Thursday, July 29, 2010

Spotlight - Pittsburgh Local Artist - Yours Truly - Edition 6

Yours Truly is our spotlight for the month (a little early for August). They are a local act who just recently came out with an ep entitled The Colorage. Below you will find a interview we conducted with the band along with their single off the new ep.

Don't Look Down by YoursTrulyBand

How did the band come together?

Justin Portis (guitar/vox) and DJ Huggy (bass) are Pittsburgh natives, and I, Eric Downs (drums/vox) am from Hershey, PA - I came out here to go to Pitt, and eventually, I worked my way into the music scene (in which Huggy was already prominent and to which Justin was returning after doing freelance songwriting for Universal Records in NY). Through a mutual friend/musician, one night, we all ended up on the same gig together in Erie, PA. On the car ride up (my first time meeting Justin), we just talked the entire time about our views on music, and by the time we arrived at the gig, before playing, we had decided to form a band. At that point, Hug was a given as the right bassist for the job. He has a towering collection of production credits for artists nationwide, and he brings that production mindset to our compositions, kind of grounding me and Justin's wild ideas.

How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?

People constantly tell us that we sound like an even blend of Incubus, the Foo Fighters, and Radiohead. We are strongly progressive, but simultaneously very pop friendly. Musically, we incorporate mixed time signatures, complex chordal and harmonic structures, as well as just plain old raw energy that those who have heard us describe as more of an experience than a just a sound (despite how pompous that sounds).

Are you all originally from the Pittsburgh area?

Justin and Hug are both from Pittsburgh, born and raised. I am from Hershey, PA a.k.a Chocolatetown, USA.

Do you all create music full time or is this more of a part time venture? Do you all have day jobs?

Right now, Yours Truly is technically a part time venture, but don't get me wrong - the hours we spend honing our craft near those of a full time job. Our dream is for YT to slowly take over until, yes, it becomes our full time job. In the meantime, Justin works for a major non-profit organization, Pittsburgh Cares, in addition to designing curriculum for Pittsburgh public schools. Hug is an esteemed producer - he's produced for Wiz Khalifa, has appeared on the Halo 3 soundtrack, has recently worked with Tony Williams (producer for Kanye West, John Legend, etc.), he produced (local Pittsburgh sensation) Joy Ike's latest album, and of course, he did all the production on our album. Personally, I work at the Apple Store and teach at the Covenant Church of Pittsburgh Fine Arts Academy in Wilkinsburg.

How do you create your music? What is the song writing process?

Well, as Justin has been a songwriter for many years now, he has amassed an enormous personal library of his own original songs, so, for instance, all the songs on our debut EP, "the Colorage," were songs that he had originally written. However, these final products are drastically different from his original conception. As I had mentioned, Huggy brings a strongly mature producer mindset to the songs, and I tend to bring more of a progressive perspective, so when you combine the three of us, you end up with the progressive pop that we have, featuring intricate arrangement, mixed meters, and an array of genres.

Lately, we've been working on some completely fresh tunes, and the process here has been considerably different. As with most bands, typically one member will bring a riff or idea to the table and then the band will try to flesh it out. It's kind of interesting to hear us to this, because in one way or another, we all have experience in jazz/improvisation, so on the spot, you'll hear improvised turnarounds, distinct feel changes, and lots of space. The one concept that I've been trying to bring to the table lately is for that base riff to be established, then, when the other members solidify a basic part, strip the original riff completely away find creative ways to re-introduce it around the other instruments. The effect here is that one riff, rather than just being a static part played together by all the instruments, develops a progression to it so that in the beginning the riff is in infantile form, but as the section progresses, the riff matures, and by the end, we have a full blown ensemble with parts that the listener has heard an organic evolution of.

This answer is getting long, but one of our other ideals in our writing is to fully utilize the possible combinations of instrumentation we have in an attempt to make us as powerful a power trio as possible. This means being able to sound as small as a mouse and as large as an elephant, being able to play in ultra-tight unison as well as having parts of songs where all our parts weave in an out of each other, sometimes not even playing at all, just singing a capella. In that sense, it's very much like a rock chamber group.

What are your goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish? Are you trying to get signed to a label?

