Sunday, May 29, 2011

Show Preview - Javelin - Shadow Lounge - 6/2/11 - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Javelin will be appearing this Thursday at the Shadow Lounge in East Liberty. Javelin appeared at Stage AE back in December. They were one of the first bands to grace the new venue Stage AE, opening for Girl Talk. They put on a heck of a show as the opener that evening and should put on an even better performance in a more intimate venue. Javelin are a electro base duo with R&B influences from the 80's and 90's, straight out of Brooklyn, NY. They are known for their live shows broadcasting a FM signal that allows the audience to participate with the sound via mobile boxes. The band is touring behind No Mas, their first lp coming out this past April.

From our show review:

Javelin was the second act up of the evening as we missed the first. The duo of Thomas Van Buskirk and George Langford play their live setting with a full drum kit and a table filled with electronics. They play in front of a wall of colorful boom boxes with wires sprawling everywhere. Buskirk raps over the samples that are produced with vocals often poking fun of pop culture. Langford backs him up playing the drums and keep a steady beat with the sampling. The crowd was reacting to the duo as they would later on with Girl Talk, dancing away to party-esque music. Buskirk was full of energy, jumping around and enjoying the audience's intensity. It turned into more of a dance club and was a perfect warm up to Girl Talk. The duo ended their set by knocking down the boom boxes which created a wave of excitement and heavy steps from the crowd.

Doors are at 9:30 with show beginning at 10p. Big Freedia and Cucitroa will also be playing.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Show Videos - Pittsburgh

I thought I would post some show videos that I have recorded. Most of these I haven't given a review on, but they definititely stand out. Enjoy.

Pinback played on 4/26. Put on a heck of a show with lead downing as many beers compared to the number of songs they played:

Tristen at Club Stage AE - Too bad there wasn't more at the show

Fantastic show. If you weren't there you really missed out. Top 3 so far without a doubt.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Show Review & Interview - Oberhofer - Brillobox - 5/16/11 - Pittsburgh - Concert Review

The night was in motion—Oberhofer opened for Neon Indian last week at Brillobox. The members of Oberhofer moved spastically and confidently, with a swagger bolstered by five months of moving from city to city, honing their live stagecraft. Geographically, the two bands came to our bridged city from opposite ends of the country, Texas and New York. Each of them kept the crowd in constant motion—a welcome respite from the arms-folded cutouts struck by most audiences. Neon Indian played a surprisingly energetic set designed to hook the crowd. The band I really came to see, though, was Oberhofer.

A year ago, Brad Oberhofer was an unknown young musician making recordings in his basement and sending them out to music blogs. His music was catchy, compelling, and is steadily gaining an audience. I saw them here back in January, on the first date of their first real tour. Again in March, some friends and I caught the band again in Austin at SXSW; they were tighter, louder, and more powerful. Their show tonight once again shows that they are getting better and better.

I bounded up the stairs to interview Brad Oberhofer after the band’s set was over. He was sitting on a couch with a keyboard over his knees, coughing. “Sorry, I’m sick,” he said. Watching the show, I wouldn’t have guessed it. The band members—Brad, Pete, Dylan, and Matt—each dove headfirst into their performances. At times Brad played his guitar thrust toward the ceiling. On songs like “I Could Go,” the band produces a raucous energy which quickly subsides for tender moments of vocals and xylophone before exploding again into choruses of hooks and noise. The miles and weeks on the road have had an obvious impact on the cohesiveness of their live sound, their performance, and their connection with the audience.

I asked Brad what life on the road is like, and he told me that it is really life in a white, fifteen passenger van full of equipment. Brad joked (halfway seriously) that one day they will get tour support from a label and won’t have to drive themselves all day and all night. Of course, this would require that the band first sign to a label. “It’s been by choice that we haven’t signed a deal yet,” said Brad. “We haven’t been prepared. We’ve been looking for a label that is an inspiration to us. You can’t just sign to a label if you’re not inspired by them and how they fit with your music.” His caution is well-founded. Scores of bands, especially those with a good deal of buzz surrounding them, have had their sound swallowed by a label that over-produces their music, markets them wrong, or just doesn’t care enough about them. After prominent showcases as SXSW, a handful of other festivals, and months of touring, Brad thinks that they may have found a label they feel comfortable with. He hopes to be able to record an album this summer and get it out sometime in the fall. He excitedly told me about the dozens of songs that he has already written, some of which he has taken to the band, who he says always tinker with the sound make it even better.

