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Standard of Living headlines a great show

If you haven't heard of Sailing to Rome, Mandy K, Tonight the Riot, Sleepaway, or Standard of Living, then you're missing five of the best things about living in Buffalo. Last Saturday, these local bands played a phenomenal four-hour show at the Icon, proving exactly how diverse and promising the local music scene can be.

The show opened with Sailing to Rome, a local hardcore act strongly reminiscent of Ontario's screamo mainstay, Silverstein. While numbers like "Red Head" and "An Outline for Reason" show enormous potential, the Icon's acoustics are ill-suited for screaming, and the songs were often difficult to understand. It also didn't help that much of the audience seemed to belong to a different musical demographic -- a demographic that was eagerly anticipating the comfortable, power-pop anthems of second act Mandy K.

Mandy K is a band essentially defined by their youth, and their songs, while certainly not ground-breaking, all echo with that kind of charisma and energy that you just have to dance to. The crowd rallied to songs like "Count Me Out", "Shotgun", and "Sunflower," with its catchy chorus and sappily cute lyrics. The band closed on a high note with "Misinterpretation," before Tonight the Riot took the stage.

While they certainly lacked none of Mandy K's energy, the much-pierced and tattooed Tonight the Riot was something of a shock after their pop rock openers. Their first song, "Walk With a Whisper," reverberated with an edgy intensity that continued throughout the set -- songs like "Second Story Jumper" and "Everyone's Waiting" even inspired short-lived mosh pits in the center of the crowd. Tonight the Riot saved their best number for last, however, and the much-applauded new track "That Kid's a Hood" promises that we'll be seeing more of them in the future.

The same cannot be said of Sleepaway, a local favorite that broke up several months ago. The band claimed that this will be their last official show, but if you missed it you shouldn't worry; personally, I'd prefer to remember them the way they sound on CD. From the very start of the set, Sleepaway battled some serious acoustic and feedback problems, which made their songs sound unbalanced and awkward. "Best Unspoken" was particularly problematic, though Sleepaway almost redeemed themselves with "What Are You Gonna Say When I Call You" and "Something of a Saturday." Their last song, "Sorry I Never Bought You a Car or Took You to Vegas," prompted singing from the crowd and a lengthy round of applause; the band will certainly be missed, though admittedly not for sets like this one.

By this point it was after 9, and while fans might have lost interest at any other show, no one was leaving the Icon quite yet. If they had, they would have missed Standard of Living, quite possibly Buffalo's best unsigned band. With a refined, piano-driven sound comparable to an East Coast Something Corporate, Standard of Living makes the kind of music that you can adore at a show and then still play for your parents on the drive back home. Every song is addictive, and every word from Josh Rabenold's lips is perfectly written and sung; in fact, I can't praise songs like "The Drive," "You Change Like Seasons" or "Autumn in Amherst" -- with its amazing three-part harmony -- enough. Unsurprisingly, every song drew loud applause from the crowd. If you see any local bands in the coming year, make sure Standard of Living is one of them.

Caitlin Dewey is a senior at Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart.

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