Like most bands, our long term goal is to be able to write and perform music for a living no matter how meager that living is (although a greater-than-meager living would be cool). In the near future, we'd love to be able to start touring, seeing different parts of the country (or world, maybe?), meeting different people, and sharing what we believe to be a great product with those people. In regards to getting signed, we would certainly welcome the attention and support of a label. However, up until now, we have been an entirely DIY band. Aside from tracking drums for our recording, we've done everything from marketing, booking, merchandise design, to recording and producing, and despite the daunting amount of work that it takes, it's just that much more rewarding when you find success, you see smiles on people's faces at the end of the night, and you know that it was all because of you.

You have a new project you are working on. Can you describe it? Are all members involved?

The only project we have going right now is writing more music. We just finished our debut EP, "the Colorage," and we're pretty darn proud of it, so, at this point, we're just trying to spread the word.

Being in the Pgh area, do you find it more difficult to try and succeed?

Personally, I'm still pretty new to the music scene here. I've heard SO MUCH about how terrible a market Pittsburgh is for bands, and while I think I can understand some of the challenges that some people are facing, I truly believe that, with some extremely professional and diligent hard work, there is success to be found here. That being said, Yours Truly is only a year old, so we really haven't been around long enough to experience some of the things that critics of Pittsburgh's music scene have faced. However, our personalities naturally drive us to be thorough and professional, so naturally, we do tons of research and plan our actions in almost a painful amount of detail, and while we're not the biggest band around, we've definitely found some incredible successes, and I like to think that they have to do with our hard work ethic. At heart, we are 51% pure artists, and 49% businessmen. Musicians will hear this day in and day out - the art won't support itself, you have to know how to market yourself, and that is so true. Yes, if you have a good product, the wheels might be easier to grease, but you have to seriously treat this like a full-time job and perform as though you'd get fired if you didn't do good work.

What are some of the obstacles you face trying to create some 'success' in Pgh?

I think that the obstacles we face are the same as every other independent band - trying to take your artistic expression and turning it into a marketable product to peddle like a traveling merchant. It's the same thing that any clothing company, diet soda (err...pop, sorry), cell phone, or car company faces - having a good product is only half of the game; your targeted audience has to know about the product, know why it's good, and believe that it is good. There has to be buzz around it. As musicians, we face the same thing - we have to scrutinizingly perfect our music, expose it (via performance and media), and hope that our listeners will like it enough to pass it on to their friends, therein, creating a buzz.

What are the positive benefits of being in the area?

I think I can provide a good perspective on this, not originally being from the area. I came to Pittsburgh originally because I saw it as a great city to grow in. It's bigger than a town, but not as big as a metropolis, so you have many people to share your art with but you're not washed away in a sea of competition (like in a place like NY or LA). I think that Pittsburgh is a great intermediary step between nothing and everything. Plus, the cost of living is super affordable!

Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?

That's tough to say. Each venue brings has its own crowd, its own staff, and its own setup, so the best venue is the one where the crowd is into your style, the staff if responsible, helpful, and professional, and the venue has a good atmosphere. We've had good experiences at most of the venues we've played, but perhaps some of the most memorable ones were the Smiling Moose and the Brillobox. We've had some absolutely packed shows there with crowds that were really into our music, which is always much more gratifying and reassuring to experience.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Built to Spill v. Yo La Tengo - 8/1/10 - Mr Smalls v. Hartwood Acres

Two shows worthy of seeing on Sunday, August 1st. Obviously you aren't going to be able to see both (unless you cutout early) so here is my breakdown:

Yo La Tengo (YLT) v. Built to Spill (BTS)

1) Atmosphere: Cannot beat a nice summer evening watching a show on the lawn of Hartwood Acres. If it rains, no go. Mr Smalls is the best mid-size venue (and arguably overall) in the city. Packed shows due tend to create quite a sweat even with the new ac.

Advantage: YLT

2) Libations: Hartwood offers the luxury of bringing in a cooler of your favorite beverage for no charge. Lay on a lawn chair or blanket with a cold one right next to your side.  Mr Smalls charges about $4 -8 per beverage. A decent selection and price, but not great. You have to stand amongst some drunks and the constant bumping of body parts.