Brad coughed and shifted the keyboard on his lap as we talked. “We drive all night sometimes, which is crazy.” He looked at me and laughed. “You know, I read this article recently that sitting is the primary cause of obesity.” I started to tell him that they get enough exercise on stage, and then I remembered all the time spent in the van. “Exactly,” he said. “Sometimes we’re in the van for like fifteen hours!” Road diets probably don’t help the cause. Pete, the drummer, wandered into the room for a beer and was happy to talk about road life and food. Brad and Pete were well-aware of Pittsburgh’s customary recommendation which greets every band to visit our city: get a sandwich at Primanti’s. They have done this (although I choose not share their verdict on it). Other useful information I gleaned: tacos at Torchys in Austin are phenomenal; Cracker Barrel is really good for breakfast, “but never for dinner. No.”

Night after night of shows in dark clubs and sleeping through the day might cause blur the cities together, but Brad said this really hasn’t happened for him. “You form sentimental attachments to certain places and people you meet, even though we don’t spend too much time in any given city.” He went on, “I usually have amazing times. You go on adventures after shows. You meet fun and eccentric people.” I ask for one of these memories, and he tells me about a night in St. Louis when they went sledding after a show at 2am. They met some people, drove out to a water basin, re-lit an abandoned bonfire, and sledded down a hill until they crashed into hay bales before hitting the water. These are the kinds of adventures Brad loves. Of course, he said, “Sometimes I just want to go to bed. Sometimes I need it.”

“What time do you guys get up on a normal day,” I ask. “2pm?” Pete laughed. “No, more like 5pm. But I don’t go to sleep until around 7am. I’m almost completely nocturnal.”

For a band that began as a one-man project, Oberhofer’s live show recasts Brad’s intimate songs into something different for the stage. I asked Brad about this relationship between his recorded music and the live sound. “They become two separate beasts entirely,” he said. He told me that a significant part of writing music is how he connects with it emotionally. When you add three more people to the mix, he said, there are more emotions and ideas to connect to that song, and it’s only natural that it will change it.

Emotional connection seems to dominate Brad’s approach to music. His own desire to connect emotionally to his music is equaled by his desire that listeners connect to it as well. There is a recognition that the live setting sometimes requires a different sound than the more intimate ways in which a listener experiences recorded music. On a night where they shared the stage with Neon Indian, I asked about his cover of “I Should Have Taken Acid with You.” “A good cover song is whatever is emotional for you. Any song that I cover, I try to simplify it to the point where I can emotionally connect to it, and then I start tweaking and adjusting it,” he explained.

Brad said that he is aware of how easily one’s sound changes as bands listen to one another, tour, and work with other musicians. He wants to maintain the uniqueness of his sound, and get that allow listeners to form their own emotions and sentimental attachments to his personal sound. Hopefully the next five months are as productive for the band as the last five have been and we start seeing some new music from them soon.

-Daniel Hammer

Monday, May 23, 2011

Opus One Productions Interview

About a year ago we did an interview with Brian Drusky, owner of the promtion company Drusky Entertainment. Today we bring you an interview with Amy Wagner, the Marketing Director for Opus One Productions. Amy was kind enough to answer our questions ranging from how she got into the business to how bands utlize scavenger hunts for their marketing.

You are the Marketing Director for Opus One Productions. How did you get into the business? Is this an industry you had always worked in?

Live music has always been a part of my life, but going to concerts took over as a main priority as soon as I was old enough to go to shows unsupervised. At first I would mostly just help my friends in local bands sell tickets for their shows. I started with Opus as an intern while I was in high school and my parents were generally supportive of the idea, especially since being involved saved me a lot of the money I’d be spending on tickets.

