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“It’s an incredibly awesome experience just being up on stage.”

Inlite a highlight

Teen bands, a Ryan Miller cameo with Klear highlight a rainy Music Is Art

By LEIGH GIANGRECO NeXt Correspondent
Updated: 09/17/08 6:54 AM

                                                                               Robby Takac

Maybe there’s a rain cloud that seems to follow Robby Takac around, but the local Goo always seems to prevail over it. Despite the ominous gray skies over the Albright Knox on Saturday, the sixth annual Music Is Art festival was an enormous success. The strategic location at Buffalo’s great modern art museum seemed to be a no-brainer for Takac. The regal, columns and statues of the muses proved to be the perfect backdrop for the more than 30 bands, DJs, dancers, emcees and artists at the festival.

Compared to the festival’s previous location at the Hamburg fairgrounds, which Takac said “might as well be Siberia for most people,” the new venue drew large crowds from the community, many of them families with children, bohemians wandering off Elmwood, teenage music junkies and other resident Delaware characters.

The festival offered a diverse array of artists and musicians, ranging from the jazzy Ron Davis Acid Funk Duo to the Polish polka playing of “Those Idiots.”

Peanut Brittle Satellite was the perfect example of the diverse music served at MIA. When a band describes itself as “an eclectomusic covered in cheese and a white wine sauce,” it’s not surprising to find that their sound can be eerie and psychedelic. Another refreshing talent was the Pseudo Intellectuals who caught the audience with their fresh beats and smart rapping that didn’t have to resort to name-dropping gangs and drugs. D. J. Cutler of Pseudo Intellectuals created this sound by mixing elements of jazz, emo and ’80s throwback hip-hop.

A good portion of the festival lineup was devoted to finalists from the Music Is Art Student Battle of the Bands. One of the first performers of the day, Letterset opened strong despite some early technical difficulties with their song “Goodnight Moon.” As far as showmanship, Letterset did not disappoint, with bassist Ryan Brzyski performing acrobatic skills with his guitar.

“I think that being in a band is more about putting on a good show than just good music because if you just have good music people almost see through it, unless you’re doing something that will attract their attention,” says Brzyski. “We figured dancing around on stage and flipping guitars around our shoulders would be entertaining to watch.”

Another crowd-pleaser and Battle of the Bands finalist was Sleepless City of Grand Island with one of the most energetic and enthusiastic performances of the day. Lead vocalist and guitarist Craig Perno ripped through chords saying, “This is where it gets fun.” Sleepless City was one of two Battle finalists from Grand Island, and despite what one might think, they say that there is no competition between them.

“We’re good friends with [Inlite] actually,” said one member of Sleepless City. “We used [Inlite’s] drummer’s cymbals. We help each other definitely.”

Inlite was unarguably the highlight of the festival. Throughout the day, band members could be seen walking the grounds in their coordinating vests and ties followed by throngs of Inlite groupies. “I just want to clear something up,” says lead singer and guitarist Jordan Dixon. “We are not the Jonas brothers. I don’t know the Jonas Brothers personally. I think our look was more Franz Ferdinand. We Are Scientist-esque.” Before their opening set, the damp marble steps were packed wall to wall with people, some even chanting for the band, and when Dixon arrived on stage the crowd went mad. The band played four sets (at the request of the audience) with all the bravado and panache of true rock stars, dancing around the stage and interacting with fans. But in spite of all the attention, Inlite was still humbled to be part of the festival experience.

“It’s an incredibly awesome experience just being up on stage,” says drummer Josh Little. “When we would watch the bands that we love we would be so inspired by them, and then what we do ourselves it’s something so completely different. I think that one of the best things is when you see somebody smile or when you make somebody happy with your music, you can make a difference. It’s really crucial to put a positive influence in the world, seeing somebody smile, making somebody’s day, that’s one of the reasons we like doing it so much I think.”

While Inlite dominated Act I of Music Is Art, Takac had more in store for the audience. One of the most anticipated acts of the event, Drew Stafford, Ryan Miller and Robby performing with Klear, was a huge hit. The two Sabres have a not-so-secret talent for music, as was seen when they performed with Ronan Tynan and the BPO this year, and jammed out “I want you to want me” with Takac and Klear. With Stafford on drums and Miller just as focused on his guitar as he is on the ice, Takac really charged the audience. “When I say, ‘Didn’t I see you crying?’, you sing M-I-A!” shouted Takac over the mic. As for a Miller-Stafford rock group in the future Miller said: “I’ll take any chance to play, I can get, it’s Drew you gotta watch out for, he’s got a group going with his buddies. He’s actually trying to put a CD out, so he’s the real talent here. I just like to have fun, goof

around, Drew’s kind of multitalented.”

The musical talent of Buffalo showcased at MIA seemed endless, but a fantastic example of a great Rust Belt band was Agent Me. An indie band that has recently signed onto Takac’s label Good Charamel Records, Agent Me may be the successor to the Goo Goo Dolls as the next Buffalo band to extend its roots outside Western New York. One could not help but notice the eerie similarity of Agent Me’s fantastic performance in the pouring rain to the Goo Goo Dolls’ on the Fourth of July in 2004. “We don’t have much of an agenda,” says guitarist James Kurdziel. “We like making music, we like being together, and hanging out, the stuff that that does for us is awesome, but really we just have so much fun together. I don’t think we’re looking to be the next anything.” Ryan James, lead vocalist and guitarist of Agent Me, demonstrated his voice range from coarse and grinding to higher smoother notes in the awesome hooks which were only complimented by Brandon McCrohan’s loud, raw bass.

Of course it wouldn’t be Music Is Art without a wide array of artists including painters and photographers. Even right in the midst of the festival, painters were creating live art –and were not limited to canvas. Artist Lindsay Taylor was painting a truck before the rain started. Markenzy Cesar, originally from Haiti but who studied at Buffalo State College, had a myriad of drawings and paintings with witty observations and satirical messages, like a painting of a flag with the words “Made in China” printed in the left hand corner. A Music Is Art Kids Village featured hands-on crafts, hands-on music and dancing.

Even the art of politics was represented, with a Rock the Vote booth set up with Miyoko Takac and Tom Gleed. “Rock the Vote is really important, I think the youth definitely want to see a change of the guard,” says Takac. “Engaging our youth in the election process gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility,” notes Gleed. “A sense that they have a hand in their future and all of our futures.”

Leigh Giangreco is a senior at Nardin.