Advantage: YLT

3) Music: Both bands are well known amongst us music snobs. BTS defined the 90's hipster scene. When ask what 'indie music' is, most pointed to BTS as the definition. YLT has a long history dating back to the early 80's. They are usually a critics favorite, but also have a good following amongst music listeners. Plus, they have transcended their sound many times over.

Advantage: Push

4) Popularity: BTS is still on Warner Brothers and appeared on the charts when their last album There Is No Enemy came out. They would still be seen as flying just below the radar. You are much more likely to hear a BTS than YLT song while shopping at American Outfitters. YLT is on Matador but don't have the appeal for mass consumption.

Advantage: BTS

5) Legacy: While some have compared YLT to The Velvet Underground I just don't see it. They have gone stale with their last few records. Question is who's album are you more likely to play in 20 years? BTS hands down (Perfect From Now On, Keep It Like a Secret).

Advantage: BTS

6) Live Performance: I have seen both bands live a few times (BTS 3, YLT 2). While BTS doesn't blow the doors off the roof, they provide a solid, if not good performance. YLT on the other hand are the direct opposite. I have seen many live shows in my time, but I can only recall one band that I walked out on twice. That would be YLT. Absolutely, one of the most boring live acts without a doubt. I was disgusted that I spent money on them two times.

Advantage: BTS

Final Analysis: BTS

Even with YLT as a free show, I just don't want to waste my time seeing someone I will watch for 10 minutes before running for the car. Of course, others might have a differing opinion.

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Twitter Account

We are now on twitter. Created an account a couple of weeks ago. Follow our news updates, reviews, etc. We will be also be tweeting from Lollapalooza this year plus other shows. Follow the link below:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Show Review - We Were Promised Jetpacks - 7/8/10 - Mr Smalls - Pittsburgh - Live Review

On July 8th, I had the awesome opportunity to see one of my favorite bands that I was skeptical I'd ever get to see. Hailing all the way from Scotland, We Were Promised Jetpacks made a stop at Mr. Smalls on their US tour. They of course played last, so I will get to the openers first, who had a big part in making this show the dance party that it turned out to be.

The show started with a local band, from good old Pittsburgh, called Landline. They were a very good choice as an opener, getting them exposure, as well as providing the audience with great music. As Laura and I stood there contemplating what they sounded like, it hit her, "a male version of Heart," and I couldn't agree more. They used a lot of reverb, and the vocals were high and reminiscent of Anthony Green with High and Driving. The songs were original and very well composed and more intricate than one would think of for a simple three piece band.

The next band on the bill was a Brooklyn based band called Bear Hands. These guys were one of the better live acts I have seen in a while. They were comprised of a post rock sound plus the beginnings of a dance party. Each of the four members was multi-instrumental, and very talented. They combined the expected instruments with ones you wouldn't, like floor toms, maracas, and a synth. These guys got the party started and got everyone pumped up for WWPJ.

Speaking of pumped up, there was a group of people who took the time to make WWPJ 2010 shirts, and I will give them that they were the most excited folks in the crowd. And that was a tough thing to do considering the crowd that these bands drew. Laura and I were caught way off guard, with the mixture of bros, moms, and a few dudes with epic staches. But by the time WWPJ started playing, nobody cared who was there surrounding them, we were all absorbed in the amazing music. They opened with my favorite song of theirs, Quiet Little Voices, and that really got the crowd started. After that, and for the rest of their set, the front of Smalls turned into a massive dance party. Everyone was singing along, stomping their feet, dancing, and smiling, because of a few guys from Scotland. It's shows like these where I continue to be baffled by the power of music to bring people together. It will go down as one of the greatest shows I have ever been to, not only because of the amazing music, but because of the collective happiness that the front of Smalls embodied that night.

-Samantha Ritzer <3

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Show Review - Tigers Jaw - 7/15/10 - 222 Ormsby - Live Review - Pittsburgh

It is a nice change of pace to go to a show where the marquee is green sidewalk chalk on the stoop of a house in Mount Oliver that serves as a venue most Friday and Saturday nights, especially when the line up is as promising as The Sidekicks, Tigers Jaw, Shady Ave, Code Orange Kids, and The Edukators. If you are up for a not-so-quiet evening in a basement with Graffiti walls come to 222 Ormsby, you will not be disappointed. You may even be inspired to shave your head.

