Shaant Hacikyan, lead singer of newbie teen idols Cute Is What We Aim For, has done something unprecedented in rock history. He's made the comb-over sexy.
It's hard separating one band from the next in the teeming emo crowd; the Buffalo quartet's matinee set at the 9:30 club didn't attempt anything musically or lyrically profound with its tales of imperfect relationships over power-pop guitar chords. There was nothing for an adult-rock audience to appreciate other than really short beer lines.
But the Cutesies do have Hacikyan's hair, which is unquestionably the focal point of the band's teen-idolness. While flipping through the group's debut record, "The Same Old Blood Rush With a New Touch," Hacikyan wiped his wild auburn mane over his eyes and in front of his face every few seconds, always with great drama.
Unlike with the typical rock star over-'do, however, Hacikyan's part started somewhere well behind the left ear. Big hair can be, as David Lee Roth knows too well, as fleeting as pop stardom, and that to-the-rear part indicates Hacikyan will be wearing Kenny Chesney's cowboy hat by the time most of CIWWAF's fans are in college. But on this night, his shtick hit home with the hordes of teenage girls who sold out the city's premier rock club and screamed with every flip of the locks.
During "Teasing to Please" a girl in the balcony was so overcome by the act that she began bawling, calming down only when two gal pals came over to hug it out. Hacikyan appeared flummoxed by the worship, oddly thanking the band's producer, Matt Squire, throughout the show for their success. Lost in all the flipping was drummer Tom Falcone's pounding out the 4/4 beats like a heavyweight, and bassist Jack Marin's collection of stellar stage moves, including a flying karate kick that would scare Chuck Norris.
The show ended when members of opening act All Time Low joined CIWWAF for a cover of "Dammit" by Blink-182. But Hacikyan left for the wings during the closer, taking his hair and the crowd's attention with him.
-- Dave McKenna