Getting cute at The Riv (2009)

Cute

Since forming in 2005, Buffalo’s own power-pop quartet Cute Is What We Aim For has been living life to the fullest. They’ve released two full-length albums, endured various lineup changes and maintained a rigorous touring schedule that included a headlining spot on the 2007 Vans Warped Tour.

If that wasn’t enough, they were also named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 10 Artists to Watch, which is a lofty paradigm for any band to live up to, let alone one that is barely out of their teens.

Yes, vocalist Shaant Hacikyan, guitarist Jeff Czum, bassist Dave Melillo and drummer Michael Lasaponara are only in their early twenties, but that hasn’t stopped them from establishing a devout fan base that seems to get larger with each passing day. Their music is designed to speak to people of all ages yet Hacikyan still acknowledges the inevitable connection that will be made between his words and the plight of teenagers the world over.

“I try to be as sincere, real and blunt as I can” said Hacikyan, a graduate of Williamsville North, during a recent interview. “I know what high school is like and I just want kids to know that they can be themselves. You have to be you. That’s all.”

Hacikyan’s awareness of the difficulties faced by high-schoolers stems from his own experience with self-doubt and he encourages everyone to avoid falling into the same trap.

“I set out to be positive and have always urged people to not let others take advantage of them, because that’s completely wrong” says Hacikyan.

It’s that charisma and genuine concern for fans that has gotten the group to where they are today and the commercial success doesn’t appear to ending anytime soon.

In June 2008, their second album “Rotation” debuted at #21 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart and they are currently hard at work on their third studio release from which a demo titled “Catch 22” has already surfaced on the Internet.

Unlike many bands, Cute has not forgotten their roots and never passes up an opportunity to play in front of a home crowd.

On Friday, August 7, the band will make their triumphant return to Western New York for a one night only performance at The Historic Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda. With Grand Island natives and Music is Art Battle of the Bands winners Inlite supporting, it promises to be an energetic evening in the Lumber City.

“The guys came to the theatre and immediately fell in love with the place” says theatre director Frank Cannata. “They wanted to do something special while on break for the summer, so all the proceeds collected from this event are going directly to the theatre.”

Cannata also says “we’re close to having a full house,” so the band can expect nothing less than a warm welcome upon their arrival.

As far as what the attendees can expect, they can count on a setlist featuring tracks from both albums in addition to whatever new material the band might test out along the way. Hacikyan admits that their early stage shows were disorganized, but this time around he promises a level of maturity that most critics don’t expect.

“I think this time we’ve stepped it up. We’ve figured out what we want to do and how to do it” says Hacikyan.

For fans, that newfound confidence couldn’t be a better omen.

Tickets: $15; VIP, $30

For further information, call the Riviera Theatre Box Office at 692-2413 Wed. – Fri., 10 am-4 pm or order online atwww.rivieratheatre.org.

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