When I first heard Tigers Jaw's song "I Saw Water" from their Self-Titled full length I vowed that if they were playing a show in Pittsburgh I would be in attendance. It just so happens that they were booked on July Fifteenth at my favorite DIY Venue, 222 Ormsby. A "Do It Yourself" venue is anything but a public venue, generally someones house that is occasionally opened to the public for shows. Their owners will book shows not only to prove that anyone can book shows, but to ensure an entertaining and talented line-up. 222 first stumbled into my existence when I attended an Andrew Jackson Jihad show there last summer and fell in love with the subculture such a venue provided. It is a small venue where anything goes, couches and abandoned furniture are used as decor, there is drinking in the back yard, less than fifty people attending, and a less than to be desired sound system. It is also a venue where some of the most brilliant undiscovered bands and artists give great performances. It is certainly a place for young and upcoming local bands to get a foot in the door. For example, two of the opening bands on Thursday, Code Orange Kids and The Edukators, are under twenty years old and respected by the underground Pittsburgh Scene.

The Edukators was first up on the hot summer night. It was my first time hearing their mesmerizing blend of pop-punk riffs, dance beats, and heartfelt lyrics and I was blown away. I recognized their bassist and back up vocalist, Joe, from the folk-punk Pittsburgh native band I love to pieces that opened up for Rocky Votolato at Garfield Artworks in April, Wifebeater! In addition to Joe, there were three other fellas on guitars and drums. Matt V., their lead vocalist played guitar with a smile. While their second guitarist, Matt W., had many technical difficulties I still enjoyed his and his band's performance. When I get the chance (which will not be hard considering The Edukators open for many shows in the Pittsburgh area) I will certainly go out to see them again.

Shady Avenue played next. It was my second time seeing them (the first last Summer opening for Andrew Jackson Jihad) and they were good. It seems to be a common trend with 222 that the same bands open for a lot of the shows, making 222 more of a community rather than a venue. The heat kept most of the crowd outside, including myself, but Shady Avenue is a respectable band and the oldest (thirty and forty-somethings) on the bill.

There is a lot to be said about Code Orange Kids and their hardcore sound, female vocalist, and happy demeanor. Although I am not particularly fond of their music, the three total times I have seen them the crowd has loved the in your face, angst and aggression. It is hard not to love these kids (none of the members have graduated High School) seeing as are some of the nicest in the PGH Underground scene, however, you would not think so by their abrasive and hard sound. Another member from Wifebeater!, Reba, screamed and played Bass while Eric and Greg both played guitars, and Jami played drums.

I was excited when it was Tigers Jaw's turn to play in the sauna that was 222; after all, they were what brought me out. Tigers Jaw is a five-piece band on Run For Cover Records from Scranton, PA that started in 2006. They are hard to describe in terms of genre, but they are a general indie rock band with a bit more melodrama. They only have released one full-length, a split with Balance and Composure, two EP's, and a 7". Tigers Jaw has a unique sound all their own that combines pop-punk, rock, indie, and pop into a cohesive blend that will appease the ears and mind. One of my favorite things about Tigers Jaw is how simple and sincere the music and lyrics are making it very easy for almost anyone to relate to such emotional tunes as "Plane Vs. Tanks Vs. Submarine," "Chemicals," "I Was Never Your Boyfriend," and "Never Saw It Coming." Once the band was set up, and had discussed what they should open up with under their breath, the first chords of "The Sun" buzzed through the speakers and nothing else mattered to those of us bobbing from side to side in the front. There was a movement in the small crowd and many smiles that carried on through the entire set that seemed to finish entirely too soon. It was an attendee that suggested they play "Plane Vs. Tank Vs. Submarine" straight into "I Saw Water" as their close, a decision I concluded as the best of the night. When "I Saw Water" hit, the first row (including myself) swarmed Adam as he shared the microphone, and when the song ended it left most with a confused expression as if to say, "that's it?"

