Worth the wait

The Band Perry rewards fans with performance despite chilly temperatures

10...9...8...People were screaming...7...6...5...Hands flew into the air holding signs that begged to be read...4...3...2...the back wall illuminated with images and flashing lights...1...The Band Perry slammed its first guitar notes of the evening.

Friday evening, country fans gathered in the Alumni Arena parking lot for UB's 2014 Spring Fest. Fans showed their excitement by enduring a 46-degree bitter cold and a threat of rain that hung in the air all evening; no one was concerned.

People slowly trickled into the event as the doors opened at 5 p.m. But, in contrast to previous fests, the line was small enough that it failed to reach the end of the queuing barriers.

The audience filled to approximately 2,500 people, according to SA Entertainment Coordinator Marc Rosenblitt. The Alumni Arena parking lot can hold 9,500. The official numbers for attendance are not yet available.

"Country music makes us a family," lead singer Kimberly Perry, of The Band Perry, told the audience.

And no matter the size of the crowd, The Band Perry was there to put on a performance. The group didn't just play its music - it performed for its family.

The band's set took fans through various paces over the course of the evening. The constant shuffling between fast- to slow-paced melodies can be confusing, but that wasn't the outcome Friday. They incorporated a fiddle, mandolin and synthesizer into their set and balanced the instruments with precision and no perplexity. The Band Perry knew what it was doing.

Jillian Devine, a freshman occupational therapy major, was impressed by the energetic dimensionality of the set.

"I thought The Band Perry put on such a good show," Devine said. "They were really fun and engaging."

The band played its well-known hits alongside covers of Ke$ha's "Timber" and Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls," which got audience members swinging their partners around and singing along with the popular lyrics.

And though the pace of The Band Perry's set was one of energy and undiluted fun, it gave its audience a break to regain their breath as the band brought the American flag to the middle of the stage and sang The Star-Spangled Banner, encouraging fans to join in. The same pace was felt when "Amazing Grace" shortly followed.

While the band's faster songs gave the audience necessary energy boosts and time to dance, slower songs offered a chance to witness the epitome of the Perry family's vocal talent. The notes were strong and unwavering and lead singer Kimberly Perry reached a variety of notes with confident power.

Audience interaction was a big deal for The Band Perry. Throughout their show, the members spoke to the audience, thanked them for enduring the cold and got them involved as much as they could.

At one point in the set, mandolin/accordion player and background vocalist Neil Perry took a video camera from a cameraman and panned it across the audience - deflecting the attention away from themselves onto those who had come to see them. He zoomed in on signs and excited fans, talking to them as he did so, before returning back to the music.

"I got to go backstage and meet them - so that was pretty sweet!" said Sarah Iorfida, a junior legal studies major. "They were super stoked about [being in Buffalo]."

And the appreciation was reciprocated. When The Band Perry began to play their encore, "If I Die Young," the members stopped singing and listened as the crowd sung their lyrics back to them with no guidance and no asking.

Before they walked off stage for the final time, they asked the front rows of the audience if they could take an Instagram picture of them. The question came after a large group of fans raised signs above their heads that read "Started From The Bottom Now You're HERE!" - referring to the band's long road into fame.

The abundance of musical talent that filled the parking lot Friday was of high standard. From the diversity of instruments played, to the range of vocal notes, each artist to grace the stage treated UB with an evening of real aptitude.

The Michael King Project showcased some of Buffalo's homegrown talent as the first opener. With King's roots very much planted in the UB community - his musical journey flourished when he led the Buffalo Chips to Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts in New York City as their director - King seemed thrilled to be back.

King's powerful, soul-like voice was complemented by an eclectic and well-put-together instrumental setup including a standard keyboard, bass and lead guitar that was lifted by the fun incorporation of the sounds of a saxophone and bongos.

Despite King's early start time - around 5:45 p.m. - the crowd on hand began to warm up, dancing to his jazzy renditions of Kanye West's "Gold Digger" and Blackstreet's "No Diggity." UB's current Buffalo Chips members accompanied both songs.

The support for UB didn't end when King left the stage - Citizen Cope asked the crowd in the middle of his husky acoustic set who the No. 1 draft pick was going to be next Thursday, to which the crowd confidently shouted back, "Khalil Mack."

As Gloriana, the second-to-last band, performed its perfectly tuned and harmony-filled set, the members wore UB apparel. Tom Gossin, the band's lead vocalist and guitarist, wore a hoodie with "BUFFALO" emblazoned across the chest.

"They told me you guys were going to be f**king crazy, and you are," Gossin screamed. "I love you."

Gloriana proved to UB it knew music - from the talk box that allowed Mike Gossin, Tom's brother and accompanying vocalist and guitarist, to pitch and play his guitar using his vocal chords, to the crisp harmonies that were showcased in nearly all of the group's songs.

Contrary to the popular opinions prevalent at the end of the night, that the evening was a success, there were still some who thought more could have been offered.

Jeffery Kwiatkowski, a senior marketing major, commented on the size of the event. He recognized the need for a bigger crowd at such events.

"If you want to get a country band at UB, you have to get a better country band than The Band Perry," Kwiatkowski said. "The Band Perry were good, but you've got to get someone who's going to draw more people."

Despite the smaller crowd than previous years and the abundance of negative responses that were received in response to the line-up announcement, the evening offered the audience a taste of something different.

The student fans left with smiling faces and country memories that UB had never given them before.

email: arts@ubspectrum.com