Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Shows and Albums of 2011

And we continue down our 'best of' list with Shannon Smith. I don't get the appeal of Bon Iver by the way. Overrated. But whatever.

Top 2011 Albums

1. Bon Iver - 'Bon Iver, Bon Iver'
2. M83 - 'Hurry Up We're Dreaming'
3. Zola Jesus - 'Conatus'

Top 2011 Shows

1. Future Islands - Mr Smalls - 10.26.11
2. Mogwai - Mr Smalls - 4.27.11
3. Cold Cave - Brillobox - 5.22.11

--Shannon Smith

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top Shows and Albums of 2011

There is something inexplicable about this time of year that always gives me goosebumps. I don't know if it's the power of Christmas, change of season or seeing family and friends with an annual visit. I was feeling this nostalgia until I drove home today and proceeded to get in an accident, which will cost me dearly, tacking onto my over budgeted xmas travels and spending. Of course my fault.....But another year. We begin our countdown of the top albums and shows of 2011 by writer. First up is Jonathon Puff who saw more out of area shows this year while racking up plenty of skymiles. Here are his list:

Top 2011 Albums

1. Metronomy - The English Rivieria
3. Death Grips - Ex-Military
4. Radiohead - The King of Limbs
5. Panda Bear - Tomboy
6. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
7. Modeselektor - Monkeytown
8. The Antlers - Burst Apart
9. My Morning Jacket - Circuital
10. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

Top 2011 Shows (Yes, I saw more shows outside of PGH this year)

1. My Morning Jacket - Bonnaroo Manchester, TN
2. LCD Soundsystem - Last Show - MSG - NYC, NY
3. Queens of the Stone Age - HOB, Cleveland, OH
4. The Avett Brothers - Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
5. James Blake - The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA
6. Eminem - Bonnaroo Manchester, TN
7. Band of Skulls - Bonnaroo Manchester, TN
8. Portishead - The Greek Theater, Berkeley, CA
9. Arcade Fire - Bonnaroo Manchester, TN
10. Mogwai - Mr. Smalls, Pittsburgh, PA

--Jonathon Puff

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Show Review - Beirut - 12.10.11 - Altar Bar - Pittsburgh - Concert Review - Live Review

Two surprising sold out evenings with Beirut, two stellar shows. The location of the venue seemed suited for Beirut themselves. Housed at the Altar Bar, a refurbished Basilica Church, the band mixes Eastern European folk with indie and Mexican funeral. The opener for the evening was Perfume Genius, aka Mike Hadreas, whose bedroom music I have enjoyed for the past few months. Featured on Matador Records, PM is releasing a new album in February, but his performance this evening was overshadowed by a boisterous crowd. Not once could I discern his music, much less is lyrics. The capacity Pittsburgh audience didn’t let him have a chance (checkout the video). He would be better featured in a venue such as Club Café or Club Stage AE (not Brillo).

The audience was more respectful when Beirut made their appearance, cheering upon their entry before bringing it down to a hush tone for the first song ‘Scenic World’. Lead man Zach Condon led the six piece band which included among other instruments trumpet, tuba, trombone and accordion making a mix of their soviet mariachi sound. Their live performance transcends their albums bringing a mesh of warm and heavy sound without much improvisation from the band or banter between songs. The group was tight creating the passion and zeal for the sold out onlookers who hung on every note.

The 23 year old Zach Condon came out by himself for the encore beginning with ‘The Penalty’ on the ukulele. For such a young man he appears to have grown over the past several years understanding how to entertain, compared to other reviews at the early stages of his career. After the solo, the band arrived again and finished the set with ‘My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille’ and ‘The Gulag Orkestar’. The crowd showed their approval at every tune, replying with clear satisfaction until the set ended.

I didn’t realize how popular Beirut was until the surprising two sold out shows here in Pittsburgh. I could see them growing even larger and soon selling out a place like Heinz Hall where an older audience could appreciate them. Nothing but up for these youngsters. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gone Fishing - Vacation December

We are going fishing for most of December. We will post when we are able. But check out a few videos from recent shows including

Last night. Beirut.

Karkwa. One of the best shows this year in pgh. Too bad there were not more to enjoy. They won the Canadian Grammy.

Waters opening for CYHSY

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Show Preview - Beirut - 12.10 & 12.11 - Altar Bar - Concert Preview

The show of the month is without a doubt Beirut performing at the Altar Bar for two straight evenings sponsored by 91.3 WYEP. Just so happens that both nights are already sold out, so good luck in finding at ticket (or you can try winning a pair from Mr Hugh Shows). The band is touring behind their new album Rip Tide released this past June. 

Beirut is Zach Codon. Spending time both in Newport News and Santa Fe, Codon dropped out of HS when he was 16. He began working in an international cinema coming into influences of Balkan and Sicilian Brass. His music is often synonymous with the exotic mysteries of world travel. Since Beirut's last album, 2007's The Flying Club Cup, sang a love letter to France (with a 2009 stop-off in Mexico for the March of the Zapotec EP) many have asked where his songs would voyage next. Lots of guesses, but few predicted the inward journey Condon has achieved on The Rip Tide, an album with the most introspective and memorable songs of his young career.

From his press regarding the label:

The album is on Pompeii Records, a label started and wholly owned by Condon. Pompeii is a fully independent, artist run, label and it is releasing The Rip Tide internationally. This extreme level of creative control is what the band has always preferred. Shows often sell-out because they choose to play smaller, more intimate venues. This connection directly to fans extends to The Rip Tide release itself, the desire to be able to 100% decide what their music will sound, look, and feel like, not to mention how it can be obtained.

