Thursday, October 31, 2013

Far-out Fangtooth - 11.3.13 - Brillobox - Show Preview - Concert Preview

What is in the water in Philadelphia? Not a week goes by that some blissed-out rocker doesn't trundle their way down the Turnpike to spread the gospel of altered states. (Don't they already know we're home to Wiz Khalifa?) Psychedelic troubadour Kurt Vile was first, in September, then Man Man got all freaky at Mr. Smalls last week. Now it's Far-Out Fangtooth's turn to unleash cosmic grooves deep into our unsuspecting cerebrums; they play Brillobox Sunday night.

Pittsburgh is stop #3 on Fangtooth's 7-day, 7-city tour of the Northeast. They'll be in town just one night after the release party for their sophomore LP, “Borrowed Time.” Spin calls their music “horror-fuzz,” while XPN calls it “goth-punk.” Labels are always tricky, and usually inaccurate, but Far-Out Fangtooth serve up their psychedelic garage rock with more far more grime than, say, the peace-and-brotherly-love of Man Man's “Hold on to Your Heart.” Fans of The Stooges shouldn't be disappointed.

Tickets cost $8. Also performing are Night Beats, a psychedelic rock band out of Seattle, and Hidden Twin, featuring Phil Boyd, formerly of Modey Lemon.

-- B. Conway

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Show Review - Wild Belle - 10.23.13 - Rex Theater - Concert Review

     Little sister is all grown up.
     Elliot and Natalie Bergman, better known as Wild Belle, played in front of an obliging crowd of over 100 at the Rex Theater Wednesday night. Natalie stepped onto the stage serendipitously adorned in black and yellow for the home crowd, her flaxen hair and golden bangles popping out against a sleek black dress and wide-brimmed hat. She stood front and center at the mic, her brother to the side, his tall frame half-hidden behind a wooden keyboard stand, next to his king-sized baritone sax.
     With apologies to Elliot, the veteran performer of the two, the crowd came to hear – and see – Natalie. She looked like a young Stevie Nicks up there, earning a long-stemmed rose from one adoring female fan late in the set. Her sultry voice is even more irresistible live than on their debut album, Isles, from which the band played nearly every song during their brief, yet fulfilling, 45 minute performance.
      The band didn't stray from their studio output, not even for a jam or two. Honey-soaked and soulful, Natalie's voice glided over Elliot's boss sax, groovy afro-beats and plucky thumb piano. (There was a shocking lack of ganja in the air for a band that cites Bob Marley as an influence.) Electric guitar added some welcome unrestraint to songs like “Another Girl” and “Happy Home.” If there's a criticism of Wild Belle it's that they're still searching for the “wild” part of their name; here's hoping for some more of that gritty guitar on the next album, as it fit in nicely with their already well-developed aesthetic.
      On the group's last visit, in May, they played the more meager Thunderbird, in Lawrenceville. If they maintain this upward trajectory, who knows where they might end up on their next trip through town. Everyone in the crowd smiled and swayed with the beat, and went home happy. Isn't that what music's all about?
      Saint Rich opened for Wild Belle. Steve Marion, nee Delicate Steve, singer Christian Peslak and crew look preternaturally young on stage, like a teenage Strokes. (Seriously, their bass player would get carded at Hot Topic.) Maybe the glut of hipster beards just makes the fresh-faced appear exceedingly youthful, but there was nothing adolescent about the band's sound. Check out their single, “Officer,” if you haven't already. Fans of the grown-up Strokes won't be disappointed.

-- B. Conway

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ticket Giveaway – Wild Belle – 10.23.13 – Rex Theater – Show Preview – Concert Preview

Wild Belle rolls into Pittsburgh Wednesday, the final stop on their national tour before they close it out with a hometown gig at the Metro in Chicago. We previewed the show a few weeks back in our “5 upcoming shows” post, and now we are pleased to announce a giveaway for it. Simply email us at, with “Wild Belle” in the subject line, to be entered for a chance to win a pair of tickets to see the band Wednesday at the Rex.

