock You Out, and 1997’s Phenomenon which was extensively produced by Puff Daddy. He’s acted in movies like the 1999 science fiction horror film Deep Blue Sea and action thriller S.W.A.T., and on television as a regular cast member of NCIS: Los Angeles. Now, the two-time Grammy Award winner will make his way to Buffalo to perform as the final act of the year in the Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor series on Saturday (Sept 1) at the Erie Canal Central Harbor Wharf. —cory perla

6pm Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf ( 10 advance, $20 day of show

Saturday, September 1

Fall Fest Featuring J. Cole & Childish Gambino

University at Buffalo students packed their backpacks this week to start a fresh semester. Last year, the fall started off with a flop fest—The Fray performed at Fall Fest, and students were not happy with the has-been group’s performance. The concert, funded by UB students’ tuition, is the first real welcome-back bash and sets the tone for campus life. This Saturday (Sept 1), J. Cole, Childish Gambino, and French Montana will grace the stage of UB’s Alumni Arena—the second hip-hop fest lineup in a year (Rick Ross, Tyga, and Fabolous performed in April). This lineup may not be full of household names, but the three hip-hop acts are quickly rising to the top of the game. You’ve probably heard J. Cole beg Paula Abdul’s question: “Straight up, now tell me do you really want to love me forever or is this just a hit and run?” in his popular hit, “Work Out,” which is all over the airwaves. He recently signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation label, a sure sign that he isn’t resting his flow any time soon. Childish Gambino, more commonly known as Donald Glover, might be better known for his role on NBC’s Community or his stand-up comedy gigs. But his untraditional style of hip-hop will appeal to hardcore and new fans alike. French Montana is popular with Buffalo hip-hop fans and promises to bring the party to UB. If you want to party like a college student and spend a night under the stars at Lake LaSalle, head over to Fall Fest this Saturday. —rebecca bratek

5:30pm Alumni Arena, 108 Alumni Arena, University at Buffalo North Campus ( Free for UB undergrads, $35 general public

Wednesday, September 5

Jack Wright, Evan Lipsom, Ben Bennett Trio with T.J. Borden, Steve Baczkowski, Dan Bassin

Jack Wright has his feet planted firmly in the sky. As he sits down to perform with saxophone in hand you can see him slowly drifting away. His body stays behind but his mind drifts onto an abstract plane where noise is music and music is noise. His instrument squelches and blurps as band mates Evan Lipson on double bass and drummer Ben Bennett use all of their energy to play their instruments in the most unorthodox ways they can imagine. Bennett prefers mostly homemade drums, like sheet metal and various pieces of rubber stretched across various fames while Lipson seeks to transcend music, the stage, and life in general as he scratches his bow against the wood of the bass behind the strings. The trio’s improvisational experimental music is not meant for the ears of the casual listener, it might even offend certain sensitive, pop-tuned ears. For those who are tuned into free, unstructured, unselfconscious improvisation performed at the highest levels of musicianship, this is the show for you. The Jack Wright, Evan Lipsom, Ben Bennett Trio, along with T.J. Borden, Steve Baczkowski, and Dan Bassin will perform a special live set this Wednesday (Sept 5) at The Vault. —cory perla

9pm The Vault, 702 Main St. (884-7172) $7

Thursday, September 6

Bob Dylan

You’d be hard-pressed to find any songwriter who has put together a career as impressive as Bob Dylan’s. In the 50 years since he released his first album, he’s influenced music and pop culture in unquantifiable ways, and released some of the most important albums of all-time. For the angry protest rage of his early acoustic work, to the gut-wrenching heartache of Blood On the Tracks, to rewarding late-period masterpieces like Time Out of Mind, and Modern Times, Dylan’s ability to not only retain his songwriting skills, but his cultural relevance as well, has put him in a class of his own. Dylan is about to release Tempest, his first album of non-Christmas material since 2009’s Together Through Life. While there was some speculation that it would be his final album, due to the title’s similarity to The Tempest (Shakespeare’s final play), Dylan has steadfastly denied that claim and will likely be putting out albums for as long as he is on this earth. The album will feature “Roll On John,” a tribute to John Lennon, while the title track is an epic describing the sinking of the Titanic. Dylan will likely perform a fair amount of material from Tempest when he comes to Artpark this Thursday (Sept 6). Even as Dylan has gotten older—he turned 71 this year—the fire of his live shows has not gone out. He performs with an unparalleled level of passion that can be appreciated by casual Dylan fans and diehards alike. —john hugar

7pm Artpark Mainstage, 450 South 4th St., Lewiston (754-4375 / $40 GA lawn

Thursday, September 6

Superhuman Happiness

If the words “physical, cinematic, dance rock,” get you excited, then this article is only going to get better for you from here. Those are the words that Brooklyn’s Superhuman Happiness uses to describe their music. Those adjectives might seem hard to live up to, especially with a name like Superhuman Happiness, but this eight-piece band gives it their all. With a high-energy live show complete with blasting horns, vibrating rhythms, and electro drum beats, the group—led by multi-instrumentalist Stuart Bogie—really don’t seem to care about anything else but having a great time on stage and bringing the crowd up to their level of bliss. Bogie, a former member of New York City funk group Antibalas has laid down saxaphone grooves for bands like TV on the Radio and Iron & Wine, and has also worked on Broadway. Superhuman Happiness recently released their debut EP, The Physical, and as you can imagine, its combination of indie rock, dance, and funk will keep you moving for their entire set. Don’t miss them when they come to Nietzsche’s next Thursday (Sept 6). —cory perla; photo by Tatiana McCabe

7pm Nietzsche’s, 248 Allen St. (886-8539 / $12