Survivor: Seneca Allegany Casino Performance Was On Life Support

SALAMANCA – OK, I have to admit, I was excited about seeing Survivor at the Seneca Allegany Casino Saturday. In fact, I passed up a chance to head over to see the Buffalo Philharmonic at Ellicottville to see the rock icons.

I believe I made the wrong choice.

Now, before things get out of hand, the music was good, and it will be left at that – good. It was not great, but Frankie Sullivan can still play that guitar in unbelievable ways.

The show started off in an ominous way. Many bands these days have a darkened stage, maybe blue lights to make sure they don’t trip over cables or something on their way to their marks. While the stage is dark, recorded music – often an energy-builder – is played to get the audience rallied for a good time. All of that happened. Promising start. Then, after the music ended – with the stage still darkened – silence from the speakers for what seemed like a few minutes led to the band sauntering onto the stage. Yeah, the energy had left the room. That seemed to stick with the audience for the majority of the show.

As the opening notes of “Feels Like Love” started to fill the speakers, another problem was evident. The sound was like someone missed soundcheck. That someone must have been the engineer. Not one level felt, or remotely sounded, as if it had been balanced. The bass was heavy throughout the show and the guitar mix, as well as both vocals, seemed to be out of balance, making for a rather poor-quality sound.

As most frontmen will do, crowd interaction is a normal part of a rock concert. That was an area that was severely lacking. Yes, the occasional offering of the microphone to audience members to sing was there, but other than that, a lot of dead air – to steal a radio term – filled the room that had the unusual feel of a morgue for the majority of the show.

Usually, in past shows at the Seneca Allegany Casino, sing-along portions will be audible. Not so much for these guys. I think they heard the first five rows or so, since they are the only ones who seemed to be into the show, the diehards, but the rest of the audience was rather unimpressed. A glance around the room showed more people on their phones, texting or Facebooking, than really paying attention to what was going on.

Now, a major draw in advance of the show was that both singers of the band, Jimi Jamison and Dave Bickler, were with the band. Not knowing what the personal situation between the two is, it would be fair to say that there was an energy of tension on stage, with the two seemingly walking on eggshells around each other, as both were on stage at the same time for the majority of the show.

One of the few highlights of the show was the amazing keyboard work of Walter Tolentino throughout the performance. The guy can rock the keys. He was also masterful in his guitar work with Sullivan. The final song of the night, and the one I think everyone was waiting for, “Eye of the Tiger,” was the only point that brought the people still in attendance to their feet and singing. The rest of the time, the place resembled that scene in “This is Spinal Tap,” where the band plays the Air Force Base dance; no one really knew how to take them.

Hopefully the next show at the casino proves to be a return to the high level of entertainment standard the place has become known for hosting.