Wild Belle is the brother and sister duo of Elliot and Natalie Bergman. They credit their parents for exposing them to a diverse range of musicians growing up, and their distinct, calypso-tinged pop owes as much to Bob Marley as Fela Kuti. Natalie does most of the singing – Entertainment Weekly described her as having “sultry soul vocals with deep pass-the-dutchie raspiness” - while Elliot handles the rhythm.

They are touring in support of their premiere album, Isles. The Chicago Tribune called it “a first-rate pop album that doesn’t sound quite like anything else on pop radio.” The single, “Keep You,” danceable and dub-tastic, will stick in your ear for days:

The band is already earning something of a reputation for putting on exceptional live shows; their performance at SXSW having earned particular acclaim. And Elliot plays a mean baritone sax, so there's that.

Tickets to the show, at the Rex Theater, cost $12 - $15 at the door - and are available through Showclix.  Saint Rich opens.  The concert starts at 8. 

- B. Conway

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Interview – Dennis Lyxzén of INVSN – 10/22/13 – Mr. Smalls

We were fortunate enough to interview Mr. Lyxzén before his band, INVSN, plays Mr. Smalls Tuesday with Minus the Bear. You can read our entire preview, and learn how to register for a giveaway that includes a pair of tickets to the show, here.

INVSN began recording this new album not long after you wrapped up a reunion tour with Refused, and around the time AC4 put out a new album as well. Do you find it difficult to shift between each of your bands? Or are you able to transition rather quickly?
It is a rather easy transition. Sometimes ideas and influences trickle over a bit, which is not that strange. Even though the projects are different, I am still the same person. And yes, last year was intense - every day when I was not playing with Refused we were writing songs and practicing with INVSN. I managed to record two records and play over 100 shows in one year.

INVSN has been around, in one form or another, since the late 1990s. How has the sound evolved since the early days? Most of your new songs are longer than four minutes – that is a lifetime in punk terms!

I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say that INVSN has something to do with my past solo projects with the Lost Patrol. However, I did two records with The Lost Patrol that evolved into The Lost Patrol Band. And the core of that band is still playing with me in INVSN. Most songs are longer than 4 minutes, but INVSN never really claimed to be a punk band - even though that is our background and the soil we plant our feet on, we are pretty far from it. On the last record we did before our English debut, we had some songs that were over 7 minutes! I really think that you just evolve, as an artist and as a human being. I've covered the entire spectrum from lame dude with an acoustic guitar to superfast hardcore. It’s just life.

What would you say to fans who come out expecting to hear The Shape of Punk to Come? Do you find fans of, say, The (International) Noise Conspiracy are also fans of INVSN?

If they expect to hear another version of that record they will be sorely disappointed. It has been a lifetime since that record was recorded and time moves and people that are interested in art and creativity and in challenging themselves move. Since The Shape record, I've released something like 15 records and they've all been different. I meet people that have followed me along this ride and it makes me happy to see that people are interested in what I do as an artist and as a human and not just into one particular project. That being said, if your favorite album is Shape and you've heard nothing since, INVSN it might be a bit confusing!

Recently, you told Rolling Stone, that while music can change an individual's worldview, “nowadays I'm not so confident that music will change the world.” Has the spectacle of politics and media today left you feeling disillusioned, or is that the statement of a man whose idealism has matured and evolved?

Well, in all honesty, it could never change the world. If music once had that power, we failed to use it. I think that music is a powerful expression. It can articulate dreams of rebellion and revolution like few other art forms. Music can change your world and set you off into a totally different orbit. It has an inherent power that very few art forms have in the way that it is so direct and has the power to connect people. However, this world is such a fragmented place and music is so divided into cultures and sub-cultures that it is almost impossible to find some sort of coherent structure that can bind people together into a mass-movement. I still believe in Revolution and I still believe that a different world is needed and possible, but music will not be the catalyst to start that. If it does happen/when it does happen, we are more then ready and willing to support it with the proper soundtrack.

There are plenty of Swedish groups that tour America; Pittsburgh alone has been visited by Ghost, In Flames, and Katatonia in the past six months. Is there a rock or punk band from Sweden that you've been listening to that you think might be the next to break out?
That’s fantastic! I like Ghost! Great band. Some Swedish bands to keep your eyes open for might be The Holograms, Terrible Feelings, Fukushima and The T-55's.