What are your main job functions with the company?

In the most basic sense, when we confirm a show it is my job to make sure that people know about it and decide to come. I figure out who the target audience is and get a plan together. I also manage our street team and assist with production. You can usually find me at the box office if I am working a show.

How long have you been with Opus One? Is this a full time venture for you?

I work out of our office on weekdays, and I work shows a few times a week. I started working full time once I graduated college.

How many people work for Opus One currently? Full time? Part time?

There are five full time employees, four part time employees.

How has the opening of the balcony seating at Mr Smalls done? Have you received good sales and feedback? I recently sat up there for the first time for the Mogwai show and have to say it was a definite pleasure.

I agree with you that it definitely enhances your experience, considering the view and just the fact that you have a seat above a standing room only floor. I like to watch shows from there when I’m not working.

You currently have a partnership with Promo West Productions (Stage AE). How does this work? Do you book the shows? Or?

We co-present certain shows with them at Stage AE. It’s a new venture, being as the venue just opened late last year, and I’m really excited for what we have coming up this summer and I’m happy we are a part of it. I’m about to attend our first outdoor event there on Friday.

How has the ‘Club at Stage AE’ done? I went to a couple of these smaller shows and found them enjoyable. Will they continue?

It’s a very versatile venue, and it was a smooth operation when they closed the partition after Bassnectar to create the Club for the after party. To date that’s the only Club event Opus has had there, but I found it to be a great end to the evening and I hope we continue to have the opportunity to utilize that space when the occasion calls for it.

You work with several different venues exclusively (Club Café, Brillobox, Mr Smalls). Do these venues come to you? And are you contracted with them?

It’s a partnership in which we exclusively book the concerts for each venue. It’s great because across the three venues we can cater to a lot of different genres and reach a different kind of audience.

What are the challenges of booking shows in the Pittsburgh area and bringing in a crowd?

Like with any promoter, it’s just doing the right kind of work to be able to put on a successful show and making sure that we are paying attention to the acts that would do well in the Pittsburgh market.

What are the benefits of booking in the area?

Pittsburgh is a great city that seems to always be in a state of flux--in the best way possible. It’s never boring, and there are plenty of chances to take risks and try something new.

How are local acts booked with Opus One? What advice would you give to a local band trying to book a show here in pgh?

We either set up local showcases with several local bands or have a few open for national bands coming through looking for local support. The best advice I can give is to send us an email with something to listen to, and in the event that you are booked, show up on time and be a pleasure to work with. Simple things like that go a long way.

How is the competition these days with booking acts with other competitors in Pgh?

We really don't think about that...

With regards to local acts opening for national artists, what do you normally ask of them?

For national shows, we tend to book the local bands that we have worked well with during Local Showcases. That way we are confident that they can handle the responsibility of selling tickets and coming into it with a professional attitude.

Fun Questions:

Strangest request on a rider?

If you know anything about Gogol Bordello, then it wouldn’t surprise you that their rider in its entirety is a delightful read. It’s like a novella.

What was the most difficult band to deal with and what happened?

Nothing scandalous comes to mind. Difficult days rarely stem from an actual band member being hard to work with.

Has there been a band or mgt group you won’t deal with again?

No, there isn’t some sort of blacklist in existence.

Any funny, amusing stories from your marketing of bands?

I wish every artist would want to conduct scavenger hunts as part of their official tour marketing. I’ve had the pleasure of assisting with a few in the past and it’s a very fun way to involve fans directly.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Show Preview - Cold Cave - 5/22/11 - Brillobox - Concert Preview

Cold Cave will be performing at the Brillobox on Sunday, 5/22. Cold Cave is a 3 piece from the Philadelphia area with experienced members from some well known bands (i.e. Xiu Xiu). They play a throwback to 80's darkwave synth pop with a bit of a modern twist thrown in. They have been receiving positive reviews on their recent release entitled Cherish The Light Years on Matador Records.

