A lot can change in two years. Two years ago I was in school struggling to figure myself out, and writing was the last thing on my mind (and now here we are). Two years ago my best friend Crystal and I spent our first summer together living in Buffalo, and it was one for the history books. Aside from spending nearly every minute together, struggling to find food on a deserted campus and ultimately solidifying our best friendship forever, summer 2015 was the first year we got to experience the Anti-Venue Tour.
A series of concerts in unconventional spaces, the Anti-Venue Tour has broken the norm for music, visual art and culture in Buffalo. It gives young people, especially young people of color, a chance to express their creativity on their own platform.
Watching shows in poutine shops, backyards and in people’s houses, we got to experience the first real collection of artists coming together to showcase all the talent Buffalo has to offer.
Two years later, the scene is only getting bigger, and just like a fine wine, the Anti-Venue Tour continues to get better with time. This year’s show took place in the Barrel Factory, and highlighted just how much the show, the people and the culture have grown since it started.
Back in 2015 the shows simply felt like young teenagers coming together to have fun and express themselves. But this year, with drinks flowing at the bar, writers (including myself), videographers and photographers collecting dope content, designers selling their clothes and artists performing brand new music, the event has turned into networking, branding and is overall elevating the culture to the next level.
Performers included Dean Chatham (@deanchatham), Don zZombie (@donzzombie), Droyd (@droyddiddat) and my good friend Billie Essco (@uptownchase). Billie Essco performed his new single “Function,” which can be found on iTunes.
The tour is sponsored by Haute La Vie since 2166, a Buffalo based multi media production company that specializes in creative experiences that promote authenticity, music and art. Last year, they expanded the tour out of Buffalo, making stops and bringing artists to Atlanta and Toronto.
Haute La Vie continues to bring the creatives of Buffalo together, and strives to bridge the gap between the local culture and the mainstream music industry. This year they hosted their first Creative Space workshop, an all day event in which local artists, bloggers, videographers/photographers and marketing entrepreneurs had the chance to network with people in the music industry to learn helpful tips and tools to develop their careers.
For many in the area, being a Black creative is not just a fun thing to do, but it is a career goal that takes time, energy, and hard work. Luckily, Haute La Vie and the Anti Venue Tour have done an amazing job of bringing together a community dedicated to helping one another reach the next level.
Being surrounded by so much creativity and Black excellence has been nothing short of inspiring. Many creatives there were people I have met and gotten to know over the last couple of years, and slowly but surely we are seeing one another progress in our crafts. Each year we grow and do more to leave our mark not only in Buffalo, but one day, the world. It is about creating a movement to spread love and spread the culture, and that is what the Anti-Venue Tour is all about.