Makin’ my way (from) downtown

How a rap concert turned into a ridiculous journey home

Summers in UB’s Ellicott Complex are terrible.

Remember freshman year, feeling like you’re sleeping in the devil’s attic after move-in?

Now imagine the devil expanded his duplex to a 56-story skyscraper. This was my reality last year and escaping the dorms was my only way out.

In order to not deal with the building anxiety I felt over melting in an Ellicott triple, I decided to make a list of concerts and events I wanted to check out in Buffalo. Most must-see events were happening in Toronto, but there was one concert happening at Canalside that stuck out for me: Ghostface Killah and Slick Rick.

As a rap fan, I knew this would be the highlight of my summer. Two legends, one stage and a beautiful 70-degree day at the foot of Lake Erie. What could go wrong?

I immediately hit up my friend, who recently graduated and lived in Western New York. He knew about my Uber-filled, car-less lifestyle that I question every night. He promised to meet me downtown and drive me back after the show.

At this point in the summer, I had spent all my money at Toronto music festivals. I was as broke as a student using a coin jar to pay for Sizzles instead of a meal swipe.

As the night of the show arrived, I was starving. When I got to Canalside, one food truck stood out above all others: Lloyd’s.

It was only midway through my taco trifecta that I realized I couldn’t afford a Metro ride back. I needed the ride back to North Campus.

The concert itself was sick. Between Rick’s “La Di Da Di” and Killah’s “Ice Cream,” the crowd was rocking all night. By the time Killah performed his solo cut “Nutmeg,” I was still waiting on my friend.

At this point, I recorded most of the show, being the self-indulgent yet humble young man I am. I checked the top right corner of my phone: 5 percent.

I texted my friend, who still hadn’t shown up. Deep down, a tiny piece of me pictured him coming through with a ride back, even though he couldn’t get to the show. Two minutes after texting him, I got a reply.

His dog was sick.

He couldn’t make it.

I now had no idea how I was going to get back to my nightmarish dorm room.

I immediately drafted a game plan. This was my Finals Game 7 moment with three seconds left in the game. I would take the rail to the last free stop, call my friend who lived near South Campus then get a ride back. I thought I was set when the train dropped me off near Shea’s Theatre.

Once I stepped out of the car, however, my artistic eye got in the way. I spotted a beautiful street mural, depicting a man and a woman with beautiful flowing hair. I had to take a pic for the ‘gram.

Just like that, with my camera app open, my phone went to black. My hope of getting a ride faded. I was now stuck walking from downtown to South Campus.

I figured the hour-and-a-half walk wouldn’t be too bad. Besides, it would introduce me to the city of Buffalo more than UB ever has. I saw Allentown, Forest Lawn cemetery and even a few cute squirrels brawling over a Timbit. On LaSalle Street, I got asked for a cigarette and was yelled at for not having one, which showed me the ugly side of the city of good neighbors.

I got to South Campus and there, I saw one last bus, so I made a dash for it. But as the bell on top of Hayes Hall rang midnight, the doors of the Stampede closed.

As I watched the bus take off, I planned an obituary for The Buffalo News: R.I.P. my feet.

The real walk had only just begun.

I stopped at Diefendorf Hall for a quick water break in my own rendition of the Buffalo Marathon. By the time I passed Maynard Avenue, I was frustrated and prioritized time over all else.

Bad idea #341: Instead of walking, I was going to sprint back to UB.

I didn’t make it a block before I was panting like a dog. The tacos must’ve weakened any physical strength I had left.

I decided to take a breather in an empty Walgreens parking lot. I sat down on the curb and looked up at the moon, reminiscing about the beautiful life I had before the walk.

Like a zombie, I decided to creep the entire way back, past the strip of hotels near Flint Road and UB’s Center for Tomorrow. After getting to Capen, I let out a victory screech, disturbing a few sleeping geese on top of Knox. They were surprised by my energy, though, dapping me up with their wings and tweeting about my walk to their geese pals. They’d never seen someone walking from downtown alive.

Still, there were 10 more minutes left until I reached Richmond Quadrangle.

As the seemingly endless journey came to a halt, I opened my door, put my phone on the charger and waited until it rebooted.

My friend texted back: “How was the concert?”

Benjamin Blanchet is the senior features editor and can be reached at and @BenjaminUBSpec.


Benjamin Blanchet is a graduate student and student journalist based in Buffalo, New York. Aside from The Spectrum, Blanchet has appeared in Brooklyn’s ARTSY Magazine and New York’s RESPECT. Magazine.