Lead Wesley Eisold has headed up his share of bands including Give Up the Ghost and Some Girls. Both were ventures into the hardcore and punk scenes, much different than his current endeavor. The early recordings for Cold Cave were done solo comprising a dark atmosphere sound with pop tones. This resulted in the the nine track debut album Love Comes Close which produced many hook laden songs with mellow tempos. With Cherish the Light Years, the band and lyrics are much deeper than it's predecessor. Eisold appears to be transformed with a new focus and different demeanor.

From their press:

Cremations is only two years old but it’s so drastically different,” Eisold says. “Cherish The Light Years is what I then envisioned happening in the future, but I was just starting to make my own songs, and it escalated to this. Through experimentation I stumbled on more song-oriented music.” Eisold’s lyrics, largely inspired by nighttime walks after moving to New York City, are an extension of his work running the Heartworm publishing imprint. “That is a really important part of Cold Cave too.

Lyrically, I want to convey what a lot of my favourite writers give me to other people. I want there to be this air of romance that has a seedy underbelly, like Jean Genet.” Not unlike Genet, Lou Reed, Baudelaire or Arthur Russell, Eisold uses the temptations of the City to examine the duality of human nature: “It’s impossible not to notice, or be intrigued by, or partake in these things. I think the whole record is a reflection of that, but also questioning your reaction to it, asking how much will you partake? Contradiction has always been a big part of every band I’ve been in, but I think this group of songs highlights that better than ever before.” 

Cold Cave will be appearing with Passengers and Boy Scouts of America. Doors at 9p while the show begins at 9:30p. Tickets can found here.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Preview - Laura and Will (band) - KDKA TV - 5/20/11 - Pittsburgh

NYC pop duo Laura and Will (the band) will be appearing on KDKA's "Pittsburgh Today Live" this Friday, 5/20. Laura is a recent graduate from Carnegie Mellon University who relocated to NYC. Her and band mate Will have been performing music together since High School. Since moving last year to NYC, both have become more focused in their musical endeavors, releasing 2 videos and on the cusp of their first album. Laura was kind enough to answer some questions about their upcoming KDKA performance, their history and  what she misses about Pittsburgh.

You can find more information about the band here:

Is this a full time endeavor? Do you all have day jobs? or?

Our band comes first - we both freelance (I'm a TV news reporter and producer, Will babysits and writes for a health website) but if we book a show we make time to play it. That being said, it's pretty difficult to survive as a musician in any city, but particularly NYC, so we don't see giving up our day jobs any time soon.

You graduated from CMU and moved to NYC. Did you grow up in Pgh? or? Did you move to try and make it as an artist?

I didn't move to NYC to become an artist per say. It was more because everything I love and everyone I love is in this city; they all happen to be artists, as well (and not just musical but visual and theatrical friends). I always knew I'd end up here; I didn't realize it would be so soon after graduation, but I'm glad it was.

How did you and Will meet? What is the back story?

Will and I played opposite each other as romantic leads in our high school's production of "Anything Goes!" Learning Cole Porter music and choreographed dance routines was a bonding experience, but our friendship and songwriting-ship really took off during college. We'd return to our hometown of Darien, Connecticut, in the summer and write songs in Will's living room. It was really low key; we never had a show we were aiming for. I think that's the best way to create music, but it also means you procrastinate a lot, and it takes forever to write a song. We wrote "Summer's A Ghost" that first summer, over a couple sessions. In this past year, once we started booking shows in New York, we wrote faster in order to play those songs at the next concert. Even though we try and be more prolific and churn out new material, we still have this foundation of writing in a go-at-your-own-pace style.

What is your goal with the band? What would you like to accomplish?

I think this is a question Will and I would answer very differently. I've worked in the music industry as an intern for EMI, Sony/BMG, and most recently as a college rep for Warner Music Group. I have a good understanding of the nuts and bolts of the industry and what is wonderful about being signed to a label and what is not so wonderful. I love to perform and I love to sing. One of my friend's just told me our song "Pick up my Heart" is on her playlist as she gets ready for work; if I could accomplish anything, it's to have Pick up my Heart help more people get ready for their day. That makes me happy.

