The 17th annual Music Is Art Festival takes over the grounds of Buffalo RiverWorks and the adjacent River Fest Park beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday.
More than 150 bands, 140 DJs, 50 exhibiting artists and live artists, and assorted dancers and dance troupes spread across 21 stages and various performances spaces will represent what founder and Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac calls MIA’s “hugely expanded footprint” this year – which, like every year previous, is being presented free of admission charge.
MIA can be overwhelming in the best sense of the word – as in, there’s so much happening at once that you might not know where to focus your attention, for fear of missing something equally awesome on another stage in another of the many wrinkles and around of the many corners spanning the RiverWorks and River Fest Park space.
Be sure to grab your handy festival guide at the gate as you enter. Here’s a breakdown of events and stages you don’t want to miss Saturday:
The Terrapin Village @ MIA
The sizable jam-loving portion of the Buffalo music community is being rewarded for its loyalty this year, with the arrival of the Terrapin Village stage – the first time this music has been given a space to present a full roster of its own.
Between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m., the music will indeed never stop, with artists performing on the hour, among them the likes of Captain Trips, Joe Bellanti, Maria Konter Krawczyk, the Grateful Dans, Eric Crittenden’s Dead.Phish.Phunk, David Wasik, Deadwolf and more. Check the Terrapin Village schedule here.
The Magic Carpet Ride Stage
You can hop on a Tiki Boat to cross the Buffalo River, or simply hoof it across the Michigan Avenue Bridge, to access the Magic Carpet Ride stage in River Fest Park, where you’ll be treated to a low-key psychedelia-themed roster of bands, artists and dancers along the river, and in full view of the happenings over at RiverWorks.
The whole schedule looks enticing, but I’m particularly focused on the 8 p.m. hour, when the Space Jam Orchestra kicks into its set, which will be followed by the beautifully pummeling Buffalo Motörhead tribute, Iron Fist.
Japanese Power-Pop trio Shonen Knife has become a staple of the MIA Festival over the years, and it’s not too tough to ascertain why – these ladies blend the sunny sincerity of '60s pop with the gritty growl of garage rock. They’ll take over the Main Stage at 8:15 p.m.
Mom Said No
If you caught them during the Cobblestone Live! Festival this year, you know that Mom Said No is poised to break out of Buffalo at some point in the not-so-distant future, so easy to love is its affable blend of alt-rock intensity, indie-rock edge and boy-band imagery. Catch 'em while you can – at 9 p.m. on the Main Stage.
[Related: Why Mom Said No stuck out at Cobblestone Live]
The perfect capper to an MIA Festival, Green Jello’s theater-punk throwdowns underscore the “Keep Buffalo weird” ethic that has always been a part of the MiA ethos.
Let frontman Bill Manspeaker remind you that, of the many things our music and arts scene has gifted the world, outrageous avant garde-isms have always been a part of the mix, from Mark Freeland to Rabbit Jaw and back again. The band plays the Sideshow Stage at 10 p.m.
A full schedule of performances can be found here.