Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stone Temple Pilots - 8/28/10 - Show Review

The Stone Temple Pilot's show was this past Saturday at the First Niagara Pavilion. I wasn't planning on writing anything but after reading some reviews, and hearing another, I thought I would throw in my two cents. Let me first sum up the show with two words, 'It Sucked'. Yesterday I was driving into work listening to 102.5's Jim Krenn talking about the show. He made the statement that the vocals were barely audible (very true). Then he proceeded to say twice "It was a great show." Huh? How does that work? If you can't hear the vocals it's still a great show?

We were on the lawn quite far away from the stage. The big problem was no one could hear Weiland's vocals out that far. After the first couple of songs he addressed the crowd about his recent fall in Cincinnati (I was told) and his rumored lip syncing. After he launched into his next song the lawn people started chanting "Turn up the mic! Turn up the mic!" Unfortunately, this did nothing. Next they started booing the stage. Again, nothing. You might have thought it was Weiland's pipes from getting older. Nope. When the bassist sung backup you could hear him clear as day. How the board guy didn't notice his voice wasn't carry was beyond me. It got worse. People in the back continued to chant before many bailing halfway through the set. Just a big disappoint overall.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Show Review - Paul McCartney - 8/18/10 - Consol Energy Center - Pittsburgh - Live Review

What can be said that hasn’t already been about a Paul McCartney concert? This was my first time seeing PM and it was simply one of the best shows I have witnessed in quite some time. You can see a couple of proper reviews here and here. So, I am going to try and explain why this was such a memorable show.

McCartney is obviously a living legend. The way he conducts his show is with the up most professionalism and geared entirely towards the consumer. Obviously this comes with decades of experience. He launched into this show with his 4 member band including Rusty Anderson who we interviewed here. First thing I notice was that every band member had wireless instruments except lead guitarist Anderson who was wired in the entire time. There were a few tunes that PM went wired while playing the ukulele. Otherwise the equipment was state of the art or the vintage instruments were for their pure sound.

PM also had the proper amount of banter telling stories between songs and bringing an audience member to the stage. He told the story of how Jimi Hendricks heard Sgt. Peppers for the first time and then 2 days later he and his band were playing it in a club. At his shows people bring in homemade signs to get Paul’s attention that appears like a Wrestling Event. In this case he brought up a fan that had him sign her thigh in order to have it tattooed. Of course, she made a mistake when she grabbed the mic and said, “Hello, Pittsburgh!” Not something a western pa citizen would state. She was actually from Philly which was met with a resounding number of ‘boos’. But it was a definite interesting moment. I am curious if she actually had the signature tattooed.

He also had a few tricks allowing him to connect with the audience and keep them involved. While playing his song ‘My Love’, the video screen quickly displayed a couple in the audience and the gentleman proposing to his girlfriend. A nice, cliché moment. When he launched into ‘Blackbirds’ solo, a huge moon was lowered while the lights were dimmed adding to the ambiance of the evening. The band played ‘Hey Jude’ and PM lead the crowd in a sing-a-long that had every member shouting. The one that caught every one off guard is when fireworks and flames shot out from the stage when ‘Live and Let Die’. The loud explosion made me jump from my seat.

For a 68 year old man, Paul McCartney has performing down to a science. He and his band played for over 3 hours not appearing to get winded once which is quite a feat. It is one of those shows that you will retain forever.

One thing I would like to mention is the new Consol Energy Center. For a state of the art facility they have a problem with traffic control. Several times they stopped people from coming in and moving upstairs to only one bay of escalators. Is this going to work with a bunch of drunken Pen fans? With only 3 entryways it makes you wonder.

**Thanks to Hugh for the pics.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lollapalooza 2010 Roundup

Three weeks later I am doing my last Lolla post. Here we go:

Why Lolla is the best festival period:

1) In and out privaleges - Want go back to your hotel to take a nap? Grab a cheap beer? Eat better food? Don't want to use a port-o-let? No problem.

2) You are in Chicago. No need to rent a car or take cabs. Resturaunts not name Taco Bell or In n Out.

3) Grant Park. Stunning. One side Lake Michigan, other side Chicago skyline.