Lastly, how did being voted “Sweden's Sexiest Man,” in 2004, affect your reputation in the hardcore scene?
My reputation within the abstractions of the scene was already shot to hell at that point, so I think that it had very little effect, ha.

- B. Conway

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ticket Giveaway - INVSN - 10.22.13 - Mr Smalls - Show Preview - Concert Preview

You may not be aware of it, but at some point you have encountered music created by Dennis Lyxzén. Maybe you heard his influential punk band Refused, or his other band, The (International) Noise Conspiracy. Perhaps you've listened to the new album by AC4, which Dennis fronts also. (Did I mention it was issued on Ny Våg, Dennis's record label?)

Well, Dennis has a new band, which is really an old band, INVSN. Invasionen, as it was previously known, put out a few albums in the country's native Sweden. Now the group - whose members include (I)NC. alumnus Sara Almgren, and Anders Stenberg, who played with Swedish pop star Lykke Li - has undergone a reboot of sorts: English lyrics, new name, new sound, and new album. The result is a well-crafted mix of industrial post-punk and 80s new wave, reminiscent of The Cure and Joy Division.

INVSN will be in Pittsburgh Tuesday, October 22, at Mr. Smalls. They will be sharing a bill with Minus the Bear. We are pleased to announce a giveaway for the show. Included are a pair of tickets to the concert, a copy of the band's new album on vinyl, and an INVSN t-shirt. Simply email us at with “INVSN” in the subject line.

Tickets for the show are $20, and doors open at 8. Get there early: there's another band opening for this top-notch double bill: Slow Bird, an indie rock band out of Seattle.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ticket Giveaway – The Belle Game - 10.15.13 – The Smiling Moose - Show Preview - Concert Preview

Indie rockers The Belle Game kick off the American leg of their tour at the Smiling Moose Tuesday.  The five-piece band hails from Vancouver, British Columbia, where they were founded four years ago.  They have released a pair of EPs since then, and earlier this year put out their first full-length album, the well-acclaimed Ritual Tradition Habit.

Most of the band's press refer to their sound as “dark pop.” This speaks more to the syrupy-sweet sounds of pop radio than anything sinister within The Belle Game, as Ritual Tradition Habit is about as dark as Neon Bible.  And while Arcade Fire comparisons are certainly premature at this point, the band has managed to craft an distinctive soundscape that is consistent throughout the album.  It usually takes a band at least an album or two to put together an original sound - if they manage to at all; maybe all bands should put out EPs before their first LP.

Andrea Lo's singing is the highlight of Ritual Tradition Habit.  Her sultry voice swoons with emotion above horns, strings and guitar, and she should sound incredible in a snug venue like the Moose.  It will also be interesting to hear how the band opens up on reverb-heavy tracks like “Keeps Me Up at Night” and “Wait Up for You.”

Some of the most compelling indie rock bands out there hail from Canada – Arcade Fire, Metric, Japandroids: The Belle Game might just have enough potential to join those ranks.

“Wait up for you”

What they're saying:

“The Belle Game´s debut album, Ritual Tradition Habit, begins with bashful guitars, a soft wave of cymbals, and a pair of ambiguous phrases. `Ritual´, a sweetly haunting soundscape, lasts only a few moments before fleshing out a procession of wild and witchy tunes, full of melancholy, mythology and symphonic power.” - Band's website

“Unlike many bands that are hyped and only go nowhere from there, the Belle Game has the chops and muscle in its music to make it something to revel in and be enamoured with...” - Popmatters

Show begins at 7pm with doors at 630.  Tickets for the all ages show cost $10 and are available here.  Or, if you prefer to try your luck, we are giving away a pair of tickets for the show.  Simply email your name to with “Belle Game” as the subject.

Opening for The Belle Game are fellow Vancouverites Bear Mountain.  The band started as a one-man electronic music project until morphing into its present form.

- B. Conway

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Local Spotlight - Tigers Eyes - October 2013 - Pittsburgh - Local Artist

Heavyweight Champ cover art

Our local spotlight for the month of October is Tigers Eyes. The local artist is a solo project who just released his debut EP entitled Heavyweight Champ which you can find streaming below. He was kind enough to answer our usual range of questions from how he produces his music, what obstacles he faces and what his goals are. 