But that was not it! The Sidekicks were up next. Contrary to the rest of the bands I had not heard of this four piece Punk-rock-pop band from Cleveland, Ohio. Perhaps the crowd's favorite of the night and within reason. The boys put on a stellar performance with crystal clear vocals that reminded me of a not so pop-like Ludo or You, Me, and Everyone We Know. They played a decent sized set that kept the crowd, including myself, bobbing and dancing.

I would recommend looking up 222, and all the bands that played on Thursday if you are looking for something new and exciting to satisfy your music palette. I urge our readers to support our local music scene because we have such a great one if you look a little deeper than the mainstream.

-Laura Lee Burkhardt

Monday, July 19, 2010

Flaming Lips Tomorrow - 7/20/10 - Amphitheater Station Square

First time I saw The Flaming Lips was at Coachella back in 2005. The show started late due to a clear bag being inflated. Turns out it was the world's largest hamster ball (above). It was one of the most entertaining shows I have seen.

If you have never seen The Flamings Lips, or if you seriously despise them, be sure to check them out tomorrow night. They will put on a show you won't soon forget.

We will be tweeting from the show. Be ure to follow us here:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Show Review - Minus the Bear - Live Review - Mr Smalls - 7/17/10 - Concert Review

Saturday was a big day for all of us in Pittsburgh, with another packed show at Mr. Smalls. National band Minus the Bear played to a full crowd with their touring friends Keepaway and Everest. Waiting in line outside of Small's, you could feel the excitement, hearing chatter everywhere about "we're going to see MINUS THE BEAR!!"

The show was utterly amazing in every aspect, and to be there was one of the most wonderful privileges I have had. I was lucky enough to get on the guest list through the blog, and encountered a few problems simply because of miscommunication, but Minus the Bear's tour manager took care of everything and we can't say enough good things about him.

The show began right at eight, Small's is always reliable for that sort of thing, with a band called Keepaway. They are a three piece band from Brooklyn, New York. They were a perfect opener to set the tone of the whole night, in the way of their sound. With no drum kit, but a myriad of floor toms and cymbals, they defied the usual version of a rock band. All older than you might expect, they brought an unusual amount of energy in an unusual way. The ambiance of their Modest Mouse-esque sound overtook the whole room, captivating everyone with their music.

Next came Everest, a band from Los Angeles that a few people in the crowd were familiar with, including myself. As they took the stage, I was having a tough time telling my friend what to expect. The best way I could explain it without her previously hearing them was the sound of a heavier Manchester Orchestra. Once they began playing, it was easier to understand the comparison. With five guys, their compositions were technical and well thought out, not to mention well played. With quite a few intense guitar solos, our arms were getting tired from holding them up and giving the "wiggling" fingers. The solos were unbelievable, which was not surprising considering the passion that Everest plays with. It was hard for anyone to look away.

The openers were perfect for the act they lead up to, the one we all came to see. Minus the Bear took the stage to an insane amount of applause that continued all the way into the first song. Opening their set with "Drilling", I almost thought it was a strange choice for that spot until the crowd broke out with them. It got their set off to a familiar and comfortable start. For the next half hour they played an assortment of songs from their new album Omni without a break. After a while Alex (the keyboard player) got too sweaty to play anymore and they took a small break to talk. After playing for another fifteen minutes, they began to wrap up their set. It was much longer than I expected, but I don't think anyone was complaining.

After they left the stage, we all wanted more, and who could blame us. "One more song! One more song!" was all you could make out. And guess what, MtB must love PittsburghN because they came back out and played an encore. The first song was "Pachuca Sunrise", and we all expected that to be that, but surprise, they played two more. They ended with the one song I was desperate to hear live, and the one I had hoped they'd play since the start. "Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse" was the song that they left us with, and the song that soundtracked the night. Being at that show was something I won't ever forget, and if you were there you know why.

--by Sam Ritzer

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Interview with Brian Drusky of Drusky Entertainment

The Flaming Lips will be playing on Tuesday, 7/20. If you are not a big fan of their music, trust me and make sure to see them live. They are without a doubt one of the most entertaining live acts touring today. It's not so much about the music as it is the spectacle of the stage.

The company who brought them to Pittsburgh is Drusky Entertainment. Brian Drusky himself was kind enough to answer some questions for us about booking bands and the business in general. For local acts trying to make it in the area, he gives some great advice that you should read.