4) Ticket prices are more reasonable than any other festival.

5) Wonderful space for viewing a show and vendors.

Top Shows for 2010

10) Strokes
9) Cymbals Eat Guitars
8) Phoenix
7) National
6) Lady Gaga
5) Wavves
4) MuteMath
3) Metric
2) Gogol Bordello
1) Mumford & Sons

Most Disappointing Performances:

3) Dodos
1)  The XX

Until next year.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wise Blood Hits Pitchfork - Receiving National Recognition

We did a local spotlight on artist Wise Blood back in April. He is now receiving some national attention, most recently with Pitchfork. They ran a feature on him as an up and coming artist to watch. You can find the article here: http://pitchfork.com/news/39773-rising-wise-blood/. He definitely deserves the recognition.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Show Preview - VV Brown - Amphitheater at Station Square - 8/29/10

VV Brown will be opening for Maroon 5 this Sunday at Amphitheater at Station Square. She is a singer/songwriter from the Northampton area of England.  Her debut album, Traveling Like The Light, was released last summer with the single, "Shark in the Water". Brown's sound can be described a little bit of jazz, 60's pop and soul, with a very sultry voice. She is comparable to Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin with a very retro feel to her music. While she not only sings she also is a talented musician able to play multiple instruments.

Show is scheduled to start at 7:30p. Should be a wonderful cool night as autumn sets in.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lollapalooza Day 3 - Sunday 8/8/10

Finally getting around to the last day of the festival. So, here is Sunday.

The Antlers - It was raining this morning but The Antlers braved the wind and storm. They played their atmospheric music which was pleasing. The funny part was they went over their set time bleeding into the Dodo's. The Dodo's (playing directly across) waited a couple of minutes before launching into their set playing a battle of the bands of sorts. Strange since these 2 are on the same label. Do they like each other?

The Dodos - Again, these guys made my best show of 2008. This time, they didn't really impress me as much. They appeared a little road weary even stating this was their last show on a huge tour. The cool part was they brought on Neko Case for a few tunes which added nicely to their sound.

The Cribs - I left The Dodo's a little early to checkout the Cribs with Johnny Marr. Marr looked really well for his age and still can kill on guitar. The Cribs sounded good as I really wasn't familiar with them. Glad I go to see JM.

Mumford & Sons - Amazing set. I don't know these dudes from a ham sandwich but they had the audience worked into a frenzy at 3p. It was over flowing at the Playstation Stage and everyone appeared to know who the Sons were. They really put out the energy that trickled down to the crowd. Wonderful and surprising set.

Yeasayer = Yeasabore

Frightened Rabbit - Really enjoy these guys. Didn't get into the last album but they still brought it on stage. Left a little early since they are coming here in Nobember.

MuteMath - Another surprise for me. Nice live set that had the crowd pumped.

MGMT - Out of all the bands playing Lolla I was looking forward to watching MGMT. I love both albums. But these guys, while solid, were quite tame. The question you have to ask, "Would you travel 2 hours to see these guys again?" The answer, definitely not. A bit of a disappointment for me.

The National - For guys who play serious downtrodden, melodic music they honestly know how to translate it live. They brought out a horn section for their set along with an Arcade Fire member (redhead dude). They sounded great and kept the audience engrossed. The XX and MGMT should take notes.

Arcade Fire - Love these guys live and they are a band you would travel 4 hours to see. However, the first songs were soft and you could literally hear Soundgarden bleeding through from way, way, way across the park. Between songs it was overpowering. I eventually got annoyed and walked down to Soundgarden after 45 minutes. Big mistake.

Soundgarden - These guys looked their age and the years haven't been kind. I will say they were loud, but they had so many technical difficulties that it became more annoying. Left early.

Top 3 shows Sunday:

3) National
2) MuteMath
1) Mumford & Sons

Round up coming later this week.

