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

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