Could you give a little background on how you got into the music promotion/booking business? From what I read you started out booking at Pitt and around town, went to work for a promotion company that eventually became Clear Channel, was laid off and then create your entertainment business…

You have it almost right I went to Pitt, but I didn’t book at Pitt. I started booking shows for a friend’s local band and also started my hand at booking college shows. Then I picked up other local bands, and then the rest is correct.

You have one person who assists you now. Is he part time? Full? What is his role in the business?

Part time, but practically full time. He assists me in booking and books some of his own stuff, he does a lot of the publicity stuff, oversees all of the internet based promotions we do, and all of the graphics work we do.

How fierce has the competition gotten with several promotion companies in the area? How is it different from past years?

No more fierce as it always has been. You have 7 or 8 entities all trying for the shows in the market place, it’s about being smart and keeping good relationships going and you can succeed.

With regards to booking at locations (Trib Center, Homestead, etc), how does the mgt decide to work with you compared to another promoter? Were you interviewed? Or is this more based on connections?

I have worked with these people in the past on other types of shows and mostly about my connections and me being an honest hard working promoter is how I work all of my business.

What are the challenges of booking shows in the Pittsburgh area?

Pittsburgh is not a New York or LA or Chicago or Philly (meaning, not a large major market) so sometimes you don't get shows that come here that may go to those places, and with that, also not being a major market, you also have the fact that you don't have as many people as those cities either, so you have to be careful and smart on what you book…sometimes things that are huge in those markets, might not be so big in cities like here.

What are the benefits of booking in the area?

It's a great area, with great venues, and if you are smart about what you do, you can succeed.

Is it difficult to land the larger/medium size artists because of the price they are asking? Obviously both parties want to earn a profit. Do you find the acts ask for contracts they might receive in larger markets? Is there any give when they do?

Yes, some do ask for larger guarantees that they ask for in bigger markets, but its you being good at what you do and being smart about what you book to decide yes or no on the shows. Sometimes it may be very enticing to book something, but usually if you have 2nd thoughts about it, you are usually right on not to book it.

I imagine one of the biggest signings this year was The Flaming Lips. They put on one of the most entertaining shows I have seen (even if you don’t care for them you will love them live). How did that happened?

I saw they were touring this summer, called the agent, said there was a possibility to book them, negotiated deal and then the show confirmed.

How has the landscape changed with booking acts in the past decade?

The way people listen to music has changed and how they get their music has changed also. It’s no longer that you get look at how many cd's were sold in the market and the fact that a station is spinning them X amount of times a week. So sometimes it’s hard to do good research on exactly what others are doing.

How does booking an act normally work? Does the band’s mgt contact local promoters and ask for best offers from the various companies in pgh? Or is more based on contacts or if you had work with the mgt/promoters of the band before?

It's a little of all of that actually. Sometimes if you had them before, you should get them the next time, but not always, and sometimes, the acts just put it up for bid to whomever in the marketplace and try to get the best offer.

I recently did an interview with a local act who voiced concerns about promotion companies forcing them to sell ‘x’ number of tickets to a show if they want to open for a national band. What is your requirement and what might be the other side to this?

People, bands, especially forget this is music “business”. Hence it is a business. I really try to help the locals out in the market, I am always trying to get the bands on gigs when I can, but yes, I think it is imperative for local bands to be able to move tickets for a show. My answer is 2 fold. 1) It helps me to bring the smaller bands into the market that may eventually become larger and then you have a local that brings out people to the show so people can see the smaller national band and help the main fans. 2) it shows you the difference between the serious bands and the not so serious bands, a band who can go out and move tickets and bring people to the show , shows me that they are serious about what they are doing and have he chance to make it to the next level, they understand it is a business. Almost, every national band that is out there was once a local band and learned they had to work very hard to succeed and did and it paid off for them. So if I see a band that is serious about promoting their own band then it's a good relationship that is built between my company and the band. Most of the times, I have noticed that the bands who don't want to sell tickets don't’ really get the whole idea that it is a business, and more times than not are not a band for long.

What advice would you give to a local band trying to book a show here in pgh?

