For decades, the idea of the holiday season has been molded by the sound of such snow-covered favorites as Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, John Denver – and maybe the Muppets.
Will the music of Friday night’s Alternative Buffalo-produced Kerfuffle before Christmas ever replace the aforementioned? Probably not. But with electric performances by the likes of Matt and Kim, Third Eye Blind and the wailing up-and-comers Wolf Alice, those who packed the house at downtown’s First Niagara Center will certainly have some sleigh bell-free tunes reverberating through their heads for the rest of the holiday season.
In its second iteration of its wintertime extravaganza, Buffalo’s alt-rock radio newcomers rolled out another eclectic lineup, with the previously noted trio joining the likes of regularly rotated SomeKindofWonderful, Borns and the night’s headliner, Sublime with Rome. And though none busted out reverb- or boat horn-accented versions of “Auld Lange Syne,” the night was no less festive, be it with the Long Beach snarl of Sublime or the Red Bull-soaked spectacular of Matt and Kim.
Now fronted by Rome Ramirez, the skate-punk headliners gave those fiending for the hits of past Sublime leader Brad Nowell plenty to feast on, with past hazy gems like “Wrong Way,” “Doin Time” and “What I Got,” awakening memories of the late frontman.
Unfortunately for Ramirez and Co., they followed a turbocharged Matt and Kim, who pulled out all the stops to top their summer’s confetti-strewn Canalside show.
“I’m a competitive person,” shouted drummer Kim Schifino mid-performance. “So tonight, it’s that show versus this show.”
DMX and R. Kelly covers. Crowd surfing. Tossed bras, bouncing tracks like “Hey Now” and “Get It” and a massive balloon drop during its finale of “It’s Alright.” The Brooklyn duo didn’t stray from its frenetic formula, and it sent Santa Claus-capped fans into delirium for much of its throbbing 45-minute set.
But before attendees could be swept up in Sublime nostalgia and the balloon-bombarded mayhem of Matt and Kim, the evening officially found its legs atop the generational gap of North London newbies Wolf Alice and California hitmakers Third Eye Blind.
With Alice’s Ellie Rowsell – clad in a T-shirt repping Buffalo’s own Made Violent – locals were treated to nothing less than a power-packed band on the rise, with tracks like “Giant Peach” equipped with the throttle of “Gish”-era Smashing Pumpkins; and offerings like “Moaning Lisa Smile” and Vevo favorite “Bros” evoking memories of underrated grunge-period heroines like Juliana Hatfield.
And these ’90s echoes were the perfect lead-in for the Stephen Jenkins-led Blind, whose past catalog – judging by thousands of singing fans – hasn’t aged a bit.
The reconfigured San Francisco quintet wedged solid tracks off new album “Dopamine” between still-addictive hits like “Semi-Charmed Life” and “Jumper.”
On the latter, Dublin, Ireland-born guitarist Kryz Reid was tasked with delivering the song’s signature picked loop aside longtime drummer Brad Hargreaves’ militaristic percussion.
The tune still plays well, now to a new generation of fans.
Early arrivals to the night’s festivities were treated with twin 20-minute sets by fellow Rust Belt brethren SomeKindaWonderful and the lanky, hirsute dance rock of Borns.
The Cleveland-bred Wonderful opened up the evening, unleashing its updated brand of R&B-flavored emo for the loyal “Butterfly Militia” fan base. Led by impassioned frontman Jordy Towers, the group put a spotlighted exclamation point on its performance with the morose thump of hit single, “Reverse.”
As for Michigan-raised Borns, the shimmering quintet provided a stylish sonic launch pad to the night’s final four. Led by the voice and glittery vibe of Garrett Borns, the act harmoniously melded echoes of Jeff Buckley with the pulse of Passion Pit behind tracks like wailing opener “10,000 Emerald Pools” and its fuzz-laden radio hit, “Electric Light.”