Shows begin at 8p with Perfume Genius opening. Find more information here:

Show Preview - Delicious Pastries - Record Release Show - 12.9.11 - Thunderbird Cafe

We featured Delicious Pastries back in May of last year. Well come to find out they are holding their first album release show this Friday, 12.9. The performance will be at the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawerenceville and will also include locals Good Night, States. Their new album is entitled Pretty Please and features their 60's retro pop sound. Below is the track to their first single and "Safe & Sound":

Show begins at 10p with tickets only $7. Everyone who attends will receive a digital download code for the entire album free. You can find more information about the album and show at these below links:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ticket Giveaway - Karkwa - 12.7.11 - Brillobox - Pittsburgh - Show Preview

As previously mentioned Karkwa will be playing at Brillobox tomorrow night. We have a pair of tickets to giveaway! Just email us with your name to:

Winner will be chosen tomorrow. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Interview - Waters - 12.6.11 - Mr Smalls - Pittsburgh - Show Preview - Concert Preview

As previously mentioned, Waters will be opening for Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah tomorrow night at Mr Smalls. We were finally able to get an interview with frontman Van Pierszalowski before the show. We spoke about his time in Oslo, working with a new band and how the weather had an impact on the album. Be sure to checkout his site. Without further ado:

What made you go to Oslo once your previous band broke up? Why Oslo? What did you discover there that made you want to continue music?

Well, I first went to Oslo because I met a girl on tour there with my previous band.  After the band broke up, I didn't have a place of my own, and I knew I wanted to recharge and restart, and Oslo turned out the perfect place to do that.  

From your bio you continued to write while spending time in Alaska, Cali and eventually Brooklyn. How do these songs differ from your previous venture, Port O Brien?

The songs on this record were worked on a lot more than the songs in Port O'Brien.  That band took ideas and chunks of melodies and threw them together in a pretty loose way.  I wanted WATERS to be more focused on the songwriting.  I wanted to spend the time to develop the songs more before we got into the studio.  

You went back to Oslo to flesh these songs out with other musicians. Why Oslo? And then record in Dallas?

I knew I had some amazing musicians to work with in Oslo that could really help bring this project to life.  Nikolai (my guitarist) had done a tour with Port O'Brien, and I knew I worked with him well.  And two of his best friends happened to be an amazing drummer, and an amazing bassist, so it really just fell into place.

Was there a theme you were attempting to project on the album? Or do these songs all stand on their own?

I never try to write songs along a certain theme.  That being said, I think there are some pretty obvious lyrical threads that run through the record.  

You are touring behind your album Out In The Light. The musicians that assisted you from Oslo, will they be touring with you as well?

My guitarist Nikolai is playing in the band.  I have a new California based rhythm section of Nicholas Wolch on drums and Alex Margitich on bass.  This band is the best band I've ever had.  I really have never had this much fun in the live setting.

You are more rocking (electric) than on your past venture. What made you decide to go into this direction?

I think the songs really made that decision.  I've always desired to make the songs be whatever they want to be.  All of the records I've made have some more rocking songs, and some more gentle songs.  This one just turned out to be pretty aggressive, and I wanted the production to match that.

How was working with producer John Congleton? What made you choose him? What did he bring to the table that you weren’t expecting?  

He was amazing to work with.  He kept things raw and focused.  He distrusted any effort to tidy things up or make things pretty sounding.  He made me proud of the imperfections of my voice, and really pushed me in ways that helped make the record be honest.

Was there something in Oslo that inspired you or any of these other areas you spent time in?

All of the places that I spent time in, from Oslo to Alaska to New York, were very inspiring.  I would say that I'm always inspired more by whats going on in my personal relationships than in my relationships to the places I'm in, but the context of moving around a lot, of all these diverse environments, definitely left its mark on the record.

In the bio it mentions that this is the first time you experienced seasons and this had something to do with your writing process. Is this accurate?

Yes.  Growing up in the central coast of California, its pretty much always "hoodie" weather.  I never even thought about buying a coat or a jacket throughout my whole life.  To be all of a sudden immersed in Oslo and New York, with their very noticeable seasonal differences definitely makes it easier to mark the passage of time, and you grow to appreciate the warmer weather much more.  The seasons made me feel further away from home, and distanced myself from the cozy California scene that made me better able to reflect on what I was leaving behind.

You have some interesting videos. Did you take an active part in the creation of them? Or were these a skeleton that you had and someone took over with the rest?

Well, the video for "For the One" was definitely the vision of the director, Allen Cordell.  I can't take much credit for that at all.  I do try to be as involved as possible in all aspects of the project, but I realize I'm not a film maker in any way, so I love picking people that I really want to work with and letting them go wild.

 Was there any theme to the new album?

I would say the theme is waking up, and starting over, and not caring about what you're leaving behind.

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

There wasn't anything specific, really.  I just knew its the only thing I really ever wanted to do.  Still, I can't imagine doing anything else with my life.  Working in Alaska on my dad's boat is the only other thing I can think of that would really make me happy.

How do you go about creating your music? Do you all contribute to the lyrics and music?

Almost all of the songs on the WATERS record were totally completed being written before I brought them into the band.  A few songs got tinkered with during the rehearsal process, or by our producer John Congleton, but by and large, they were obsessed over before they were ever really played through.  The band has an enormous amount of impact on how the songs end up sounding.  But for this record, I spent over a year by myself obsessing over the style and content of these songs on my own.

What would you like to accomplish with this project? Are there any goals you have?

I really want to be able to keep touring, making records, and to be able to make a living off of it.  I realize that's getting harder and harder these days, but that's definitely the goal.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

I really can't wait to play in the area again.  I've only done it once, but I had such a great time, and I hope I can explore the area a little more this time around. *

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Show Preview - Waters w/Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah - 12.6.11 - Mr Smalls - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Waters will be appearing at Mr Smalls this Tuesday, 12.6 opening for Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah. Van Pierszalowski is the lead and major contributor to WATERS having previously spent his time as a member of Port O' Brien. At the time POB broke up, Van became a roaming soul settling in such areas as Oslo, Norway, Alaska and Brooklyn. The band just recently released his first LP Out in the Light this past September to positive reviews. Von has put a great deal of time and years into this project which you can hear below.

From their bio:

Spring 2010 saw the demise of Port O’Brien, and founding member/front man Van Pierszalowski needed a break from the hectic, wonderful mess that is touring. He stumbled into respite in Oslo, Norway, and spent some time away from making music. Van explored the new city, swam in the Norwegian fjords, enjoyed the weather and the experience of seasons changing. He found his bearings and fell in love again.

Inspiration arrived and as he wrote, Van was compelled to fuel the process further by changing his environment once more. He spent most of the next year traveling: to Alaska, where he’d spent summers working on his father’s commercial salmon fishing boat; to California, where he’d grown up in a seaside town off Highway 1; and eventually to New York, where in Brooklyn he endured relentless blizzards and a cold nearly reminiscent of Oslo.

Van gave his new project a name: WATERS. These new songs he wrote veered away from the frequently loose, punchy anthems of Port O’Brien, and as he intensively pieced each one together, he sought a bigger sound – something louder than he could play on his own. So Van returned to Oslo, where his new journey had begun. He put together a band of fine Norwegian gentlemen and spent every day of the next two months rehearsing in a small practice space outside of the city.

The show begins at 8p with doors opening at 7p. Tickets are 17 and can be found here

Friday, December 2, 2011

Show Preview - Karkwa - 12.7.11 - Brillobox - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Many times bands come through our third tier market that you don't recognize nor take a listen. Do yourself a favor and check Karkwa now. The band hails from Montreal, Canada and just released their fourth LP, Les Chemins de Verre (The Glass Pathways). The highly acclaimed album just happened to win the the Polaris Music Prize (Canada's equivalent of the Grammy). They are recently coming off a tour opening for local legends Arcade Fire (Polaris winners as well) that included playing to over 100k at the 10th Anniversary of Pop Montreal.

The one rub that some might feel is their lyrics are all in French. Well, if you like Sigur Ros, etc. then take a moment and listen, this will blow you away. The band is also known for their powerful live shows, often selling out in Europe and of course their home country. They are only playing three US dates, and somehow Pittsburgh has made the cut. The other two, Chicago and New York.

From their press:

Karkwa is singer/guitarist Louis-Jean Cormier, drummer Stéphane Bergeron, keyboardist François Lafontaine, bassist Martin Lamontagne and percussionist/singer Julien Sagot. Their music is described as "restlessly inventive" and has earned the band a groundswell of popular and critical praise.

Les Chemins De Verre was recorded in part at La Frette studios in Paris. (Feist's The Reminder was also recorded here as well as legends like Serge Gainsbourg.) An inspirational venue dating from the 19th century, the building became the sixth member of the band as they returned there time and again during their French tour. A lively collection based on spontaneous impulses of creativity, this album was put together without pre-production for a more organic and impressionistic sound.

Doors are at 9p while show begins at 9:30p. Tickets can be found here

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Commentary on Local Shows

I just completed a 3 month run of 60+ hours with a second job ending this past week. Since I haven't added commentary in a while, I am going to do so now regarding shows I have been fortunate to attend recently.

The big surprise came with the announcement of Levi's Braddock benefit. Many top indie acts played over a 3 night series at the Braddock library. I decided to skip out on the first night of Andrew Bird because he is consistently the most boring live act I have seen (that include 5 times). And for Andrew Bird apologists, his music is good, but you are kidding yourself if you believe he is a quality performer. He's equivalent to Animal Collective, the kind of act that just suckered you into paying $25 for a ticket, and another $25 in alcohol so you could tolerate the night.

We went the second night and checked out Built To Spill with Atlas Sound. I have to say Atlas Sound wasn't my thing in a live setting, however the stage lights and aesthetic made up for it. Whoever Levi's contracted for the stage setup did an admirable job. Bradford Cox (Atlas Sound) played solo the entire night and quite well. However, if there had been a beer tent I would have been the first in line. It wasn't bad, but it just droned on and on.

There is not enough words to describe the two decades of work Built To Spill has produced. Onstage they are the tightest act you will see live. They also don't skimp out on the their hit songs, playing a wide range from their catalogue. The only problem with BTS is that there is no draw visually to them. They don't say or do much with the crowd. But they are so loud and composed, you really don't notice.Some kid asked Doug Martsch if everyone could stand, which I wish he would have said no. It's such a PITA trying to look over a 6'5" dude in a theater setting, there is nowhere to move. Doug et al were well worth it.

I had never heard of Fitz and the Tantrums before they made their stop at Mr Smalls earlier this month. Their show was not just about the music, but the flash, dance and outfits they brought to stage. Drawing back to some doo-wop groups from the 60's, the band mirrored a lost time when performance was just as important as the music. The place was almost at sellout capacity with quite a variety of ages. FATT probably need a few more songs to keep their momentum. While they have their hits "Moneygrabber" and "Don't Gonna Work It", I feel a few of the songs just fell flat on the crowd. But a very fun band to watch.

Last act I want to mention is ExitMusic who opened for Phantogram at Mr Smalls in October. I really was looking forward to this show because Aleksa Palladino is on Boardwalk Empire (currently my favorite show) and secondly, because their EP is pretty good. They are in the genre of dream pop with such acts as Beach House or Grizzly Bear. The show was decent with the Aleska and her husband only addressing the crowd once. They will have to decide whether they want to take this project into a pop or ambient setting. The amusing thing I found was Aleska, who probably makes a million a year acting, drinking PBR. Now I am all for a cheap ass beer when I need to stretch a buck, but come on. Really? PBR? That is a bit much.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Show Preview - Anti-Flag - 11.26.11 - Mr Smalls - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Anti-Flag will be making a last minute stop this Thanksgiving weekend at Mr Smalls on Saturday, 11.26. It's the first appearance for the hometown heroes in over 7 months. In honor of the holiday, if you bring a non perishable food item (which will be donated to the Pgh Food Bank) you will receive a special gift from the band. Here is Chris talking about the upcoming show:

Also appearing on this special bill are Cancer Bats (Canucks), The Menzingers, The Holy Mess (Philly) and Mace Ballard. As you are probably aware Anti-Flag are politically active on many fronts including the recent  Occupy Wall Street movement. This is what they had to say:

It has almost been a month since protesters fed up with corporatism first began occupying Zuccotti Park in the financial district of New York City. While many have extended their support to the people there, just as many have expressed their regret that they could not help in the occupation more directly. October 15th (today) marks a special day, in that thousands (perhaps millions) of people in nearly 1000 cities worldwide are planning similar occupations.On October 15th, Occupy Wall Street will demonstrate in concert over 951 cities in 82 countries and counting as people around the globe protest in an international day of solidarity against the greed and corruption of the 1%.

Tickets to the show are $15 and can be found here through Opus One. There is also a special ticket/poster bundle for $25 that can be found here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Show Preview - Grieves and Budo - 11.26.11 - Stage AE - Pittsburgh Concert Preview

Ryhmesayers artist Grieves and Budo will be making a stop at Stage AE this Saturday. The Seattle based duo creates quick witted lyrics over substantial beats. They are touring behind their new album Together/Apart released this year. From their bio:

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Benjamin Laub, better known as Grieves, was exposed to music at a young age by his father, who would take him to Jazz and Blues clubs. As he moved about the country he began to expand his listening to include the sounds of punk and Hip Hop. In 2003 he ended up in Seattle and completely immersed himself in the art form, honing these varied influences into songwriting. Alone and in a new city, he secluded himself in his apartment where the only furniture was his bed, a TV, and an MPC 2000XL. Finding opportunities to perform in small clubs and venues around town, he began funding and booking his own regional tours. After self-releasing his debut album Irreversible in 2007, Grieves took that momentum out on the road, developing an ever growing fan base from the west to east coast.

Grieves would eventually hook up with a talented producer and multi-instrumentalist by the name of Budo. In 2008 the duo created 15 tracks of sample-free, melody-driven, analog warmth titled 88 Keys & Counting, a combination of singing and rapping tethered together by guitar, horn, and keyboard driven instrumentals. Mainly a digital release, 88 Keys & Counting was welcomed with rave reviews and earned the attention of Minneapolis based label, Rhymesayers Entertainment, who have reissued the album, released The Confessions of Mr. Modest. as well as the duo’s new LP Together/Apart.

The show begins at 8p with doors at 7p. Tickets are only $10 and can be found here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Local Spotlight - Matt Kiefer - December 2011 - Pittsburgh

Matt Kiefer is our December local spotlight of the month. We are posting a bit early due to vacations in December. Matt was kind enough to answer our normal barrage of questions. You can also find his music streaming throughout the interview. Also find links to his sites at the bottom. 

How did the band come together? Were you all friends that went to school?

Matt Kiefer Music is just me...Matt Kiefer playing, writing, and recording all the instruments. Ive been playing guitar and writing songs for about 10 years now. I picked up the bass and drums a few years back around the time I started getting into recording my own music. I got into punk rock when i was about 14 years old and all that aggression and angst made me want to play music because It was easy to play that stuff and it felt really good to be able to jam along with my favorite records and feel that sound coming out of my amp and to feel like I knew what i was doing. Ive got some childhood friends who are great musicians that I occasionally bring in for recordings when the drums are too technical for me to play, or the piano is real melodic up and down all over the keys, or the bass needs a super groovy feel that i cant lay down, that only a REAL bassist can provide! (laughs) The people who've been with me since day 1 though are usually the ones accompanying me for live shows and tours.


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

I would describe my sound as very chill and super melodic. Kinda like a lazy Sunday afternoon feel. Wake up late, lay around the house, just relax and enjoy the moment and all that you have. If i had to compare it to an already existing band, then I would say the songs probably most resemble Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon, which are some of my biggest influences, without trying too hard to sound like them (laughs)

Are you all originally from the Pittsburgh area? Families here as well?

Yep! Proudly born and raised right in the inner city of Pittsburgh right on the North Side. My family has lived in the same house since I was born. Top of Federal St. in the heart of Fineview. One of the best kept secrets for a great view of the city.

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

Yeah music is my full time gig. I do work part time to pay rent for the studio when I'm not touring on my music or filling in with other bands. I actually live in my studio on the South Side. I like it this way because it forces to me create whenever I feel lazy. (laughs) I look around at everything and think to myself "Sheesh, I should be utilizing all this stuff and really making something out of this!" 


 Do you have day jobs?

Yeah I do part time Proofreading for a mortgage firm. The atmosphere is super corporate but they're actually pretty cool about all my tattoos and letting me go on tours and being late all the time. (laughs)

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

The Songwriting process for me can either be extremely quick or painstakingly slow. It usually starts with me just messing around on the guitar or with a new tuning and coming up with some little melodies. From there I try to really think about what that melody is saying or describing to me, whether it be a memory, a feeling, or a past experience, without really thinking about it too much. I put more focus on the feel of the melody rather than writing it by "the rules" or some chromatic scale or whatever. Then I just noodle around until I have a song 2 hours later and Ive fully captured what it was that initially inspired me. The best songs, for me anyways, are usually the ones where I just pick up the guitar and press record on the board and whatever comes out I keep. Those songs that just come and take 15 minutes to write and record are usually the "hits," or the ones that everyone digs the most.

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

Labels are nice because they expose music to mass amounts of people whether it be through mass distribution and marketing on a national scale, or through getting you on package touring deals opening up for bigger name bands that have a good draw at shows. Once you've inked the the deal, the label is always there when you need them...for the most part. Just remember...You got to pay all that money back! But being a completely independent artist these days has its advantages too. You don't have a producer in the studio with you shaping your songs and hindering artistic direction and telling you what "people want or don't want to hear," you get to keep all your own money from merch and cd sales and shows(laughs), and you don't have to meet the image guidelines of what some dudes in suits sitting in an office want, thinking they know what the youth or public of today can relate to or will buy. I mean, it would be great to be back on a label but its not really something I think about too all.

My goals are pretty attainable: Just to continue writing and recording music that is honest and means something to me and that will make me super happy when I listen back to it and keep traveling meeting new people and seeing new things all over this country. Ive always booked all my own tours so getting out on the roads never a problem, and I'm always in the studio working on new stuff so when Its time to release some new music Ive usually got a collection to choose from rather than sweating some deadline the labels pressuring me to meet. All I really want is to stay creating my own path, tour when I want, and give my lady some nice things.


What advice would you give to local acts trying to make it?

You've got to work hard. Especially in this city. You've got to always be writing and recording and just working on new music and playing lots of shows, promoting yourself to everyone and bringing the music to the people. Find out who your supporters are and cater to them. Let them into your world. Make youtubes, talk to all your supporters on twitter and facebook, make a mailing list at shows to stay in touch and let them know that you really appreciate their support, and don't stop giving them new music to listen to. Sometimes you got to keep all the parties and all the girls and all that stuff on the back burner and keep focus on what it is youre trying to achieve because all that other stuff can slow you down quick. In this day and age where anyone can record a great sounding album at home affordably and book their own tours, you've got to really have something unique that stands out from everyone else. Dont lose sight of your path, stay in your lane and be sure to commit to what youre trying to accomplish. Dont ever allow anyone elses grief or negativity to affect what you love.

Have you all toured nationally? Or do you usually stay more regionally?

Yeah ive been all over. Pacific Northwest, like Seattle, Oregon...absolutely my favorite places. California and their Medical Laws are pretty dope too! My friends take good care of me when I get out there. The Northeast New England area is probably my second favorite region to get to, especially in the Fall season. Never made it to Wyoming, Montana or Idaho though. Not sure if anythings even going on over there! (laughs)

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

Well, hmmmm... thats a hard question to answer. Pittsburgh is not a super hip town but at the same time its very interesting and is home to a lot of diverse cultures. The night life is usually closed up by 2:30 a.m. around here but the art scene continues deep into the night. Without offending anyone Id have to say the music scene isnt that thriving here but yet theres always a local show to catch. I'm only 24 but Ive been in this 'scene' for 10 years now and to this very day things are still the same as they were in 2001: Lots of cover bands, lots of standardized Metal bands, and lots of Pop/Punk and Pop Rock bands. If you fit into any of those 3 genres then you shouldnt have a hard time gaining some interest from people in this city. People here just want to go out on the weekends, have some drinks, hear some catchy tunes in the background while bullshitting with their friends and watch Sports. Nothing wrong with that at all. I do it 5 nights a week (laughs). Pittsburgh lost a lot of great music venues in the past few years which probably has effected the type of local music thats being created. Shit, Don Caballero said they moved to Chicago because there was no place for them to play around here. But thanks to people like Manny at Garfield Artworks, the crew at Mr Smalls, Josh Bakaitus and the Drusky Ent. team, and the good folks down Club Cafe as well as all the other venues, we're starting to see a resurgence of live music not only from local bands but also from national acts returning often throughout the year. Pittsburgh has also been getting a lot of attention from the Mainstream world as of late with movies, rappers, and sports. I think Pittsburgh is the next big city to blow up. I just hope I'm here and not out on tour when It happens! (laughs)


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

Sports, drinking, and dance club scenes are more of what the majority of the locals are interested in. But again thats ok. We are entitled to do whatever we please. Also, despite there being more places for local bands to play, theres usually always some sort of ticket sale requirement. $10-12 for a local show? Doesnt make sense. You go to Chicago or New York or Texas, hell even L.A. and the local shows are usually no more than $5-8.

For a band trying to gain exposure in this city, ticket sale requirements are holding them back. I used to hate hitting my friends up with tickets all the time. If a band wants to play out every weekend, your supporters are spending roughly $50-$75 a month just on ticket sales to get into the club to see you play. Rough.

What are the positive benefits of being in the area?

Everyone knows everyone here or knows someone that knows someone and word of mouth spreads very quick. This city is made up of hardworking, blue collar respectable people and those are the kinds of people you can trust and rely on. There is an underground community here comprised of Tri-State area transplants, art-school drop outs, musicians, poets, and street dwelling urchins alike that all just want to have some drinks and good conversation. I recommend checking out this House Venue in Mt. Oliver called 222 Ormsby...You'll see what I mean. Oh...and its also insanely cheap to live in Pittsburgh which makes touring, even in this economy, pretty stable.

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

I wouldnt say theres any place I enjoy playing more than others because they all are extremely fun and its an honor to be able to play for anyone in a room with a PA system. I really like what the Smiling Moose did with the upstairs, building a stage and buying some rad lights. I'm glad Altar Bar exists now because its super dope and the sound system is superb. Mr Smalls was the first of its kind and for them and those kind folks I'm forever indebted and extremely respectful of. I really do enjoy the smaller venues a bit more though. The Garfield Artworks, 222 Ormsby, and South Side VFW shows, etc. are always just so intimate and its not hard at all to instantly connect with your supporters in the crowd.

You can find more information about at these sites:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Local Spotlight - The Long Time Darlings - November 2011 - Pittsburgh

For the month of November we are going to have 2 local spotlights due to vacation in December. Our first spotlight focuses on The Long Time Darlings, a self described straightforward rock n roll band. We asked them our normal aray of questions including how the band came together and how they feel about Pittsburgh. If you read their answers, they are pretty amusing. Be sure to take a listen to their album streaming throughout.  

 How did the band come together?

We all knew each other from prison. Had an outfit on the inside called “Jailbreak.” We toured all the stoney lonesome’s in the tri-state area on a work release program.

Sike! As awesome as that would be, we actually came together through a mixture of school and mutual friends. We all loved ass-kicking rock and roll and wanted to write and perform that kind of music.

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

A description of our sound to someone who has never heard us would go a little something like this: ZZ Top, The Doors, and half of Black Sabbath all fell into a wood chipper, and shot out the musical goo that is The Long Time Darlings’ sound.

Are you all originally from the Pittsburgh area? Families here as well?

Sproul and Doug were born and raised in the Blawnox/Springdale/Fox Chapel area. Reid hails from Ligonier, and Brett is from San Francisco, Williamsport, Kansas, and Austin, but considers Pittsburgh home indefinitely. Everyone’s family is still around, with the exception of Brett, who’s family lives in Minneapolis, San Antonio, and Maryland. Seeing a trend here? Brett is a no-good transient vagabond.

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

We certainly create music full time, we’re always writing and throwing ideas around, demo-ing songs and re-structuring them and recording. But we don’t make a living off of music, not yet anyways, but we will eventually, otherwise we’ll all commit suicide.

Do you have day jobs?

Yes. Hence the suicide comment.

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

Sproul is the riff man, Brett is the lyric man, Doug and Reid are the structure men. On our new debut full-length record “Honey Tree Evil Eye” , our writing process really took form, Sproul would bring a nasty riff to practice, we’d cause some jammage with it, then Brett would go home to his lyric laboratory and Doug and Reid would drink a case of beer and listen to Dream Theater. Then we’d go back to practice and tuck in all the corners of the tune and high five the rock gods.

What are your goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish? Are you trying to get signed to a label?
Our goal for the band is to play exciting rock shows and release memorable, invigorating rock records . We wouldn’t say we’re actively trying to get signed, only because we’re still working on a fanbase and local radio/press, etc… although working with a label would be awesome because it gives bands a chance to have larger distribution and to tour with more support. We think the recording industry is in such a state that leads one to believe there are no rules anymore, get your music out there any way you can. Even if that means a free CD for every newborn and you charge the healthcare provider.

What advice would you give to local acts trying to make it?

In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never give in.”

Have you all toured nationally? Or do you usually stay more regionally?

We have toured the northeast as a band although individually we’ve toured all over the world.

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

Not at all, Pittsburgh has every opportunity any other city has for music and art in general.

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

We think we face the same obstacles any other under-the-radar band faces around the world; trying to reach a broader audience with your music, break into press/radio, trying to book better shows, write better music and perform it better live. I don’t think Pittsburgh or any other big city has any advantage over the other, it’s all what you make of it. Just like in Fight Club when Tyler Durden says “You decide your own level of involvement.” There’s many successful acts that come out of Pittsburgh, so obviously it can be done.

What are the positive benefits of being in the area?

Pittsburgh has a thriving music and art scene that’s only getting stronger and it’s really exciting to be a part of it right now. There’s a ton of talent in this city and we’re looking forward to see what happens next.

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

Our first gig was at 31st Street Pub and we packed the place so that will always have a feathered cap in our book, but as far as favorites go we’d have to say Lava Lounge.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Interview with Levi's - Braddock Benefit Concerts - 11.10.11- 11.12.11 - Show Preview

About a month back, out of the blue, Levi's announced they would be holding a 3 night concert series to benefit the town of Braddock. The event features many popular indie acts including Built to Spill, The Hold Steady, Andrew Bird among others. This isn't the first time Levi's has brought attention to the struggling town. They featured several television commercials with its media savvy mayor, John Fetterman, donating 1.5m to his non profit organization. With this benefit show Levi's began a new direction of support by placing the concert series directly in Braddock, attempting to bring people into the town who otherwise wouldn't travel there. The concert series will also be streamed to feature the story for those around the world. We were able to speak with Levi's representative Christian Parkes about the benefit, why Braddock and what they hope to accomplish.

First, how did this event come about? I know levi’s has been helping raise funds for the town of Braddock. Why a concert series?

We wanted to build a program that would work on multiple levels. Obviously, we wanted to raise funds for the town, but we also wanted to bring people to Braddock who may never go there. We also wanted to create a model that could be sustainable for years to come. From a Levi's standpoint, music has always been important to us and with the carnegie library having this incredible music hall, the script really just wrote itself.

Why were these ‘indie’ acts chosen (and not hard rock, jazz, metal, etc)? What was the driving force to pick these groups?

While we're working with bands that we love, we were also deliberate in selecting artists that will fill the library; the more tickets we sell, the more money that goes to Braddock. For this first benefit, we wanted to make sure it would be a success. It's also important to note that these artists are supportive of our efforts and what we're collectively trying to do in Braddock.

How did the collaboration between Levi’s and the city of Braddock come about? Why was this particular town chosen?

Braddock represents a new frontier town in the us today, no one truly knows whether it will shine like the diamond it once was. But that's not going to stop people from trying. In this context, mayor fetterman is very much a pioneer in the work he's undertaking and the change he's influencing. We've carried the principles of pioneering close to our chest since Levi strauss first went west in the 1870's.

Levi’s has already donated over $1.5m to Braddock’s mayor John Fetterman and his non profit organization. Where will this contribution be aimed towards?

Levi's has invested in several community based projects over the past 12 months; the urban farm, nyia page community center, carnegie library, public park. The proceeds from these shows will continue to support programs intentended to better the standard of living for residents in Braddock. The carnegie library will be the single, biggest benefactor of these shows. But we also know we can't do this alone... Before we announced Braddock benefit, we released funds that unlocked a grant from allegheny county to install cctv to help eliminate crime in the town.

Are there plans to hold more concert benefits for the town? Or other events?

We'd love to, and assuming this first venture is a success, who knows what's next.

How long does Levi’s plan to partner with the town of Braddock? Some large strives have been made in reengineering the town. Is there a 5-10 year plan?

In a ideal world, a proud town like Braddock wouldn't need the support of an apparel company, the hope is that it's self sufficient and thriving. What happens next to Braddock is still to be written but i can say that Mayor Fetterman and the residents of Braddock have been great partners from the very first conversation. These are relationships we want to keep building upon.

Braddock was featured in several Levi’s ad campaigns in the past. Will this concert series also be featured to help promote the town?

We'd like to think that every time we talk about Braddock it's helping to promote the town. In addition to the positive pr, we will also be streaming these concerts online, giving us the opportunity to share the story with millions of people all over the world. The hope is that the viewers are compelled to help Braddock, or a 'Braddock' where they live.

The concert series will commence on November 11th and finish on November 13th. Tickets are $25 each and can be found here.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Show Preview - Interview - Rachael Yamagata - Club Cafe - 11.5.11 - Concert Preview

Rachael Yamagata will be performing this evening at Club Cafe. She is touring behind her new album Chesapeake which was just released this past October. In order to create the LP Yamagata teamed up with PledgeMusic, the leading international direct-to-fan platform for musicians raising funds to record and tour. This was a major departure from her having previously release her albums on major labels. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for us on her way to the burgh about Chesapeake, PledgeMusic and why she dedicated her life to music.

You just released your latest LP Chesapeake. I read that you had a different approach to this album from your past ones. Could you explain? How much did others contribute? Was there a sound you were trying to achieve?

We recorded the record much faster than I ever have before. All basic tracking was done in seven days. We were in a house, basically camping out with each other and tracking as a full band for most every song. The group of musicians were integral in how this record developed in that we were our own guides in every aspect. Song choices, arrangements etc were all based on how much inspiration we could find with one another. I wasn't going for any particular sound, but was strategic in the musicians that were in the room. I knew the combination of what each person could bring to the table in terms of style, ideas and vibe would be a great mix.

To help fund the new album you used Pledgemusic. Why did you choose this method? How did it workout for you? How did you decide what to give to those who pledged? 

I knew I needed to raise funds to make the record and tour behind it so started thinking of different options.  A few of my peers had suggested Pledge to me from past campaigns they had run. Most of the majority of the musicians on the record also knew of the folks running Pledge and raved about them. At some point the folks running the company also reached out and spoke in a way about me and my music that really felt in line with how I wanted to continue as an artist. The idea of engaging fans in the very process of making the record, showing behind the scenes of how tracking developed etc seemed so great to me. The system is really meant to have direct contact with the fans and have a mutually beneficial situation result. They want me to keep making music and were integral in helping me do so. I chose the incentives based on what I thought might be interesting as if I were a fan hoping to receive from an artist.

You recently released a Covers EP. How did you go about choosing the songs? Why did you decide to cover the ones you did?

Actually, it isn't officially released yet. It was part of the pledge campaign and available only to them if they chose it as an incentive. I'd always loved the 10CC song 'I'm not in love' and Mike Viola and I found this incredible vintage drum loop from an organ and just started messing around with it. It came about pretty organically. 'At 17' by Janis Ian has also been one of my favorites and I've always wanted to do up a version. 'Meeting Across the River' by Bruce Springsteen was something that my friend Helen turned me onto. Really love the laid back nature of how it came out.

This was a more diy route than your past albums. How did this experience compare? How have the results been?

The amount of work can be at times intimidating and yet the results are so much more gratifying. They all feel very tangible from the first intention to fruition and gone are the days of waiting for answers or changed schedules because some level of approval didn't go through. After the frustration of not being able to release a record in three years within the label system, it's empowering to have gotten everything realized for this one in about four months.

How have your fans reacted to the new record? What is the response like?

So far the reactions have been truly great. Each show we play seems to have more people who know the songs..

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

When I saw the first band I joined 'Bumpus' at a show in Chicago and just marveled at their electric energy onstage. All I knew was I wanted to be up there with them even if just to bang on a tambourine.

How do you go about creating your music? Are all your lyrics personally written by you?

I just try and catch the inspiration when it strikes. I do a lot of watching and observing as well. Unless it's a co-write, all lyrics are by me.

What would you like to accomplish with your next project? Are there any goals you have?

My focus now is really to just continue making records, releasing them quickly and tour as much as I can.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

I'm super excited to play these songs for Pittsburgh and can't wait to see everyone... 

The show begins at 9p with doors at 8p. More information can be found here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ticket Giveaway - Fitz and the Tantrums - 11.7.11 - Mr Smalls - Show Preview

We are a little late getting this, out but better late than never. Fitz and the Tantrums will be appearing at Mr Smalls this Monday, 11/7. I'll be honest, I hadn't heard of this band until recently (shocker), but they are seriously outstanding. We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show. As usual just email us at with your name to enter.

 Feel free to download their new single "Don't Gotta Work It Out" from the below link.


From their press:

In just a year or so, soulsters Fitz & the Tantrums went from the living room to the main stage. The recipe for meteoric success? Six killer musicians, five dapper suits, irresistible songs, some serendipity and one vintage organ. Fitz, the Svengali frontman of the crew, describes the find like the discovery of a compass, or that treasure map in Goonies, which undoubtedly leads to adventure. Not one to say no, Fitz called some piano movers, cashed in some favors, and seven hours later, the organ went from the curb to his living room. That night, Fitz stationed himself in front of that vintage instrument and wrote a blue-eyed soul anthem, “Breaking the Chains of Love.” The overflow of inspiration startled Fitz. He’d spent years in L.A.’s music industry, writing music and working in a studio with Beck producer, Mickey Petralia. But at those 88 keys, just seven hours after that organ dropped into his life, Fitz had finally found his voice.

Show begins at 8p with tickets $20 and can be found here

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Show Preview - Martin Bisi w/ Velcro Shoes - 11.9.11 - Thunderbird Cafe - Concert Preview

Martin Bisi will be playing this Wednesday, 11/9 at the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawerenceville with one of our favorite local bands, Velcro Shoes. Bisi has produced a number of acts including Sonic Youth, Dresden Dolls and Boredoms. He will soon be releasing a new LP entitled Ex Nihilo this coming year.

From his bio:

As a performer and record producer in New York City, Martin Bisi has been at a crossroads of indie/punk, avant garde, noire/cabaret rock, and electronic music since the early 80's. He has realized albums by Sonic Youth, Swans, John Zorn, Africa Bambaataa, The Dresden Dolls, Herbie Hancock's Rockit, Boredoms, Helmet, White Zombie, Cop Shoot Cop, Jon Spencer's Boss Hog, Material/Bill Laswell, Foetus, Serena Maneesh and others. In the live performances he combines heavier post-rock psychedelia with upbeat story-telling indie fare, and unique sound layering.

 Martin Bisi - Ex Nihilo - Fine Line by Martin Bisi

Bisi is readying a new release for 2012, titled Ex Nihilo - Latin for "out of nothing". A darker tone dominates the new release, compared to '08's Sirens Of The Apocalypse and '09's Son Of A Gun EP -more an exploration of the psyche, with cathartic resolution. "Ex Nihilo" means "from, or out of nothing" -usually used in reference to creation by artists or God. The opening track "Suffer The Moon", is a return to the ritualistic quality of his 1988 album Creole Mass. With this new recording, Bisi's continues his history of sonic excess in the studio, which can be ambient and disorienting - as with the art-noise of Sonic Youth, or the industrial sensibilities of Swans and Foetus.

Also performing will be Velcro Shoes which needs to introduction if you follow the blog. You can find information on them here. Show begins at 9p and is only $5.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ticket Giveaway - The Features - Brillobox - 11.12.11- Show Preview

Next Saturday, 11/12 The Features will be appearing at the Brillobox. Hailing from the home of country music, Nashville, TN, the band plays something other than the old time twang. Their brand consists of 60's brit pop infused with psychedelic rock. We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show. As usual just email us with your name to

The band is touring behind their new LP Wilderness out on Kings of Leon label Serpents and Snakes. It has been getting rave reviews from places such as Spin Magazine and The Chicagoist. The band also did a video
for each song off the album explaining the tune and what it means to them.

From their press:

Coming into the studio straight away off the road gave The Features a full head of steam, which meshed with their desire to capture some of their on-stage power. The goal, Pelham says, was to make a record that sounded, “like the band was playing live in your living room.”

The result of the month-long sessions is as painstakingly crafted as it is full-on, with Pelham’s distinctive songcraft expertly matched by the band’s sonic inventiveness. “Big Mama” and “Rambo” had already been staples of The Features’ live show, while tracks like the swingin’ psych-pop opener “Content” were spontaneously created during the pre-production rehearsals. Other highlights include the prog-fueled “Golden Comb, with its dynamic tempo changes and multipart arrangement, and the howling rocker, “Kids,” which brandishes the Tennessean band’s native gift for their own version of meaty, big beat boogie.

Doors are at 9:30p and show is scheduled to begin at 10p. Ticket can be found here