Buffalo’s Every Time I Die Embodies City’s Spirit

There aren’t many bands that embody the spirit of a city like Every Time I Die. Hailing from Buffalo, NY, they bring their hometown with them wherever they go, in their merchandise and their songs. They also bring people together from across New York – and the world – like few other bands, creating a community out of strangers. This is a common theme among hardcore bands, but Every Time I Die takes things to the next level, so much so, that the City of Buffalo has recognized them on several occasions. Their connection to sports, and hockey in particular, adds another layer to the city’s embrace of a local band.


Every Time I Die’s sound has evolved since their inception in 1998. They can be described as post-hardcore, metalcore, or hardcore punk. However you identify them, their music embodies the grit and emotion of Buffalo, a city often on the receiving end of negative comments, even from NHL players. The band’s deep connection to the city was front and center in their latest full-length record, Low Teens, which was released in 2016. The single, “Map Change, is a direct message to their friends and neighbors.

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In an interview with NPR after the video’s release in 2017, frontman and lyricist Keith Buckley talked about its message: “This video is our love letter to Buffalo in all its bleak glory,” Buckley told NPR’s Lars Gotrich. His description is as honest as the video itself. Even as a positive example of the future of some of New York’s rust-belt cities, “Map Changes’ lyrics and video connect you to a different reality and those who live it, which is often forgotten or ignored.

Buffalo’s Band

For the last 16 years, Every Time I Die has thrown a December holiday show in Buffalo, though it’s so much more than that. The show, ‘Tid The Season has grown dramatically, recently expanding to Buffalo River Works and attracting fans from all over the world. For the band’s 20th and the show’s 15th anniversary, the City of Buffalo declared Dec. 15, 2018, “Every Time I Die Day.”

The proclamation ends with the recognition of the band’s continued advocacy for the city, a meaningful moment for both the band and their fans.

We have loved this city for our entire lives and this weekend it officially loved us back. Words cannot begin to express how much this means, but if you were there then you felt what we did. Not many bands get to do this for 20 years. That’s because not many bands have Buffalo, NY behind them. We are nothing without you. And for those that traveled, you’re always welcome here with us. At home.

Every Time I Die Instagram post, December 2018

Their ‘Tid the Season website features a section dedicated to tourism, helping out-of-town fans enjoy Buffalo to the fullest by pointing out places to eat, museums, and other local favorites.

Every Time I Die
Every Time I Die, 2018. (Jax 0677 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0))

The 2019 event also featured a curling tournament, Curling For a Cure, where fans could play with and against members of participating bands, like Against Me!. Proceeds from Curling For a Cure were donated to Friends Of The Night People, an organization whose mission is to provide food and healthcare for the homeless in Buffalo.

Related: Sabres Goalie Rocky Farr Recalls Memories From Early Buffalo Teams

To kick-off the band’s set during the 2019 edition, they invited one of, if not the, biggest Buffalo Bills fans to introduce them – Marc Miller. Known for his rant ahead of the 1993 Superbowl, Miller led the crowd in a “Let’s Go Buffalo” chant, which happens often in bars, restaurants, at sporting events, or just walking down Chippewa Street.

‘Tid the Season, For Hockey

On Dec. 30, 2007, Drew Stafford and teammate Ryan Miller joined Ronon Tynan – a world-class Irish Tenor – and the Buffalo Philharmonic for a concert at Kleinhan’s Music Hall to benefit the Sabres Foundation. Tynan had heard the two Sabres were musicians and invited them to join him for a charity performance. “They are both unbelievably musically talented, and two great guys on top of it,” Tynan said in an interview with Buffalo Rising. Following the show, Stafford was asked to name his favorite bands, and he mentioned Every Time I Die.

Former Buffalo Sabre Drew Stafford (Photo by Andy Martin Jr)

“Within the next couple of days I got an email from their manager saying the band was trying to get in touch with me,” Stafford said in an interview with NHL.com. “I got one of their phone numbers, got them tickets to a few games and ended up talking to them a little bit.”

After connecting with the band, Stafford joined them on Warped Tour in the summer of 2008. “They all happen to be from Buffalo and are huge hockey fans,” Stafford said. “They had just as many questions about hockey as I did about music.” Stafford and the band became so close that he played a small roll in the band’s “Decayin’ With the Boys” music video in 2014. When Stafford was traded to the Winnipeg Jets in Feb. 2015, Every Time I Die posted a farewell message to their friend on Twitter.

When Stafford joined the Boston Bruins a couple of years later, Every Time I Die made sure to invite their favorite hockey player to their show in Boston and bring him on stage. The band’s connection to the Sabres continues to this day, in a collaboration with the Violent Gentlemen Hockey Club, where they’ve created a hockey jersey and other cool items.

Related: Gord Downie, Hockey, and the Tragically Hip

Every Time I Die’s shows are electric and captivating, entrancing their audience with a barrage of raw emotion; fitting for a band that calls Buffalo home, a city that wears its heart on its sleeve and whose residents will melodically shout their love for it at every turn. Every Time I Die might be the biggest local band in the world, a sort of underdog story that will forever connect them to their hometown.