"There's no good new music anymore."
Accepted as fact by too many who have aged beyond their favorite bands' heyday, this sentiment is regularly met with conciliatory nods — even though countless young musicians are creating inventive work inspired by these dissenters’ heroes and favored genres.
Validation of this contradiction could be found Saturday at Alternative Buffalo’s sweltering Kerfuffle, the annual Canalside-set music festival that lays the new-music complaints to waste. Need a dash of your favorite '60s pop? There was the bubble-gum bounce of Los Angeles band The Mowgli’s.
Want your hell’s hail of '70s rock and punk guitars? See Glasgow, Scotland’s Franz Ferdinand. And for the synth-accented trance of the Depeche Mode '80s? Pick a band.
[PHOTOS: Smiles at Kerfuffle at Canalside]
First up was indie-electro festival opener Missio. The Austin, Texas, trio wasted no time in thumping sun-drenched early arrivals with the push-button beats of "I Do What I Want" and the Skywalker patriarch vendetta of "KDV (Killing Darth Vader)," served up with digital and conventional percussion.
These adrenaline-laden numbers were buildup to the threesome's one-digit-salute hit, "Middle Fingers"— which in turn earned hoisted birds aside the Buffalo River.
These waving hands then welcomed Kerfuffle vets The Mowgli's. Performers at Canalside in 2015, the Los Angeles sextet brought a more candy-coated sound than its lead-in.
Launching into the jubilant "4 A.M." before the claps and choruses of "Freakin' Me Out" and "Spiderwebs" – both off last year's "Where'd Your Weekend Go?" – the Colin Dieden and Katie Earl-led collective injected the same hook-laden ebullience it unleashed two years ago. Add in hit single "San Francisco" and its set competed with the weather for sunniest performance.
[GALLERY: Kerfuffle 2017 at Canalside]
The transition to inventive multi-instrumental trio Sir Sly provided a merger of style and passion from the previous two acts. Complete with its share of ambient tech forays alongside invigorating Radiohead-esque guitar duels — but not so many to lull attendees into a hypnotized herd — the Landon Jacobs-steered Sly may have gained the most with its Buffalo introduction.
Spacey guitars on new single "Astronaut” or Jacobs’ shirtless pleading on "Altar" left an impression on loyal fans and those who came to see someone else.
For Vancouver's Bob Moses — consisting of vocalist/guitarist Tom Howie, multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Vallance and touring drummer Joe Zizzo — the connection to Sly was more apparent to both the eyes and ears.
With a similar dynamic and sonic direction, the black-clad ensemble thrilled with slow bleeds like "Keeping Me Alive," with Vallance setting the dark mood on keys and Howie matching the vibe with echoing Fender chords. But this morose cut was not the band's trend. "All I Want" bopped with a pulsating club beat; “Grace” galloped along with heart-wrenching lyrics; and the pair was linked by a manic Zizzo drum solo, injecting a percussional defibrillator to the set's midway point.
For Chicago's OK Go, there was no assimilation into the festival's order or flow. Led by Damien Kulash, the band took the stage to Buffalo Sabres favorite DJ Kool's "Let Me Clear My Throat," then proceeded to tear through its stand-alone style of millennial pop rock: genre-bending guitars and keys, and adherence to MTV's past, but with its own amplified stamp. And amid the endless hooks, they gathered the crowd for an Instagram snap.
They delivered it all, whether with Morrissey-like vocals on "The Writing's on the Wall," attendee participation on "This Too Shall Pass" or by calling on the mighty Led Zeppelin for an unexpectedly stellar cover of "Black Dog."
So how do you follow up direct reverence to Zeppelin? You usher in the first-ever Buffalo appearance of Franz Ferdinand, who unleashed its sonic barrage via an unrelenting three-guitar onslaught. Toggling between jangling thump and a straight-ahead attack reminiscent of forthright Black Sabbath, the quintet advanced through the march of cuts like “You Girls” and the salty “Lazy Boy” with precision and power.
And even when measured against a pre-eminent Jimmy Page rocker, the Alex Kapranos-fronted act impressed with a set-long storm, culminating with the strut-inducing cadence of “Take Me Out” before yielding the stage to festival-closing performances by Grouplove and Dashboard Confessional.
Kerfuffle, featuring Dashboard Confessional, Grouplove, Franz Ferdinand and more
Saturday at Canalside