Buffalo has always had an incredible local music scene. Throughout the week, bars, clubs and theatres are packed with local artists playing music of every style and genre. Whatever you’re looking for, Buffalo has it. Among the most interesting groups playing shows in the city are the up and coming bands, steadily building fan bases and defining their sound. One such band is Johnny and the Man Kids, led by Johnny Marciniak and featuring Canisius’ own Alex Bogart.
The group started playing together five years ago in high school. Johnny, Alex, Tyler and Andy formed the band to compete in a local Battle of the Bands competition. Then, they were known as the Spaghetti Boys, a name that was unfortunately trademarked by Nike. They renamed themselves The Pepperoni Boys, but this was already taken by another band. Finally, they went with Johnny and the Man Kids, a name chosen by a Twitter poll that their friends voted in.
Before the group formed, Johnny and his brother Tyler would “play band,” on their own for fun. When the opportunity came, they decided “why not make it a real thing?” They called on Alex to play drums and Andy to play rhythm guitar. Tyler played bass and Johnny would sing lead vocals and play guitar.
Alex described their style of music as “Garage Pop,” a more polished version of the garage rock they played as the Spaghetti Boys. The day of that first Battle of the Bands was the first time the group had played together, choosing to do a cover of The Who. “We sounded good,” Alex said. “…I think,” he added, smiling. They didn’t win the competition, but they’re still here playing.
The group immediately jumped into playing shows in front of live audiences in the city. They started at the Forum before it closed and gigged around at other venues, still in high school and a bit intimidated by the opportunity. “It was definitely weird,” Alex said. “When we started I’d be playing like Mohawk Place shows as a fifteen-year-old.” Since then, they’ve only gotten better, more “musical,” as Alex described, all the while becoming a part of the local music scene, building inroads and growing the community.
Being a part of the community was the result of playing as many shows as possible, even ones where they didn’t necessarily fit in. But this exposed them to the diversity of the Buffalo music scene. They’ve played with similar bands with similar sounds, but have even been on the bill with punk, metal, funk, pop and jam bands, making connections and friendships every step of the way. It’s evidence of Buffalo’s amazing scene that only improves through the organic mixing of each of these sounds.
Johnny and the Man Kids have started focusing on creating inter-genre connections, joining up with other like-minded bands and musicians. They’ve played with The Burkharts and have recorded with RJ DeMarco of Fernway, two amazing local bands. You can find groups like theirs, along with so many others, playing at great local venues like Mohawk Place, The Rec Room and even The Town Ballroom. There are amazing shows, like the Rec Room’s Live Karaoke, taking place all over the city that feature the best bands Buffalo has to offer.
Outside of live shows, The Man Kids have also stepped into the studio. Their newest EP, You Made Me Hurt, was released last summer, and more singles and another EP are on the way. Alex described the band’s time in the studio as an interesting and challenging change of pace. It’s about getting everything right in one perfect take, but still maintaining the same energy their fans have come to love. “We want to sound as refined as possible but also kind of not–organically refined,” he said. You can expect new music soon, but the group will always be killing it at live shows.
“I love playing live shows,” Alex said. “Everyone’s energy is always better live.” Alex feels the studio can be a bit constraining, but playing live allows for the looseness and creativity that make music so much fun. The group is allowed to be themselves more, mess around, laugh and enjoy the music they’re playing as well as the energy of the crowd they’re playing to. It’s a feeling that’s only grown since the group has been writing and performing original music. “It’s interesting to play your music on stage,” Alex said. “When you screw up, nobody notices. Except for your band,” he added, laughing.
Johnny and the Man Kids are always playing in Buffalo and even organize their own shows, like Tyler’s Birthday Bash, a show that celebrates bass player Tyler’s birthday that conveniently falls near the band’s anniversary. The group even has a small tour planned out over the summer, hitting cities like Syracuse, Rochester, Philadelphia and Long Island. You can find them all over social media with a quick search of the band’s name, and on Spotify and Apple Music. Be sure to check them out live and support the local music scene here in Buffalo. Johnny and the Man Kids are just one fantastic example of what this city has to offer.