Show Review - Bad Veins & We Are Scientists - Brillobox - 8/15/10 - Concert Review - Pittsburgh - Live Review

Last Sunday was a hot, muggy night in Pittsburgh. Even with the air condition blasting at the Brillo I was sweating bullets in shorts. A few drinks helped alleviate the sticky feeling in the short term while I caught the last song of opener Margie Blanc. Fortunately, Bad Veins wasted no time setting up their stage. They are still the 2 piece with a 'thrid' member being Irene, their reel to reel 70's tape recorder. Irene supplies the band with their samples, bass, etc. while the two members play on drums and guitar. At the get go Bad Veins raised the spirit of the audience with their heavy drum beats and distorted vocals. They utilize an old 80's style phone attached to a podium to create the fuzzy sound. Irene usually kicks off each song before the band drives home the louder parts. Lead Ben Davis told the crowd this was their last show on the tour and they had run out of cd's. Instead he gave the crowd the web address where you could get the album for free. Nice guy. The only disappointment for me was they didn't play any new songs, still relying on all the tracks from their debut album. The crowd was definitely into the performance and were mobbing the two after their set. I would love to see these guys as a 4 piece to flesh out their sound live instead of using Irene.

We Are Scientists were up next on the bill but took a little more time to setup. They were a 3 piece this night with the usual bass, guitar and drums including former Razorlight member Andy Burrows. Bassist Chris Cain definitely sports the hipster look from his ironic mustache and glasses to the skinny jeans. WAS started off the set playing their dance pop songs which immediately worked the crowd into a frenzy. Most were belting out the vocals to each song right along with lead singer Keith Murray. This was my first WAS show, but many in the crowd appeared to witness the spectacle before. WAS provide a lot of fun energy onstage which translates down to the crowd. Many times Chris Cain danced his way into the audience while spectators created a divide for him ducking the bass neck. He moved along with rhythm even ignoring a female 'super fan' that was licking him on the face. She was definitely a little too involved. WAS appeared not to use a set list, instead just asking 'What are we playing now?' They would listen to the audience cat calls and then discuss it before launching into the next song. Between each and every song Chris and Keith would create banter between themselves that many times went nowhere. It sounded like two guys who had been in a van way too long together. At first it was a bit amusing, but then it really became a little annoying. But this was the only negative on a show that was a definite audience pleaser.

It was a very good double bill last Sunday night. Both bands are worth checking out if they come to your town.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Concert Review - mewithoutYou - Mr Smalls - 8/9/10 - Show Review - Pittsburgh

One can be certain that whatever price a ticket to see mewithoutYou is completely worth it, and more. Perhaps it is their powerful lyrics shouted, whispered, and serenaded by Aaron Weiss that hit in waves to all those weak spots of the psyche. Or the never-disappointing, always-awe-ing collection of opening bands. Or the experience itself of being in a venue with many passionate people who share the common love of expression and music. Regardless of the reason, a mewithouYou headlining show is a near religious experience, this past Monday the ninth was no exception. The worthy openers were Murder By Death and Buried Beds, which promised three solid acts to do Mr. Small's very well.

From the moment I set eyes on the stage set up I was intrigued. Buried Beds had a few floor toms, a keyboard, a violin, and a homemade cymbal toting fixture in addition to the drum kit and guitars set up. I had not listened to anything from this Philadelphia band, though I had been promised I would love. They got on the tour because they are long time friends with Aaron Weiss and the entire mewithoutYou crew. Eliza Jones and Brandon Beaver started the band as just a musical outlet in 2003, but since then have blown up to be widely known. When they took the stage, unlike a lot of first acts, seemed comfortable and looked as if they were having a blast. Their sound was captivating to say the least. It was bouncy, catchy, passionate and groovy. Male and female vocals bounced back and forth with harmonies from the entire band. At first I thought, Rockabilly + Post-Rock + Harmonies, but after later review I concluded that Buried Beds is just fantastic and a band that all can enjoy. Their newest album, from which most of their set list was comprised, "Tremble The Sails" has been on repeat since Monday night.

Next up was Indianna's Murder By Death. They have been playing music since 2000 and have five -varying in concept- albums. From zombies to devils all with a western, rock, and instrumental influences. The first thing I noticed about Murder By Death was the massive Bass their bassist was hooking up to the abundance of pedals by his feet. Such a detail seems very significant in retrospect. My biggest and only complaint about their set was the over powering bass tones. It turned what would have been a unique set with an electric upright bass, accordian, and keyboard accents into a sludgy mass of sound that left everyone around me begging for a break. To my surprise, many of the audience members were singing along with great enjoyment. I was not disappointed by their set, although I was not impressed. I could, however, pin this to my anxiousness for mewithoutYou to begin.