You are a duo...but when you perform live are there extra members to flush out the sound? Have you ever thought to bring in other members full time to help with your music?

Will and I perform just us two. We have considered bringing in a drummer to play live shows but at the moment, we have only recorded with a drummer and a bassist, never performed live with those musicians. I play piano (and tambourine) and Will plays guitar and we both sing so the sound is stripped down but still full. However, I wouldn't be opposed to playing with more instruments.

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

We split the duties most usually but some days I'll come to Will with a fully formed song, other times he'll write the entire song. Summer's A Ghost was a mutual collaboration, Pick Up My Heart was Will's creation.

Were you a music major at CMU?

Nope; history! But I took a music course at least every semester, and participated in Scotch 'n Soda theater and a choral group.

Did Will go to CMU as well? Did he major in music?

Will attended Fordham University at Lincoln Center in NYC...he was an acting major, not music, but a little more leaning towards the 'creative' than my major I suppose! He is a part of another band, Space Command, as well as Laura & Will.

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

It's as though Norah Jones, Simon and Garfunkel, and Dashboard Confessional formed a band that was only 2 people.

Do you plan on releasing a record? How close are you?

Yes! Very close; we have 10 songs completed.

You are performing at KDKA on the 20th. How did this come about? Are there any future performance in the Pgh area planned?

The producer of Pittsburgh Today Live on KDKA TV, Jill Neely, is a wonderful friend and mentor to me. I interned at KDKA my last year of college in order to learn the ropes of broadcast news. While working on PTL one day, Marvin Hamlisch came on for an interview, and I told Jill how I'd performed in A Chorus Line in high school (he was the composer for that show) -- she invited me to sing with him during a commercial break, and they aired the recorded performance the next day. Now that I've been writing my own music I've always kept her in the loop and she invited Will and I on to perform.

Anything you miss about Pgh?

Holy cow, yes. Pamela's. People in New York say they live in the city with the best breakfast food, I just know they haven't been to Pittsburgh. I miss Avalon the thrift store in Squirrel Hill. I miss Walnut Street in Shadyside. I miss the wonderful friendly people of Pittsburgh.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Show Preview - Oberhofer - 5/16/11 - Brillobox - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Oberhofer will be appearing at the Brillobox next Monday, 5/16 with Neon Indian. Oberhofer last appeared this past January with Cloud Nothings at the Brillo. We have to say he puts on a hell of a good show. Contributor Daniel Hammer was even more impressed, catching his act at SXSW this year, stating it was the best set he saw in Austin. From his review:

The best act I saw, hands down, but somewhat surprisingly, was Oberhofer on Thursday night at the Bat Bar. I interviewed Brad Oberhofer a few months back and saw him play at Brillobox. It was the first time he had gone on an extended tour and really worked out material with his live band. The guys have really tightened up their live show—changing a number of the song’s live structures to be louder and more punk influenced, while still showcasing the quirks of sound and acrobatics of Brad’s vocals that make Oberhofer distinctive. Really stunning show. Two friends with me who had never heard of him (and weren’t already fans like I was) agreed that he was the best thing we saw.

o0O0o0O0o by Oberhofer

Oberhofer was kind enough to give us an interview this past January which you can find here. An excerpt:

OK, a little more abstractly—what is your music to you? Is it a personal endeavor, are you trying to accomplish something with music? Do you think about it in terms of reception and your audience—what does it mean to you?

It's just really personal, honestly. It just sort of happens that people can connect with it right now. I think that the problem with so many bands, and the reason so many bands sound really generic, is because there's a lot of contrivance in their music and they're trying to achieve something with their music. I think if people were just genuinely themselves in the music they write, and really did what their heart was telling them, instead of trying to rationalize their music in any sort of way, then there would be a greater variety of genres and styles. Tons of different bands and a cooler community, with less of a competitive nature between bands.

