Since its arrival more than two years ago, the Buffalo Icon is a small venue that draws big crowds to see a range of both national and local bands.
What used to be a nightclub is now a place where bands can get their music out there. It is owned by Tom Kwiecien and Steve Zambito but run in partnership with Damon Bodine. Bodine is the head promoter whose job also includes arranging dates and getting everyone on the same page. He says: "We do everything from e-mail blasts, to ArtVoice ads, to fliers, to live announcements. Basically anything and everything to try and spread the word." He believes that his goal as a promoter is to "give the bands the absolute and best show" that he can. He explains that the benefits of working for the Icon is that he has the freedom to make his own schedule.
Bodine says as a kid he used to go to many shows like the ones that he now books. "Now I'm the person behind the scenes, putting them together. It's a lot of fun."
The Icon does not seem to target a specific demographic, booking all types of bands, from rap to county to rock. When you go to a show there, you see people of all ages, kids to older adults. "It's the nature of the music that certain types of bands are going to make more of an impact on a particular group of music listeners -- there is enough of a variety at the club to appeal to almost any music fan," says Bodine.
"The really interesting thing about this is that we get to make a lot of choices as far as what bands we bring in," says Bodine. Bands reach out to the venue through phone, e-mail, MySpace.com etc. The Icon is looking for bands that are hardworking, believe in themselves and can bring something to the venue. "We try to give everyone a shot one way or another," he said.
Many bands such as Fear Before The March of Flames, Paramore, Gym Class Heroes, HeavyHeavyLowLow and our local hometown band, Cute Is What We Aim For, have performed there. Damon could not choose his favorite act but simply said that every act brings something new and unexpected, so it is always a good time for him.
The Icon is small, and the fact that there are no barricades between the stage and the fans creates more of an intimate performance. You feel as if you are right on stage with your favorite band. Bands say that they feel more connected with their fans at smaller venues, as do the fans. Michelle Reese, 15, a sophomore at City Honors, has been to the Icon 16 times. She says: "I like that it's small and you can see the bands from wherever you are." Michelle also says the Icon has a "better stage and a great sound system" that doesn't hurt her ears. The no-barricades factor also appeals to her. "It is easier to meet bands since they are always hanging around." she says. Her favorite acts that she has seen perform there are Saosin and Fear Before The March of Flames. Zak Rappold, a senior at Cheektowaga Central High School, has been to the Icon four times and says he likes the atmosphere and the types of bands they bring. "I like the people and the energy of the crowd. I also like the fact that they have unknown bands as well as well-known bands perform," he says.
Everybody at the venue is very thankful to "everyone who attends the shows, contacts us, and checks out our Web site," says Damon. "It means the world to us to see people leaving with a smile."
Marli Lee-McGarrah is a sophomore at Buffalo Seminary
* The Buffalo Icon is located at 39 Ellicott St. If you would like to get your band booked at the Buffalo Icon or for general information, you can e-mail Damon at email@example.com or call 842-0167.
* Upcoming shows include Beres Hammond (tonight), Standard of Living Saturday and Papa Roach Feb. 19.