Canisius Griffin: Vintage Rock&Roll Posters Come Back To Life in New Anthology

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Adam Duke
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Put together for archival purposes to document and preserve the history of Buffalo’s punk scene, the book Underground Buffalo Rock Posters: The Continental and Beyond offers a look into the lost art of designing concert advertisements.       

Like automobiles, the Big Mac, furniture, and various household appliances, concert posters just aren’t what they used to be, no matter how cliché that phrase may sound.

Upon inspecting the posters outside of smaller venues in 2018, you will find that a typical show poster is comprised of a computer-designed logo or a photo of the band that will be performing, along with the date and showtime underneath. Somewhat artistic, but nothing like the hand-drawn or cut-and-pasted, mass copied, punk-era posters of the late 1970s through the 90s. Posters of the kind could be seen in stores, venues, and on signs and bulletin boards around Buffalo at the time, specifically down Elmwood Avenue.

Earlier this month, Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac and designers Don Keller and Karl Kotas released a compilation of many of these these Buffalo show posters in the form of “Underground Buffalo Rock Posters.” The compilation was collected from poster artists including Keller and Kotas, as well as band members, who saved copies after plastering them around town.

The book features a foreword by Takac, a poem and illustration by Kotas, posters from over 30 bands, including the Goo Goo Dolls, the Ramones, 10,000 Maniacs, The Fems, Cannibal Corpse, and Famous Blue Raincoat, and over 15 clubs, including The Continental, Goodbar, Jingles, and Uncle Sam’s.

Included in the book is a copy of The Continental’s first flyer, from February of 1980, advertising their grand opening Feb. 6 and 7, with draft beer for 25 cents, mixed drinks for 50 cents, and three shots for a dollar as well as a light show and dancing. “For new wavers, mods, punks & rockers,” said the flyer.

Additionally, there is a poster from a free outdoor concert at Buffalo State College, where Green Jelly, then Green Jell-o, opened for The Ramones in 1985. The advertisement has the band names scratched in with a Sharpie, Green Jell-o filled in solid black and growing from the white box-letter Ramones text, as if Green Jell-o were a tree gaining its roots from The Ramones.

Kotas and candio contributed their designs for The Fems to the book and Keller designed for shows at Adventure Club and The Scrapyard, including multiple Goo Goo Dolls advertisements. Artist David Kane added many designs for the bands Erectronics, Alien Registration and Celibates as well as clubs like The Continental and Goodbar.

Kotas’ posters displayed the look of the busier designs that bands were using during that era, with little to no white space between the art and the words. Alternatively, Keller’s provide a look at the cleaner, more symmetrical designs, with each item of text receiving its own line above, around, or on top of the graphic. Kane’s and candio’s posters used color to their advantage, filling negative space in with black or gray as opposed to white and making many of his designs stand out.

The second-to-last page of the book features a newer poster, designed by Keller, advertising a Continental reunion at Town Ballroom March 15, 2013. On the back of the page is the raw sketch for the cover design, a punk-looking buffalo with The Continental logo beneath.

Underground Buffalo Rock Posters: The Continental and Beyond is available at Amazon.