Don'tneedya by Oberhofer

I definitely get that personal vibe from your music, and I understand that all of your songs thus far (except the Neon Indian cover) have been performed and recorded by you alone. Now that you are playing live with a band, do you intend to keep your writing and recording as a personal process, or do you think you might change this to write and record together with the band?

I've recently taken some songs to the band, and I've really liked what's happened. There is something personal that can happen in a group of four as well—four people that are connecting to make a piece of music that's meaningful to them as a group of people. If we find that working together forms songs that are a nice cohesive whole, then we will incorporate things like that on future recordings. Or it may be that I bring songs that are already written to the table, and they write parts. No matter what, the people in the band are incredibly important to me, because they write amazing parts and the live show would be nothing without them.

Smylez by Oberhofer

The show begins at 9:30p with doors opening at 8:30p.

Show Preview - Maria Taylor - Mr Smalls - 5/17/11 - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Maria Taylor be performing at Mr Smalls this Tuesday opening for Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. Taylor has three lp's to her name, the most recent being 2009's LadyLuck. She is also have of the duo Azure Ray who released a new lp this past September on Saddle Creek Records.

From the bio: 
Maria Taylor started her musical career at the age of fifteen in the band Little Red Rocket which released two CDs on Geffen—Who Did You Pay (1997) and It's in the Sound (2000). The group disbanded during the merging of Geffen with Universal Music Group. Afterwards, Taylor moved to Athens, Georgia along with her musical collaborator, Orenda Fink. There, they formed the band Azure Ray. The pair signed to WARM and released their self titled debut as well as their second album, Burn and Shiver. The duo then relocated to Omaha, NE and released two additional records on Saddle Creek, the November EP and their final album, Hold on Love. Following that album, Taylor and Fink moved on to produce their own solo records.

Her song "Time Lapse Lifeline" was featured in the "The Beaver In The Otter" episode of "Bones". Her music has also been featured frequently on the popular TV series, Grey's Anatomy—"Song Beneath The Song" from her first solo album 11:11 was on the Grey's Anatomy Season 1 Soundtrack. Maria Taylor's also had a song featured on the hit ABC Family series Greek. "No Stars" from Taylor's album Lynn Teeter Flower was also featured on the prom episode of the CW's One Tree Hill; she also has had a song featured on the series Scrubs.

Show begins at 8p at Mr Smalls.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spotlight On Local Artist - Bare Branches - May 2011

Bare Branches is our local artist spotlight for the month of May. They are a six piece band based out of Butler, PA. They just released their new record entitled Haunts. Producer Christin Nelson, by way of Las Vegas, caught a set by the band in the Summer of 2010 and volunteered to come to the Pittsburgh area to produce the new album. For 2 weeks the band worked with Christin to create the lp in an old 19th century church.

Lead man Christopher Wagner was kind enough to answer our questions about the band and new album. Please find Haunts streaming throughout the interview. Find more information about them at:

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

Friends and their friends. I hope that's not too confusing, but it's how this all came to be. We're a figurative family that spans a decade from the oldest members to the youngest. We love each other and what we're doing.

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

 Moody and atmospheric. We write and play songs with the intention of making a connection. We want people to know and sing the words.

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

Yes sir, on both accounts.
 Do you all create music full time or is this more of a part time venture?

 It's part time earnings, full time hours.

Do you have day jobs?

Yes and no. Two of our members are finishing college at the moment.

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

I write the lyrics after a bout of inspiration or singing in the shower. I bring material to practice and our guitarist Jon either already has a lick or asks for a mood or tempo. Within thirty minutes, the band is playing the skeleton of a new song. This is when it goes well. We've written and spent countless hours on dozens of songs that have never turned out. Building songs that you care about takes so much time, but the best material happens pretty spontaneously.

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

We're actually in the process of working out new goals. We've met the first set and putting out this record has lifted a great weight from our shoulders. It's been the icing on the cake.

Are you trying to get signed to a label?

If we could see the benefits in doing so. If we could find a label that works for the artist and was interested in our DIY approach, then sure.

