With more than 100 musical acts of all sounds and sizes, it would be understandable if most identified Buffalo’s 14th annual Music is Art Festival as an oversized Battle of the Bands.
But as was exhibited Saturday across Delaware Park, the vibrant event is not simply about music. It’s about hosting artistic expression in all forms, and then celebrating its necessity in our lives and community.
From local guitarists to talented muralists to poets, DJs and dance troupes, the sprawling affair showcased the type of kaleidoscopic elements that have always made Buffalo an unpredictable place – as well as one with talent, color and culture to spare.
Here were some of the highlights (before lightning and torrential rain intervened at 7 p.m.):
Festival originator Robby Takac knows what it’s like to be part of an internationally renowned Buffalo-born band. Two acts that could approach these heights – First Ward and the Tins – manned two of MIA’s 15 stages for afternoon sets. The former (with Son of the Sun’s Zak Ward) previewed guitar-geared songs off its forthcoming fall EP before lunch; and the latter made the most of its scant stage time by delivering a pulsating set, highlighted by the bounce of “Taking Liberties.” And speaking of the short sets …
For those looking to sample as many bands as possible in a 12-hour period, festival organizers had you covered off Albright-Knox’s rear staircase. Acts were given 15 minutes each, allowing rising local bands like Senwick – whose debut album “Mountain Climbing” drops later this fall – to offer bite-sized sound clips to those lacking the attention for an entire set list.
Paint by number
Throughout the day, artists toiled on canvases either behind performing acts or under Rose Garden-side canopies. One of those individuals was 26-year-old painter/musician Nick Sardynski, working on a Buffalo-centric piece he only paints at MIA. He started in 2014, but because of last year’s rain-swept affair, he couldn’t continue it until this year. The Colden native plans to have the acrylic-based work finished before his art show at Buffalo’s Hi-Temp Fabrication on Nov. 11.
Teach your children
Plenty of the day’s entertainment wasn’t for the whole family (see next entry), but MIA’s Kids Village was a bastion for youth intent on artistic immersion. Painting stations, “American Idol”-inspired live performances and the Instrument Zoo – which both introduced children to new sounds and highlighted Music is Art’s work in providing instruments for music education – provided a festival unto itself.
There were some elements of this year’s MIA that provided pause-and-notice moments. The festival’s Silent Disco – which allowed attendees to wear headphones and dance to DJ-transmitted tracks – was one. The Reverend Arlo Price was another. A self-proclaimed demented clown of the Savage Buffalo Carnival, his act was highlighted by pounding six nails and running a drill bit into his nose; and inviting concertgoers to whip darts at a balloon stapled to his back for a trick he called “The Human Dart Board.” Reminder: Art is not always conventional.
Poetry, pop favorites
Plenty of artistic endeavors throughout Western New York don’t draw the crowds they deserve. At MIA, poets, aspiring vocalists and dance troupes could present their work to larger audiences. Intermixed between both tender and bombastic poetry stanzas were students of Orchard Park’s Bello Voice Studios – singing the work of Adele and Kelly Clarkson – and the performers of Niagara County Community College’s Tanzen Dance Company, who delivered a series of rousing numbers.