Photos by Janine Van Oostrom
Nothing says Christmas quite like a Friday night filled with some good old alternative music. The Kerfuffle Before Christmas is an annual night of music hosted by AltBuffalo in the KeyBank Centre and this years lineup included Judah & the Lion, Atlas Genius, Joywave, Capital Cities, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, and Dirty Heads.
The night was kicked off by Judah & the Lion; while they were probably the least known band there they easily put on one of the most entertaining performances of the night. I’m not sure what was the most entertaining part; the shirtless dancing/guitar solos or when the lead singer, Judah Akers, went straight into the middle of the crowd lead full on dance party. Either way all of that plus their unique rock/pop/hip hop sound was enough to get any crowd moving. Their stellar act was then followed by yet another one of my favorites from the night, Atlas Genius. The Australian duo have already made quite the name for themselves in the world of indie music and in all honesty it was quite a surprise to see them play so early in the night. Despite their early slot and rather short five song set Atlas Genius absolutely hit it out of the park, getting the crowd singing along to their familiar songs like “Trojans” and “Stockholm”. The next band to take the stage were the hometown heros Joywave, who last minute saved the day by stepping in for Grouplove who cancelled last minute due to medical issues. But after Joywave’s first song Grouplove was honestly really not missed all the much. Joywave are one of the few bands who always seem to get better every time you see them; lead vocalist Daniel Armbruster has an infectious energy and really breaks the barrier between the crowd and the artist on stage. The entire band is engaging and managed to get the crowd to one of the highest points in the night with their hit song “tongues”.
While the night was half over and seemed to be getting off to a great start, unfortunately I found that the momentum built by the first three bands dropped when Capital Cities took to the stage. While in terms of the music they are unique and extremely talented and a pleasure to listen to; but their energy just didn’t seem to be there at all. They were stagnant and seemed to just be moving through the motions. It wasn’t until the end when they played their biggest hit “Safe and Sound” that they seemed to have found any momentum at all, unfortunately it appeared it was a little too late. The next act to follow was a crowd favorite, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. It appeared that so many members of the crowd had come just to see his performance and he did not disappoint his fans one bit. For the most part you will always find McMahon behind his piano, which is most cases would be boring to watch, but not in his case. He doesn’t let the piano anchor him to one spot and for the most part it actually makes his entire performance that much more interesting. His set was a mix of both old and new hits and members of the crowd of all ages really seemed to be infatuated by him.
After a night full of music it was finally time for the final band, Dirty Heads, to take the stage. It seemed that the whole night had been building up to this moment and the crowd was more than ready for them to take the stage. When they finally did the crowd was overly enthused; singing dancing, and snapchatting their little hearts away. Yet I couldn’t help but feel like again something was missing from their performance, it simply just seemed to fall flat. While they did seem to build up some momentum as the night carried on; ending their set with balloons literally falling from the sky, I wasn’t entirely blown away.
All in all the entire night evened out nicely, where some bands lacked towards the end the beginning bands really made up for it. The lineup had its strong points and of course its weaker points but we can’t wait to see what’s in store for AltBuffalo’s Kerfuffle this summer!