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

Well, I guess that depends on what "making it" means. If you want to be respected and craft music that you're proud of, then don't be satisfied. Always look ahead. This can only happen through practice, patience and perseverance. Be humble because you're nothing and if you "make it" you'll still be nothing. Celebrity is illusion.

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

We've been regional, though we have played national festivals the past few years. We are doing a small mid west tour in late June/early July.

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

 No, though living an hour outside of Pittsburgh we have found it difficult to connect with the various networks in the city proper. But we've had some great shows and we want to reach out to some of the other great bands in the area.

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

The only real obstacles we've faced have been self imposed. It sucks to shoot yourself in the foot and sometimes we do that. We need to be more proactive in grabbing city shows when they are offered. Our lack of communication has cost us more than one good show this year. So yeah, I guess that's a goal we have to answer the question above.

What are the positive benefits of being in the area?

Well, this is the year we hope to find all that out. But, from the dozen shows we've played under our old moniker, it seems that the Pittsburgh music scene is healthy, which is an encouragement.

Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?
Hard to say, every venue has treated us really well, honestly. We enjoy the vibe of Club Cafe and the Smiling Moose. Brillobox is the music space that should be in every Wes Anderson movie.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Show Preview - Margot and the Nuclear So & So's - 5/14/11 - Mr Smalls - Pittsburgh - Concert Review

Margot and the Nuclear So & So's will be appearing next Saturday, 5/14 at Mr. Smalls. They will be opening for The Twilight Singers featuring Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli. As you migh know PMR are big fans of Margot and the Nuclear. We have featured them several times including here and here.

Margot recently release their third lp this past year entitled Buzzard. It is quite a departure from their two previous Margot album. The indie-pop orchestra sound was replaced by a more guitar driven, stripped down feel. Many of the songs are more uptempo, showing a departure from the more downtrotted music they once performed. From their press:

And there is, of course, an intriguing path that led Margot towards this evolution in sound, which contrasts the lively optimism of 2008’s Animal! (and/or Not Animal, simultaneously released after contention with former label Epic). Buzzard was recorded over one freezing month last winter in an abandoned movie theater in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood. Once settled, he began writing a collection of songs loosely inspired by the 8mm ‘nudie cutie’ films unearthed in the theater’s basement, and the youthful reaction of mixed emotions that the films evoked.

New York City Hotel Blues by Margot and the Nuclear So & So's

We conducted an interview with frontman Richard Edwards leading up to Margot's soldout show last March. Here are some snippets:

The first time you were in Pittsburgh was at Club Café where there were 10 people in attendance and 8 onstage. The last time you were here there was a packed house. Has this pattern occurred in most cities you play?

Fortunately, attendance has risen in most cities, and seems to be continuing to rise. We had a couple lean years there.

From what I read you bring the material for new songs and then the rest of the band adds to it at this point. Is this relatively accurate and has anything changed for Margot #3?

Yeah, I bring in the songs, then we all work on them together. People play their instruments to the song, and the best ideas are the ones that get kept. At least as far as we interpret, "best idea". It still works pretty much the same as it always has, except I'm playing a bit more "lead guitar" on album three, since Andy is no longer responsible for that.

You are originally from Indianapolis. I read that some members still reside there and others are in Chicago? Is this still true and how does this workout when creating new material?

Most of us live in Chicago now. It can be tough to get together, but a lot of Margot work has always been solitary until we go into the studio, so I imagine it would be more difficult if we were a band that wrote together in a big room or something. But most band business happens in Chicago, so people get here and we get our shit done.

The show is at Mr Smalls and is scheduled to begin at 8p.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Show Preview - Vandaveer - 5/7/11 - Brillobox - Pittsburgh - Concert Review

Vandaveer will be appearing at the Brillobox this Saturday, 5/7. The band is touring behind their third album entitled Dig Down Deep which was released this past April. Mark Charles Heidinger is the musician behind the band who currently resides in the Washington, DC area. From his bio:
Vandaveer offers up melodic Americana with a revolving cast of characters, most prominent among them Rose Guerin, singing the loveliest harmonies heard this side of Eden. Heidinger and Guerin met during the heyday of DC’s folk collective known as The Federal Reserve. Informal collaborations in that environment soon galvanized, with Guerin’s voice becoming a reliable fixture in Vandaveer, both on record and on stage.

