Alt Buffalo’s “You Saw Them First” hits the Waiting Room

By Becca Hartman

Features Contributor

Ever since radio station 107.7 started hitting the local airwaves as Alternative Buffalo, the city’s alternative music scene has increased significantly. Our local artistic subculture has grown within the past yea

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Pictured above are the members of  New Beat Fund

rs as bands like Young the Giant and Fitz and the Tantrums play free shows at Canalside, and Alt Buffalo’s  “You Saw Them First” series has served up opportunities for lesser-known artists to play here year-round. On February 26, New Beat Fund played a sold-out show at the Waiting Room’s main stage with fellow indie group Marian Hill, opened by two local artists.

The first opener was Daniel Robinson, a solo artist whose instruments consisted of a guitar and a Macbook. He played a total of five beat-heavy songs, closing with a cover of Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean,” while drinking a can of PBR and trying to hype up a less than enthusiastic audience. Following Robinson was local band Darling Harbor, a four-piece rock group that seemed to significantly impress the crowd. The band is named after the harbor outside Sydney, Australia where singer Ben Uytiepo lived for several years, and their energy was reminiscent of the ocean itself: high-paced, wild, and energetic. “We’re gonna do one song that we’ve never performed before,” Uytiepo said mid-set, laughing to himself after conferring with the other members. “We’ve never done this for other people.” It would’ve been impossible to tell had he not said this; the song went off without a hitch, as did the rest of the set, and they concluded to loud applause from the audience. “They were so good,” a girl next to me in the crowd whispered reverently.   Darling Harbor plays shows throughout Buffalo, and their next one is March 12 at Mr. Goodbar on Elmwood. If you’re looking to start supporting the local music scene, they’re definitely the first band you should check out.

Following this set was my personal favorite band, and the reason I attended this show, New Beat Fund. I had been lucky enough to meet them at an acoustic session sponsored by Alt Buffalo earlier in the day—at the Ninth Ward at Babeville, home of Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records right across from the Waiting Room—and I couldn’t wait to see a full-powered set. New Beat Fund is singer Jeffrey “Burnie Baker” Laliberte, bassist Paul “Snapz” Laliberte, drummer Michael “Silky” Johnson, and guitarist Shelby “Button” Archer, four extremely cool and down-to-earth guys from Los Angeles, California. They define their sound as “g-punk” and cite their influences as including Blink-182 and Sublime. There’s a relaxed, Cali vibe to everything they do; at the 107.7 acoustic session earlier, Burnie broke the microphone stand within the first song. With a laugh and self-deprecating shake of his head, he said, “In New Beat Fund style, we’re breaking everything.”

Their opening song was “Bako Dozo,” a song that saw Burnie—wearing a handmade shirt that read “Too Hip” scrawled in permanent marker—at the front of the stage yelling the chorus with the front row. Both Laliberte brothers had an infectious energy through the entire show that could only come from playing in a band with a sibling. They jumped around, playing off each other, never missing a beat for the entire hour-long set. A cover of Rae Sremmurd’s R&B hit “No Type” had them laughing over their instruments at each other from across the stage; it was a type of happiness that infected the entire audience, fan or not. Most members of the crowd were there for Marian Hil, judging by the lack of singing along, and weren’t entirely sure to whom they were listening. Despite this, all four members of the band were clearly having the time of their lives. “We are New Beat Fund, and our favorite food is guacamole,” Burnie said by way of introduction, smiling at the crowd. He proceeded to list other enjoyable California activities, to the amusement of the audience, before launching into a softer song, “Halloween Birthdaze.” To close the show, the band played their single, “Sikka Takin’ the Hard Way.” This song gets frequent airplay on Alt Buffalo, and its uplifting message was perfect for closing the set. “My music don’t make money and my record deal’s gone,” the first verse goes, “but life is a party and I’m partying on.”

For a band that wasn’t even headlining the show, New Beat Fund made a solid impression on the audience. They’re hoping to return to play Canalside or another Alt Buffalo show over the summer—when temperatures aren’t reaching sub-zero—so it’s safe to say the local audience made an impression. Alt Buffalo’s next “You Saw Them First” concert is March 11 featuring The Heavy. The alternative music scene in Buffalo is rapidly picking up, and it’s not something to be missed.

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