An early evening drizzle failed to dampen the spirits of a young and gleeful crowd at the Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf Thursday night, as Buffalo Place's free Thursday at the Harbor concert series entered the second half of its 12-week schedule with a three-band bill led by California quintet Young the Giant, which served up enough sunshine to overcome the cloud cover.
The rain may have ruined the chance of repeating last week's scene for Seether, when the crowd packed a space from the stage back to the Buffalo River's edge, but overcoming the loss of bodies was a wide and wildly receptive throng up front that swelled enough for Young the Giant to allow for some wide-eyed riding of the crowd. Early on, though, the scene was sparse as Nashville sextet Apache Relay opened the evening before an attentive audience, mostly close to the stage, which they won over with a warm brand of commune rock -- shared instruments, group-shouted choruses, and the kind of urgent, jittery jumping that reveals a band committed to the moment.
Frontman Michael Ford Jr. and Kellen Wenrich took turns playing a bass they'd reportedly bought at Guitar Center on Niagara Falls Boulevard earlier in the day. Wenrich otherwise mostly fiddled, at times along with Ford's falsetto, as they shifted from slow, Southern soul to stomp rock with ease. They seemed comfortable with the audience they'd earned as they closed with the ensemble song, "Home is Not Places."
As the light rain continued, Torontonian enigma Afie Jurvanen, aka Bahamas, made his Buffalo debut with a strangely engaging and truly unique set. He was aided by the sparse sound created by his backing trio of two female singers and and a drummer with a minimalist five-piece kit, winning the growing crowd like a guy who's invited over for dinner and winds up crashing on the couch for a couple weeks, seeming a bit creepy but fun to have around.
Young the Giant showed how to make sunshine in sound from their opening cut, "I Got" -- happy chords and uplifting progressions from the upper end of the fretboard of dual guitarists Jacob Tilley and Eric Cannata; soaring vocals from Sameer Gadhia, and a solid bounce in the rhythm of bassist Payam Doostzadeh and drummer Francois Comtois.
Gadhia gave intense energy throughout, singing to the heavens from the depths of his diaphragm while hopping around with a tambourine, looping and echoing his vocals through multiple mics and an effects board, and occasionally playing keyboards.
From the suburban blues of their big hit "Cough Syrup" to the big bounce of "Teachers" and mellow groove of "Camera," they owned the rabid crowd throughout, going for broke with closer "St. Walker."
Without question, Young the Giant laid bare their ability to maintain momentum as they soon huddle up to make their sophomore album.
Thursday at the Harbor with Young the Giant †††
WHEN: Thursday evening †††
WHERE: Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf †††