Music is Art enlivens Delaware Park

Free festival brings unusual blend of live music and unexpected art


A performer disguised as a 10-foot-tall woman from another dimension explained that her apparatus and makeup aren’t “supposed to make sense.”

Her enigmatic costume and explanation summed up the exceptional charm and odd atmosphere of the 12th annual Music is Art Festival at Delaware Park Saturday. Robby Takac, bassist for the buffalo-native Goo Goo Dolls, founded the festival in 2003. He is currently the president of the Music is Art Board of Directors.

The festival aims to promote creativity in Western New York.

“We’ve always kept this event free for the people,” Takac said, drawing cheers from the crowd.

To dismiss the festival as purely a couple of strange performers would overlook the more than 100 bands, eight stages and a seemingly endless amount of food trucks and art stands that fill the festival annually. It attracted a wide variety of attendees, drawing dancers in gorilla masks or kilts and families with young children.

Many local bands took the stage, as did Shonen Knife, a band from Osaka, Japan that has a history with Buffalo – the band even filmed a DVD of a Queen City performance in 2009.

Shonen Knife headlined the mainstage Saturday night. The Japanese all-girl pop-punk trio emerged from a limo, greeted by applause from the crowd. The band performed a blend of the Ramones, ’90s alternative and pop music.

DJs, dance groups, poets and artists were also featured. On some stages, there were painters who continued to work on their pieces as the bands were playing. Two paintings on the main stage were continuously worked on throughout the day.

The festival offered a variety of food carts accompanied by tents filled with paintings, jewelry and other crafts. One tent was selling handmade cigar box guitars – a guitar with a body made like a cigar box.

“I’ve had a good time,” said Jake Bortle, a senior political science major. “It’s free, so you really can’t go wrong and there’s definitely more than enough here to keep you entertained for a while.”

The event is like Buffalo’s own – albeit smaller scale – Bonnaroo. Music is Art, the nonprofit that runs the festival, aims to reshape music’s cultural, social and educational impact on the community, according to its website.

“The festival – and Music is Art as a whole – survives because of the people who show up and support it,” Tracy Shattuck, executive director of the organization, told The Buffalo News. “They know that it’s more than just a festival – they understand that there is a community connection to what we do.”