I had a similar experience last summer when mewithoutYou brought Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground and The Dear Hunter to Mr. Smalls in support of "It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All A Dream! It's Alright," their most recent album. It has a dramatically different feel than the first three which all had a lot more post-hardcore influence, while it is a lot more folk inspired musically. I am infinitely more moved by their older music, but this did not stop me from attending the show last summer. My first mewithoutYou show could have gone either way, especially due to my lack of intense interest in their new material. Fortunately, I was blown away by Kay Kay And His WeatIhered Underground (just like Buried Beds) and had from the beginning of their set convinced myself that it would be a wonderful night. After the excitement had build up, I had little attention span for anything other than mewithoutYou. Thus, I cut The Dear Hunter (and Murder By Death) way shorter than they deserved.

Like any event I build myself up for I told myself, "nothing else matters, mewithoutYou is up next!" I could hardly wait any longer and was overjoyed to see the boys walk humbly to the stage. They opened up with "A Stick, A Carrot & String" from "It's All Crazy..." followed by "January 1979" from "Catch For Us The Foxes." This pattern continued, with a few exceptions, for the remainder of the set (a new song gracefully turning into a song from "Foxes," and "Brother, Sister"). I was warned that Aaron and the entire band seemed haggard this tour, as if playing their music was getting old to them, but after their performance I was elated to learn that that was not the case at all. Aaron bounced from one side of the stage to another as he had last year, Mike shredded guitar as he always has, Greg jammed out on Bass like before, and Rickie played drums more enthusiastically than any drummer I have seen this year. And just as last year, I got chills from their set. After they had finished their last song, I did not think my night could get any better. I was so wrong! They came out for the best encore I have quite possibly ever seen. What I mean by this: they played my favorite song from their first album, "[A-->B] Life" that they never perform live, "Gentleman." Any mewithoutYou fan knows that such an occurrence is near legendary. It was the final confirmation that Monday would be a night I would not soon forget.

-Laura Lee Burkhardt

Monday, August 16, 2010

Interview - Rusty Anderson - The Paul McCartney Band - Consol Energy Center - 8/17 & 8/18 - Pittsburgh - Show Preview

Rusty Anderson is the lead guitarist for The Paul McCartney Band who will be performing this Wednesday and Thursday to open the Consol Engergy Center. Anderson has been touring and creating music with McCartney since early 2001. He has contributed and recorded on several of McCartney's previous albums including Driving Rain and Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. He is also on several of McCartney's live dvd's.While Rusty is well known as a contributing member to several acts he also produces and creates his own music.

Anderson just recently released his second solo album entitled Born On Earth. The album ranges from power pop to jangly folk with driving guitar rifts. The song and lyrics are melodic, influenced by several of his peers he has played with. Rusty was kind enough to answer a few questions about his new album Born on Earth and what we can expect when the Consol Energy Center opens on Wednesday.

Where Would We Go by Rusty Anderson

How did working with Paul Mccartney come about?

A producer that I'd worked with a lot, David Kahne, brought Abe and I in to record with Paul in 2001. We started doing shows and now it's been almost a decade.

Your new album Born on Earth (out 8/3) is 5 years since your first solo album. Why the long break?

There are a few reasons actually. Fitting the writing and recording time in between working with Paul slows things down quite a bit. Also, as a solo artist making a record, there are many choices to be made and I want it to be right. Following your muse is not always a quick process.

Your album is a conceptual record. Could you explain what the album is about? What made you decide to create it?

The concept chose me, actually. The fact that we are living in the digital age with computers, airplanes, satellites, oil spills & climate shift seems to me against all odds. Of all the times that we could be alive on this little planet here we are! The lyrics float between a birds eye view of our situation and my personal, slice of life experiences. As the songs started coming together I noticed a pattern and that's how the tapestry came out!

What album or show made you want to dedicate your life to music?

