Welcome to the family
The local hardcore-music scene in Buffalo stays afloat amongst the waves
Broadway Joe's, located on Main Street near UB's South Campus, is a lasting member of the Buffalo hardcore music scene family, hosting shows for local and visiting bands. Aline Kobayashi, The Spectrum
The Waiting Room, located on Delaware Ave. in Buffalo, has emerged as a new venue and saving grace for a hardcore music scene in Buffalo that has struggled to stay alive with the closing of several venues. Aline Kobayashi, The Spectrum
Sheets of loose-leaf paper smudged with eraser marks occupy part of the wall in the cramped basement. A full drum kit, a few guitars and stacks of amps enclose the already small room even more.
"All right guys, let's practice the new one we wrote," said Ryan Ridley, guitarist of local Buffalo hardcore band A Breath Alive, as drummer Rob Campbell tapped absentmindedly on his cymbals.
The Buffalo arts scene is a consistent attraction for many. The music scene in The Queen City has a rich history, with many locals signed to major record labels such as rock act The Goo Goo Dolls and metal band Every Time I Die.
In the last few years, Spring Fest and Fall Fest have primarily centered on rap/R&B and techno acts. What some incoming students don't know is that there is a prevalent music scene in Buffalo outside of the bubble that is UB. There are indie bands like Sweet Apollo, pop-punk bands like Breckenwood, and hardcore-metal bands that contribute to Buffalo's diversity.
But keeping this music scene alive and thriving is currently a problem, according to local show promoter Nick Sallee.
"There are times in this scene when everything goes into negative territory with trash talking other bands, venues closing and some shows just not making enough profit," Sallee said. "Buffalo's music scene is constantly fluctuating, but it can be so much stronger with more support."
Sallee's biggest competitor is After Dark Entertainment, one of the largest and most well-known promotion companies in Western New York. After Dark has booked countless musicians ranging from heavy-metal band After The Burial, to punk band All Time Low and everything in between. While Sallee is fairly new to the music scene, his passion for the scene and the people in it are strong.
Some shows don't pull in the attendance that he needs to make a profit, which can have a negative effect on the bands as well as Sallee. Bands won't make a second trip to Buffalo if they aren't pulling in enough money from ticket or merchandise sales.
"If money wasn't such a huge factor, I'd pick a show of 50 people who each stayed from the first band to the last and bought merchandise over 150 people who left three bands in with no merch," Sallee said. "The heart of the crowd outweighs the number."
Regardless of a crowd's passion, attendance is the most important aspect of a show. For local bands, the more people that show up, the more fans they will have. For venues, the more people that attend a show, the more money they will make.
This past year, Mohawk Place and Club Infinity closed. Losing these venues lowered the morale of the scene. Xtreme Wheels is also no longer partaking in their partnership with After Dark. After the loss of these venues, The Waiting Room emerged on Delaware Avenue in downtown Buffalo in April.
"I think that the scene is making positive strides lately with the new venue and bands like My City, My Secret getting national attention," said Rick Kielma, guitarist for The Creator, The Architect. "My City and Dennis Ferry from After Dark are helping the other locals form connections with touring bands and more fans."
As a frequent attendee of local shows, it's likely that faces will become more familiar with each visit to Broadway Joes or The Waiting Room. These people become close to one another and start interacting outside of shows. It's common to hear people speak of the Buffalo music scene as a family. James "Peach" Kociencki, bassist from The Creator, The Architect, is currently serving in the military and has been able to reflect on the music scene with the time away.
"There are certain bands and groups of people that make others feel welcome and want to attend shows, and then there's some people who speak negatively about certain bands or people because they aren't heavy enough for them," Kociencki said in an email. "Family is welcoming no matter what, and right now, the scene is a little divided."
My City, My Secret, a local band that has worked with Caleb Shomo of Beartooth and Attack Attack! and is managed by Shawn Spann of I, The Breather, is one of the bands consistently mentioned. They landed a feature in "The Bands You Need To Know" section in Alternative Press magazine this month and have received both positive and negative responses from people in the music scene. Regardless of how they're received, My City, My Secret continues their positive outlook on their music and in interactions with their fans.
"Our main goal is giving back to the city that built us," said bassist Eddie Fibich. "We've been fighting since day one to get the scene back on the map and we take the time to befriend other locals. Buffalo has a ton of untapped talent and we want to help in any way we can to restore the scene to its former glory."
Any family has times of falling out and disagreement, and the music scene family is no different. Fights break out in mosh pits, and Facebook disagreements litter newsfeeds, but these people aren't disbanding from the family; some band members prefer having constructive criticism while others believe there is a line that shouldn't be crossed.
"Everyone has different tastes and that's fine, but if someone is hindering the scene with negativity, they need to get the hell out," Kociencki said. "Not everyone likes the same music but bashing certain genres is childish."
Ridley embraces any and all of the hate his band receives. At practice, he asks everyone there if they've heard anything negative so that they can prove those people wrong while improving their sound and stage presence.
"When show goers and other local bands doubt us, it gives us motivation to prove them wrong," Ridley said. "Every band wants to prove themselves as worthy to the music scene and when people start telling you, 'wow, you guys killed it tonight,' that's the best feeling."
A Breath Alive has the same outlook on hate as My City, My Secret. Hate creates buzz that gets a band recognized. AJ Fibich, guitarist of the band, helps other bands with song writing and recording. He, like his brother, believes in giving back to Buffalo and supports any band that he can.
With the different genres and subgenres in Buffalo, competition becomes fierce. For After Dark shows, there are normally one to three slots for local bands on national tours. The bands let the company know they're interested in playing and try to keep the lines of communication honest and open with After Dark. There is a large group of hardcore/metalcore tours that stop in Buffalo, and a handful of locals strive to fill those opening slots. Deathcore locals A Future Corrupt take a slot when heavier acts come to Buffalo.
"As one of the few deathcore bands in Buffalo, it takes a lot of hard work to gain respect," said vocalist Ethan Fingold. "You aren't just king of the scene because you're playing heavier music. I put my heart into A Future Corrupt and always ask for advice to improve our sound and appeal."
Music producer Nick Borgosz, owner of World of Noise recording studio in Cheektowaga, relies on local musicians to keep his business successful. Without local bands, there is no need for a recording studio. He has seen egos flare and one-track minds within many of the bands and amongst show goers. These mindsets deter people from joining the scene, he said.
"I'd like to see new people entering the scene with an open mind and to truly enjoy what is happening in front of them on that stage," Borgosz said. "Most of the bands in this scene are giving their all to try to make it big and deserve more appreciation."
Local band members, for the most part, enjoy meeting new people and fans. The music scene is a huge part of their lives and adding people to the dysfunctional family keeps the scene alive and interesting. Any support is crucial to all aspects of music in Buffalo.
Without people, there is no scene. Tony Avino, vocalist of The Creator, The Architect, reaches out to people on social media and at shows. He can be seen at the merchandise tables one minute promoting a new shirt design and hugging strangers the next.
"As a show goer, it's important to try new things and be aware of all that Buffalo has to offer musically," Avino said. "Give that hardcore or indie band a chance for the $10-14 it costs to get into a show and you'll find music and friendship."
A quick metro ride downtown opens a whole new world of arts and music.
"An open mind is crucial to the scene, both with experimenting with your own music as a band and being open to different genres and people," Sallee said. "Don't allow others' opinions make you hate something without experiencing it for yourself."
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