Don’t start off too big too soon. (meaning don't say you can bring 100 people to a club for your own show and 10 people show up) play a smaller show in a smaller venue and work your way up from there. The more honest you are with yourself and the people who book shows, you can succeed in the market. If you are dishonest just to get gigs, you won’t get gigs for long.

If you were starting a promotion company today compared to when you started, how much startup money is required?

I will say this, if you don't have money to back you up in case there are loses, you wont last very long, you do have to know going into this, you wont always make money on every show.

I imagine in a city like Pittsburgh (smaller market) that the margin of turning a profit can be tight. Do you find this to be the case? And given the economy within the past couple of years has it been more difficult?

Yes on both cases.

What was the most difficult band to deal with and what happened (you of course don’t have to mention by name)?

Not really one band, but sometimes bands just have unrealistic ideas on their draw or what they want to get things done, sometimes you just have to negotiate ad make limits to make sure bands aren’t being excessive.

What is the strangest request you have received on a rider?

No air conditioning in the club during the middle of the summer.

Is there a band or mgt team you won’t work with again? What happened?

No, I will usually work with anyone within reason.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Top Concerts So Far 2010

Since we hit the midway point of 2010 I am going to give my top concerts so far this year as I did last. Funny part, I can name the top 2 with no problem because they left such an impression. I had to really think about the rest. Without further ado here is my list (bottom is my fave):

Mr Gnome - Smiling Moose - 3/26/10 - Love these guys and the new album.

Cymbal Eats Guitars - Brillobox - 5/3/10 - CYE brought the goods. Enjoyed them.

Apples in Stereo - 123 Pleasant Street - 4/17/10 - Great atmosphere with a fun performance.

Miles Kurosky - Brillobox - 3/29/10 - Yes I am probably a fanboy of Beulah, but anyone that was at Brillo this evening can attest how awesome it was. Openers Delicious Pastries did not let down either.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Show Preview - Minus the Bear - 7/10/10 - Mr Smalls - Pittsburgh

In less than one week, one of the most undefinable bands of this decade will be gracing our beautiful city. Minus the Bear is coming back to Pittsburgh this Saturday, July 10 to play another packed show at Mr. Smalls Theatre and Funhouse. The Seattle based band is on tour following the release of their sixth album, titled Omni. Through their six albums the sound that they achieve has evolved and grown nearly as much as the band members themselves.

Coming together in 2001, Minus the Bear was formed from scraps and pieces of various other acts such as Botch, Sharks Keep Moving, Kill Sadie, and have connections to side projects like These Arms Are Snakes, among others. It is understandable where their sound comes from when you look into their collective background. Nearly every band that members were pulled from were pioneers of the math rock genre. This particular genre is quite possibly the best single word that can describe Minus the Bear. It draws from the hearts of ambient "Brian Eno-esque" sounds, the passion of rock and hardcore jams, the interesting appeal of the synthesizer in experimental music and mixes it with meaningful vocals and lyrics often associated with the emo genre.

Minus the Bear is the ultimate kaleidoscope band, always staying within their realm of comfort, but subtly changing their sound with every little move. This is why they continue to keep their appeal and constantly expand their fan base, thus selling out many of the shows that they play. Hopefully Saturday at Mr. Smalls will be no different. The more people, the more fun, and more of a chance for people to get into other bands as well. Another West Coast "no known genre" band, Everest, will be sharing the stage with MtB. It surely isn't their first big tour, as they've played with acts like Wilco. A self proclaimed rock and roll plus some abjectives band, Everest is sure to add another dimension to an already highly anticipated show.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Show Preview - Interview - We Were Promised Jetpacks - 7/8/10 - Mr Smalls - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

We Were Promised Jetpacks will be playing at Mr Smalls Wednesday, 7/8. They are a Scottish quartet playing their brand of indie rock. If you happen to catch the Twilight Sad last month at Brillobox, you surely don't want to miss this show. They share the same label (Fat Cat), are from the same country and a part of the 'Glasglow' scene.

They were kind enough to give us an interview while touring and watching the World Cup. They just recently released an EP this year entitled The Last Place You'll Look, the followup to their first LP Four Walls. We covered such details as their writing process, touring life and their take on the World Cup (if you are a diehard like me). We conducted the interview before US was knocked out (Ghana? come on) in the second round.