It was never a conscious decision. When I was 5 my older brother Mike passed away at age 19 (he was the oldest and I was the youngest) right about the same time my older sister Hope was playing Beatles records and it hooked me instantly. From there I listened to Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, early Genesis, etc. but my focus on music became tunnel-visioned. If I didn't have music I don't know what the hell I'd be doing now. Looking back I think I preferred the intangible, beautiful, gritty, ineffable world of music to anything else.

Your music career has stretched many decades now. Is there a highlight and lowlight that you have experienced?

So many highlights: playing live gigs with Paul McCartney at the Colosseum or with the Rusty Anderson Band at a theater or even my first official teenage band Eulogy, writing or tracking a song and feeling the excitement of a new creation coming into existence.....I feel so blessed.

I've had many bad times too - bands breaking up, the realization that something isn't working and scary things are around the corner, getting fired from a warehouse job and having no money, doing a record company showcase and finding out that they passed, trying to work in the studio after a relationship goes south. I've gone through long periods of depression.

Will you be doing a solo tour on supporting the album?

I did an LA show for the record release. I'd love to do some more dates. I'm just waiting to find out the Paul schedule to start booking them. It's a quality problem, right?

You are performing 2 shows in Pittsburgh. How different will the shows be?

You'll find out.

You have been performing with Paul McCartney for quite sometime. Have things changed in that time with performance and how you contribute to albums?

It's always in flux and unpredictable.

Did you have help in creating the album or were these mainly fleshed out by you?

Yes, I love making music with others. Many of the songs are co-writes....usually consisting of me having most of the song together but the lyrics were unfinished or sometimes starting from a lyrical theme as in Julia Roberts. I also co-produced it with Petur Smith, Andrew Murdock and Curt Schneider.

This will be Pittsburgh’s first show at the new Consol Energy Coliseum (big deal her in pgh). Is there anything special planned? What can we expect?

That's a good question.

Do you perform with McCartney abroad as well? Or just US? Who else do you perform with?

Yes, all over the world. Between playing and recording with my own band and everything with Paul my time is very filled up. I did produce an alt-folk band called The Scarlet Furies recently and squeezed in some guitar studio dates here and there.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

Yes, I can't wait to see what kind of noise y'all make. And check out the Born On Earth record....see what you think!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lollapalooza Day 2 Saturday 8/7/10

Saturday Day 2 (Cont)

Stars - Let me say I am a heterosexual male and I like Stars. F* the rest of ya. Amy Milan's voice is exquisite. They put on a great performance with white roses and confetti canons ala Flaming Lips.Enjoyable.

XX - Love the freaking album, but this was the most disappointing set without question. First, they played in the daylight, when they are truly meant for the night. Then they played in all dark clothes and were quite tame. It was a huge crowd, but once they are started to bore everyone the chatter just escalated to the point I had to move on. And please get a different t-shirt. A black shirt with a 'x' on it is really original.

Gogol Bordello - Walked over after leaving XX and what a contrast in crowd and band. The band and crowd were dancing and jumping. They are probably in their 40-50's playing gypsy punk like music. Full of energy and entertaiment. Funny thing is I wouldn't buy their album. Just isn't for me. But the live show? I would see it again.

Metric - Now that was an f-ing set. Emily Haines, sexiest girl in indie rock, has everyone dancing w the crowd going pretty nuts. The guy right next to me took his pants off and started surfing. Saw them in pgh and they did 10x that here at Lolla.

Grizzly Bear - Really? Oh my god....please do something for the crowd. Anything. You sold over 100k albums.Yawn.

Cut Copy - Good solid live act. Nothing special.

Phoenix - Very, very good live performance. Probably the best headliner I caught the entire 3 days (more coming on this tomorrow). Lead said this was the biggest crowd they played to and they didn't disappoint for me.

Top 3 from Saturday:

3) Phoenix
2) Gogol Bordello
1) Metric

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lollapalooza in Review - Day One - 8/6/10

Lollapalooza has come and gone. We tweeted about it here, so some of this is going to be regurgitated. I am just going to go down the list of everyone I saw:


These United States - Did an interview with them. They were good live, unfortunately, not a lot of people got to see them because they opened the doors late to lolla. Wish I had been able to see them at Club Cafe.