From his press:
Vandaveer’s third full length, Dig Down Deep, offers a collage of churning rhythms, steady guitar and ringing piano beneath tales of war and impermanence, loss and love. The music serves as both mirror and platform for Vandaveer’s stories—booming bass drum during moments of turmoil and conquest, throaty cello in moments of peace and predation, trembling keys in moments of uncertainty and hope. Out of the mosaic rise two voices in perfect harmony narrating and navigating the lives of Vandaveer’s characters with confidence and grace.

Show begins at the 10p with Paul Luc and Ferraby Lion opening.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Show Review - Mogwai - 4/27/11 - Mr Smalls - Pittsburgh - Live Review - Concert Review

While the Pens were taking their lumps in game 7, Mogwai played to a pack crowd last Wednesday night at Mr Smalls. I thought that their might be a sparser crowd with several events taking place (including competing concerts), but the show was close, if not sold out. I took in the performance from the balcony for the first time since they opened it. If you get the chance, definitely take advantage of it. Yes, you pay an additional $30, but it gets you a primo seat plus matches your $30 with both food and drink. An added bonus is you don’t have to deal with looking over someone’s head or bumping into others every 2 seconds.

The one disappointment concerning the show was the scheduled opener, Errors, did not play. No one knew this until Mogwai came out for their set some 2 hours after the doors opened. They apologized on Errors behalf stating they had Visa issues with getting into the North America. I just wish I had known this beforehand as I rather had watched the period of the game.

Mogwai is known as one of the loudest live acts around, and they certainly didn’t disappoint this evening. They quickly jumped onstage with a brief wave and began right into their hour and fifteen minute set. Guitars swelled and dived with precision as the band carried the crowd from one song to another. Many of the songs were off their new album Hardcore Will Never Die…But You Will. Most of the set was the normal instrumentals, but a few had the distorted vocals seeping through. I have seen Mogwai a couple of times before but all without vocals. It was a nice addition.

The crowd was swaying for the entire time and surprisingly, respectively quiet for Pittsburgh. Mogwai isn’t a band that brings theatrics to the stage or much crowd interaction. But what they do is hold the attention of the viewers with their mix of slow buildups and massive crescendos. It is a transfixing experience that you should see. Their intensity was maintained throughout the set creating an environment that kept the masses enjoyment.

After about an hour, the band rested before coming back for a 15 minute encore. The encore was even noisier then their main set, which is surprising concerning all the energy spent on it. The last song was rounded out with a 4+ minute ‘jam’ session that kept everyone in the crowd from the doors. A very good evening, plus missing what would have been a disappointing game 7.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Show Preview - Dead Rider - 5/8/11 - Howler's - PIttsburgh - Concert Preview

Dead Rider will be appearing at Howler's next Sunday, 5/8. The band hails from Chicago and are touring behind their new album The Raw Dents. They are an avant-garde rock band founded and fronted by U.S. Maple mastermind, guitarist/singer Todd Albert Rittmann. The band powered onto the scene in 2009 with their debut Mother of Curses. After two years on the road and recording the band released their new album on Tizona Records.

Mothers Meat by Dead Rider

From their press:

Chicago sonic juggernaut Dead Rider have spent the last year touring, recording, and staring into the abyss of discordance, and are now prepared to present the world with The Raw Dents, the follow up to their darkly psychedelic debut album, Mother of Curses. Featuring a transformed lineup, The Raw Dents continues the band’s trajectory of balancing fresh syncopated rhythmic ideas with bold, and sometimes abrasive sonic textures, but the sound has evolved into a total juxtapositions between harmony and noise, chaos and groove, bombast and space, beauty and disaster. Though the emphasis is on songwriting here, the players are free to subvert. The hooks are designed more like events than simple repeating motifs, harmony and dissonance are embraced with equal measure.

The show begins at 9p in Bloomfield.