Sunday, September 14, 2014

Thrival Festival - Day One Recap

Portugal. The Man. At Thrival Festival. All photos (c) PMR.
A friend of mine is in from out of town, so I didn't make it over to East Liberty to Thrival until halfway through Talib Kweli's set. The crowd responded well to the set, even if, as Kweli noted, his was probably the first hip-hop concert for most of the people in attendance. 

Phosphorescent hit the stage next. In January, when Phosphorescent played Mr. Smalls, it was mostly a one man gig, with the band exiled to the corners of the stage. The songs never really picked up, and Houck did this weird five minute thing with tape loops that cleared out half the crowd. Well, tonight, Phosphorescent behaved like a rock band. Not only was the bass player swigging Jameson, but a number of the songs turned into lengthy jams that bordered on country-psychedelic.

Portugal. The Man headlined the evening. The announcer/MC, after asking everyone to applaud the corporate sponsors and buy tickets for tomorrow, introduced the band as "the best live band on Earth." Or some such superlative. Whatever it was, it wasn't far. The Alaska indie rock band was exceptional. They also had the trippiest light show this side of Pink Floyd. The band actually opened with a Pink Floyd cover - "Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2" - before launching into a medley of their own tunes. I left halfway through the set, to entertain my guest, during an Oasis cover. I never could get into the band's studio albums, but I remember thinking they were very good after seeing them at Smalls 4 or 5 years ago. If and when they next play Pittsburgh, don't miss it. 

Here are some photos:

Portugal. The Man.



Talib Kweli:


Friday, September 12, 2014

Spoon at the Carnegie Library of Homestead, with Operators and Hamilton Leithauser - Concert photos and review - September 11, 2014

Spoon at the CLoH Music Hall, 9.11.14. All photos (c) PMR.
As much as you can complain about bands whose tour passes over Pittsburgh, sometimes we luck out with a band at a venue that's a fraction of the size they should be playing.

Case in point, indie rock reliables Spoon on Thursday. The band played the century-old Carnegie Library in Homestead, a venue that seats one thousand. Spoon isn't selling out stadiums, but we're lucky to have them in such an intimate spot, especially those that paid the $50 to be in the little pit up front, inches away from Britt Daniel and the rest of the band.

Their set played like a Greatest Hits album. I haven't been around since the early days – I jumped on the band's, uh, bandwagon in the mid-2000s – but almost every song was a recognizable hit. And the new tracks, from the excellent They Want My Soul, fit in extremely well with the rest of the setlist. The band opened with “Do You,” off that new album, followed by “Rent I Pay.”

The four-song encore was a nice encapsulation of the entire set. They opened with a slow-burning “Outlier,” also from the new album, driven by a groovy bass line and set off with strobe lights. “Anything You Want,” from 2001's Girls Can Tell, was followed by bigtime hit “Cherry Bomb,” before the night closed with another deep cut, “Small Stakes.” (The whole setlist can be found here.)

Operators opened with a high-energy set that called to mind industrial dance-rock like New Order. Former Walkmen lead singer Hamilton Leithauser was the second opener. The guy has an amazing, powerful voice, but that was it; the band seemed like little more than an afterthought. 

Here are photos from the evening:


Hamilton Leithauser


-- B. Conway