You have been well rcvd in the 'indie world' of North America; how is it in Europe?

we're quite well rcvd in europe too! germany is great, holland is pretty good, scotland is alright and england isn't that amazing.

A Far Cry by We Were Promised Jetpacks

How are the shows you play in Europe compared to the ones in the US? Are you getting the same attendance? How does the audience differ in responding to the music?

similar attendance when we play in germany and holland, a little less in scotland and loads less in england! the crowds are pretty similar everywhere too. germany is a little crazy, actually, but everywhere is pretty good.

 Have you been able to watch the World Cup? Any team you have a soft spot for since Scotland didn’t qualify? Who do you believe will take home the cup? Best game you have seen so far? 

 we've watched all of it! we have to leave for the US in a couple of days though, so might miss some games. we do actually have a soft spot for the US, but i just want the good teams to play well and win. anyone playing well i like. not in a "support the team who will win it" kind of way, but a "support the team who plays the best attacking football" kind of way.

Did you happen to see the US v. Slovenia game? You think the team got hosed? Anything you feel FIFA should do to handle better officiating (using replay)?

they absolutely did! they got robbed. i'm pleased they won the group today though, they deserved it. i don't think you can start using replays as that means some games have different rules to other games, which is bad. the sport it so global, and all the games have to have the same rules. tv replays can't be used in the lower scottish leagues as not all games are on tv, and they don't have enough money to take cameras and replay technology to these games. what's so good about football is that the world cup final is the same game as a useless league game in the scottish third division.

The Walls Are Wearing Thin by We Were Promised Jetpacks

Now that the knockout round is established (after today) who do you like going to the final? You think Argentina is legit?

well, i'm supporting usa (not a suck up, i really am) and would actually quite like england to do pretty well, but not win it. argentina do look for real this time. i'm a huge juan veron fan! But i'm a sucker for good old fashioned passing football, so i don't really mind who wins, as long as they don't win it by defending!

How does your song writing process work? Does everyone get involved with lyrics and music?

adam has one or two guitar parts and together we all do our own bits and piece the song together. adam does all the lyrics himself, because he has to sing them

Is it more difficult to tour in the US v. Europe? More profitable? Have you gotten acclimated to the business side of things?

it's a little more difficult as the US is so big, so to tour it properly you have to be away from home for a long time. but aside from that, it's pretty similar! we don't really have to think much about the business side of things, i suppose.

short bursts by We Were Promised Jetpacks

The new EP The Last Place You'll Look is a bit dark than your debut LP These Four Walls. How did that develop? Were you going through a difficult period? Is there any theme to it?

we were told it would be good to have a release to go along with our first headline tour in feb/march so we figured it'd be fun to try something new. i like the ep, and i'm proud of it and glad we did it the way we did. it wasn't a difficult period at all, quite the opposite.

 You are traveling with Bear Hands. Did you select them as your tour mates? Enjoying tour with them?
 we did and we love them's great they're on the same booking agecy as us, so they were recommeneded for the support in feb/march which we said yes to (cos they're great) and we wanted them back for this tour too. we always want them.

this is my house this is my home by We Were Promised Jetpacks

 What are the goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish?

 to make another album. always! when we made the first one we'd always said our aim was to get to make another one out of it. now we're writing the next one and having a great time. once that comes out it'd be nice to get to do another and not have to get proper jobs where you have to get up really early and not get to watch the world cup in the afternoon...

Do you create your own videos? “Roll Up Your Sleeves” has some very interesting graphics.

not really, we leave that up to people who know what they're doing. we saw the video that he did for the twilight sad and thought it was great so got fatcat to get him to do the sleeves one. it turned out alright!

The Twilight Sad was just here a couple of months ago. How would you say your live performance compares to them? Do we need to bring earplugs to this show?

 i hope so. we look up to them a lot, and that's something we've taken form them a little. hopefully it'll be loud as fuck!

Is there any album the band is loving these days while on tour?

a few i guess. the new national record is amazing. the new endor (glasgow) album is great, royal bangs, etc...