Wavves - Really enjoy the new album. Didn't know how it would translate live. I wasn't expecting much but they did really, really well. A little too much banter, but not terrible. Impressive.

The Big Pink - meh

Cymbals Eat Guitars - Even on a hot muggy day they brought it just like they did at the Brillo. Again, cannot say enough good things about their live show

New Pornographers - I have been indifferent to their live performances in general. But I will say this is the best set I have seen. Neko being there helped a lot. Still, they are mediocre live act.

Dirty Projectors - I don't get the appeal. I guess they were good for what they do, but I could only last 3 songs because it bored the piss out me.

Fuck Buttons - meh #2

Lady Gaga - She's definitely an entertainer and I can see why people find her appealing. There were approximately 80k people there to catch her act and she didn't disappoint.
The Strokes - I left Gaga after about 45 minutes to catch The Strokes. The Strokes were really good. It was their first time playing Lolla according to lead Julian. They were very enjoyable. The only downfall was that they aren't meant for a set over an hour. Julian, who obviously doesn't say much between songs , tried his hands at banter which came off awkward. They finished their set early.

Top 3 of Friday

3) Cymbals Eat Guitars
2) Lady Gaga
1) Wavves

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Interview - Matt Marks and Mellissa Hughes

Matt Marks and Mellissa Hughes performed this past Saturday at Most Wanted Fine Arts. You can find the review here. They were kind enough to answer a few questions on how they began playing together and how their album, The Little Death: Vol. 1 received the genre title "post-Christian nihilist pop-opera". You can find more information at their site http://mattmarksmusic.com/.

How did the two of you meet, and what made you decide to collaborate with music?

Mellissa: Matt and I met in Miami FL in 2006 on one of those televised PBS music specials. I was singing backing vocals and he was playing French Horn. We got together there and have been together ever since. Within a year of us meeting Matt started to write the opera, which was his first large scale composition work. I guess you could say we started to collaborate together simply because we were already spending so much time together and he had unlimited access to my voice.What began as tinkering around with an idea quickly became a desire for a fully staged production, and 3 years later we have an album! I don't think there has ever been any question about the two of us not playing the roles of Boy and Girl. At this point it's perfectly tailored to our individual voices.

Where are you from? Do you think that it has any influence on your music?

Matt: I was born and raised in Downey, Ca., which is a suburb of L.A., but have lived on the East Coast - now Brooklyn, NY - ever since I growed up. I think growing up in the rather artificial and sterile environment of the sprawling L.A. suburbs, mixed with the heightened pop-culture consciousness of living in a big city, gave me an innate familiarity and hostility towards the modern American pop-minded lifestyle. Most of my music is based on my harsh reactions against that mindset and my natural tendency to identify with it.

Do you enjoy playing concerts? Do you prefer small and intimate shows, or large concerts?

Mellissa: Large scale concerts are always a blast, but I always enjoy the smaller more intimate crowds. It's amazing how much I feed off of audience energy. I definitely make spontaneous musical decisions based on how the audience is reacting in mid song, which you can do in larger venues, but it's more effective in the smaller houses I think. Intimate shows are also a challenge for that same reason. We just finished a two week run of The Little Death in New York, and each night we greeted the audience they entered by selling lemonade and homemade chocolate chip cookies. It was our way of embracing the church home atmosphere of the opera, and a way of making the audience feel like they were in a church, but it was a challenge because you had a sense of how the audience was going to react to the show before it even began, but regardless we sold it every night.

Where do you you get your inspiration?

Matt: The inspiration for The Little Death: Vol. 1 came from of my Christian upbringing, both from the modern Baptist church I attended in Southern California and the small, one-room Baptist church I often attended in Arkansas. Musically the opera is very influenced by music from both of these locales: I'm fascinated by both contemporary Christian pop music and southern gospel music.

Of all genres, why post-Christian nihilist pop-opera?

Matt: Ha! That genre was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way I began using to describe the project. It's sort of a play on the prefix-heavy sub-sub-genres so common in indie rock and dance music. That said, it actually describes the opera pretty well in my opinion, so I decided to stick with it. It's an opera; it's pop; it's Christian music written by a non-Christian (me); and the nihilism aspect, well, it becomes more apparent in Vol. 2. The song OMG I'm shot is a preview.

