Originally Published in The Buffalo News
June 18, 2019
By Michael Farrell
The calendar reads June, but it still doesn’t feel like summer. Yet.
Blame it on a spring that never happened, or recent weeks that have felt more applicable for brown ales than beach parties. But if you want to get technical, summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21 — which makes this year’s scheduling of 107.7 Alternative Buffalo’s Kerfuffle all the more appropriate.
Set for its annual spot at Canalside starting at 2 p.m. on the first day of summer, the festival has always served as a de facto start to the concert season for local alt-rock fandom, and now enters its sixth edition with a leaner lineup (seven bands) than in previous years. What does that mean for concertgoers? Less acts, but more time to enjoy the breadth of each performer’s catalog — and this year’s marquee boasts bands with no shortage of material.
Here’s the rundown of this year’s groups, and what they will bring to Buffalo’s waterfront.
Walk the Moon
No strangers to the Queen City (its most recent visit was in January at the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts), the Cincinnati-born pop outfit has earned its devoted following for such confetti-strewn callback tracks as the 2014 single, “Shut Up and Dance.” But one hit doesn’t earn the band a headline spot. A steady stream of crowd-pleasing cuts does, so look for the Nicholas Petricca-led quartet to keep its fans bouncing come nightfall.
Song to shout for: “Anna Sun”
The Head and the Heart
Once an indie-folk act singing about rivers, roads and the homes they left behind, Seattle’s now-sextet has veered into more pop-appropriate territory over its last two albums, including the May release “Living Mirage.” Tracks are sharper, shinier and more swooning — and that’s OK. The Sub Pop collective has evolved past its groupings with Fleet Foxes on Pandora, but hasn’t abandoned the type of emotive material that earned its initial following.
Song to shout for: “Another Story”
Fun fact: Los Angeles-based artist Bishop Briggs was born Sarah McLaughlin. Another fun fact: Briggs’ dark pop and stage presence bears no resemblance to the famous Canadian singer and ASPCA spokeswoman her name phonetically resembles. For affirmation, see her 2018 breakout hit “River” or her newest hypnotic cut, “Baby.”
Song to shout for: “Baby”
Catfish and the Bottlemen
Another band making a return to Buffalo is the Van McCann-led Catfish, who made an appearance at Rec Room over the winter. That show gave attendees a taste of the Welsh rockers’ power-pop forte, fronted by its affable presence, and now full of searing cuts off three studio albums — including this year’s “The Balance.”
Song to shout for: “Cocoon”
Kerfuffle has thrived at booking acts complementary to their counterparts, whether in image, instrumentation or both. Australia’s Atlas Genius checks these boxes, with brothers Keith, Michael and Steven Jeffrey providing the party-starting percussion and synth (see new single “Can’t Be Alone Tonight”) necessary to fit in with this year’s lineup.
Song to shout for: “If So”
Since the release of its dreamy 2010 debut “All Night,” Chicago natives Dexter Tortoriello and Megan Messina have produced artistic work that’s meandered into interesting sonic areas. With last year’s alt-radio favorite “Fast Talk,” the duo delivered an infectious, keys-laden cut that connected with a mass audience — and should earn more fans at Kerfuffle.
Song to shout for: “Fast Talk”