Matt Questions

How long have you been playing music?

I started playing piano when I about 7 or 8, picked up french horn when I turned 11, and started working with electronics and audio when I got to college. I didn't really start composing seriously until about 5 years ago.

What kind of music do you listen to?

The more music I write the less I listen to other peoples music. I used to be a huge record collector, but it's dropped off drastically since I've started writing and producing my own stuff. On subway rides I used to listen to all different types of music, but now I often spend it listening to mixes and pieces I'm working on while taking notes. Meatloaf is pretty great.

Any plans for Little Death in the future?

We're touring Vol. 1 right now and we're looking to do some more fully staged runs wherever we can. Eventually, down the road a bit, Vol. 2 will be out and about. It's mostly all written, I just have to write a couple more songs to connect the narrative and finish producing it all.

Melly Questions

What is your favorite kind of music to perform?

I enjoy performing in projects where the voice is used as more of an instrumental texture, which sounds strange because I also enjoy performing these wild electronic opera like The Little Death where I'm featured as a soloist, and I am the vocalist for Newspeak, a hybrid rock-classical band so I'm definitely used to being center stage, but given the choice, I really feel at home when I'm an integral part of a larger texture.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

I desperately want to be writing more of my own things and want to incorporate voice and electronics, so I've been listening to a lot of Juana Molina and Imogene Heap. I've also been blessed to work with Shara Worden on a few projects this year. She's truly an inspiration to me, like a vocal soulmate. We both have degrees in classical singing but balance a pop-indie career as well. A lot of my other colleagues might look down on some of the career choices I've made, but I've learned that the musical choices I make when singing supporting vocals on something like a Victoire track are just as important as writing ornaments for a Handel aria, it's all about artistry.

What is your next big project?

Newspeak has an album dropping in November with New Amsterdam Records, which is the same label that Victoire and The Little Death:Vol. 1 have albums on, so I'll be pretty busy with some concerts on the East coast this fall promoting that. I'm also gearing up for a week long run of Timberbrit, an electronic opera about Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake by Jacob Cooper in which I'm playing Britney.

--Interview by Laura Lee Burkhardt

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Show Review - Matt Marks and Mellissa Hughes, w/ Enlou, Victoire and Midge Crickett - 8/7/10 - Most Wanted Fine Arts - Pittsburgh - Concert Review

Saturday August seventh promised to be a unique and varied night for the thirty or so people at Most Wanted Fine Arts. The line-up seemed fit for a super-talented, very varied variety show sent from the gods. It is a rarity to find so much skill, style, and entertainment from three hours of live music. The show started with Midge Crickett, a PGH native, who delivered witty, whimsical, satire and humor with her own sultry voice, cello, and ukulele. Then Matt Marks and Mellissa Hughes informed us of a place “where the grass is really greener.” Followed by a five piece classical group, Victoire. Then the surprise ending that was, Enlou.

Midge Crickett set the bar high for the rest of the acts to follow. I had never heard of her until Saturday, however, she said she plays a number of showcases and shows. It is hard to explain her style, as it is a unique display. She told stories of how her songs about bank overdraw, telemarketing, being the “best in the burgh,” and reverse-vampires came to be. Such a commentary sent ripples of chuckles through the small audience, and ultimately warmed up the audience as any good opening act should.
I was very excited for the next act, Matt Marks (Melly and Mafoo, if you will). While researching the show I stumbled across a great Paula Abdul cover (“Straight Up”) and a music video (“I Don’t Have Any Fun On My Own”) from Matt Mark’s post-christian nihilistic pop-opera, Little Death: Vol. 1. I was interested to see how Matt and Mellissa could pull off such varying numbers. I was embarrassed that I had ever doubted them after I heard the first couple of songs. Melly and Mafo o are intense in such a way performance-wise that makes you watch, and love them. They played selections from Little Death as well as the Paula Abdul cover and a cover of Kety Perry’s “California Girls” with their own twist, of course.

After the first two sets I was baffled how the show could get any better, but within the first few bars of Victoire’s set it was apparent that there was never a musician on stage inept of a deep appreciation as well as talent for music. Victoire is an all girl five piece classical/electronic collective from Brooklyn. It was entertaining to watch and indulge audibly in their pro musicianship. It was as if I was listening to the soundtrack of an unearthly dream from which I wish I could never wake. They even brought Melly up to sing a small vocal feature!
Enlou threw me off a bit when I heard they were on the bill, but the show could not have ended in a better way. It is easy to stand out when you are the only band with a drum kit, but I am fairly certain even if Enlou would have played with other bands in their indie-pop-rock genre they would have left a mark on their audience. It was the kind of back-to-normal set I needed after being so out of my comfort zone for the first three acts. I came up with about a hundred analogies to describe their intoxicating sound but eventually narrowed it down to a more guitar-driven Paper Route + The Local Natives + Vampire Weekend + Phoenix + a Vibraphone. These Cincinnati guys are sweethearts on stage and off and described their affinity for Pittsburgh after coming out of the Fort Pitt Tunnels as, “The Secret Garden for a band on tour.”

Saturday night was thoroughly enjoyable the moment Midge Crickett started until I had helped Enlou with loading up the last bits of their equipment. I advise that you not miss an opportunity to go to Most Wanted for shows, or pass up a chance to see any of the bands on the bill.

-Laura Lee Burkhardt

Ozzfest/Nonpoint Ticket Winner

Congratulations to Derik L. who won the pair of tickets supplied by Nonpoint to see Ozzfest next week. Thanks to all those who entered.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Show Preview - We Are Scientists w/ Bad Veins - Brillobox - 8/15/10

We Are Scientists and Bad Veins will be playing at the Brillobox Sunday, 8/15. I had the pleasure of reviewing  and interviewing Bad Veins a year ago. They put on a really amazing show even making my top 10 of concerts of 2009. They have been gaining more exposure lately appearing on ABC's 'Amplified' segment and touring nonstop to larger audiences than was at Garfield Artworks. They are also supporting a new ep Outliers featuring songs that didn't fit into their strong self titled debut.

Bad Veins - Falling Tide from Soft City Lights on Vimeo.

We Are Scientists are a band I meant to catch but missed when they came through last time. This is a band that has had great success in Europe appearing at Leeds, Reading most recently Glastonbury Festivals. While definitely popular in Europe, they have quite a large following stateside.They are also a duo (now) touring behind their fourth album Barbara. The album has been receiving rave reviews both abroad and domestic. A sampling:

"They've unleashed a fistful of songs that'd do any of the mid-noughties breakthrough brigade prouder than many of them can still conceive....all the ingredients are absolutely there for a thoroughly explosive reaction"

"The New York-based Californians continue to round the spiky indie-rock edges off their 2006 party-hard debut...hungry verses about relationships that glide into giant choruses. A solid step forward for a band unfathomably more popular in the UK than their homeland."

The band is also known for their live shows bringing their dance punk aesthetic. I have seen video of them and the crowd is definitely having a fun time. Also, the band has a song entitled "Pittsburgh" so how bad could they really be?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lollapalooza 2010

Just a reminder we are currently at Lollapalooza. Be sure to follow us on twitter.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ticket Giveaway - Ozzfest with Nonpoint - 8/19/10 - First Niagara Pavilion - Pittsburgh

Nonpoint will be playing at Ozzfest 2010 at the First Niagara Pavilion on 8/19/10. We previously did a giveaway with them here. They were kind enough to offer another ticket giveaway, this time to Ozzfest. To enter just email your name to this address. All entries must be received by 8/10.

Go here to see the full lineup. Good luck

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Friday Night Lights & AA Bondy

Anyone ever watch Friday Night Lights? For my money one of the best dramas on TV currently (with Mad Men). Musically they are known for their eclectic soundtrack including Explosions in the Sky, Patsy Cline, Heartless Bastards and AA Bondy. If you are familiar I have hyped Bondy quite a bit over the last year and a half which can be found here, here and here. The last couple of episodes they have played Bondy with segments of the show. It's nice to see him get some due even for a popular cult show. It really gets you involved when you hear it with video and pivitol moments. Hope he continues to grow in popularity.