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

The band is really just myself and Pro Tools. What you hear on recordings is written and recorded by me. Occasionally Ill bring in an outside musician if there is a part that's needing something spicy that I cant pull off or is not of my capabilities. My touring band is made up of friends Ive known for years though. People who've been with me since day one. Dudes I will know for the rest of my life.

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

A Canadian magazine called us 'Math-Pop/Twinkly Emo as the the theme music to cynical drug-fueled tales of hedonism and alcohol abuse'... so ive been running with that lately, because it sounds dope. But I never considered my music anything other than rock and roll or punk rock.

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

Yeah we are all from Pittsburgh as well as our families. Except my Drummer, Rick. He is from West Virginia where it is wild and wonderful and I can buy a bottle of booze in the gas station and Sip on it while I'm pumping my gas

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

Making music is definitely a full time lifestyle and mentality for all of us. I've been touring the US on and off the past 3 years and after this last tour and this new record, I've made the decision to make this a full time dedication over everything. Drugs, Booze, Bitches, etc. its all for the birds man. I can have all that when I get my recording contract. I'm all in with this and being in the studio 6 days a week comes before everything else.

Do you have day jobs?

Nah, no 9-5 for me. Ive got my little hustles here and there to help get by and maintain but other than that my focus is working on music, getting better and coming up with new art concepts and album concepts. I'm going to be dropping dope EPs every season over the next year

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

The creation process for the core of the song is super organic and actually really fast these days. I usually sit in my studio, fire up my amp then hit record in Pro Tools and start free styling guitar licks. I usually find something I dig pretty quick then ill figure out a real natural feeling tempo then track the guitar riff by riff, part by part, completely subconciious and free style. Nothing is pre determined or pre written when I go into the studio. Its all in the moment, that day, that time, that feeling, type of deal. Once the main guitar is tracked to the click Ill come up with a drum beat that I feel captures the energy of the song or something that really just works with the guitar part melodically, then Ill lay down the drums. Next Its the 2nd guitars part and again the same process as the first or 'core' guitar part. Ill just noodle around free styling licks over top of the main guitar until I find something that complements and works in unison and makes a killer harmony with the main guitar. For bass Ill usually just follow the melody of the main or first guitar i tracked or when my homies lay bass down they do what I do and just jam until something sounds like it fits. Vocals i always do last. I usually just listen to what I have recorded super loud while i pace around the studio smoking cigarettes & free styling vocal melodies and words out loud and then when I get a main lyrical concept Ill stick with that. Its really just trial and error with the vocals. I really like the freedom in this style of writing. I personally feel that my best work to date has come from this method and rather than stressing over trying to write songs that don't sound like anything I've written in the past and putting so much emphasis and focus on making sure each part differentiates from the last, the freestyle method lets me naturally accomplish these things without thinking about it. Its dope.

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

My goals are to be a full time touring band and to create a Brand that reflects our lifestyle. A world people can escape to from their reality they face in their lives. Oh, you cant tour 10 different cities in 12 days and snort xanax and drink cough syrup before you play a show to 60 strangers in a basement in Nashville? Well Tigers Eyes does, so we are here for your outlet. We are sexy and we are dark and we don't give a fuck. We do the things we want and like making friends with anyone who has a positive energy about them. A label would also be dope to have so they can be the machine behind us pumping a bunch of money into promotion to expose us to a larger audience scale. From my experiences and networkings I've learned that no label will touch you until you show you can draw an audience, sell units and show that you are willing to grind it out in a van and earn your following. 

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

My advice is you need to BECOME what you desire. You need to work hard at perfecting your craft so that you stand out amongst your peers. You have to BE what you wanna be and sacrifice for it. A lot of people don't understand that. There is a mentality which will lead you to the lifestyle and a routine which will set you on the path of that which you desire. You have to find that inside of you. First step is believing, becoming and working towards that goal. The rest falls into place. Also find your angle. Who are you? What does your band or your brand represent? What are you saying? Find that and run with it. Ask people! I love criticism. Thank god for people telling me when I'm fucking up.

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

Ive played self booked shows in a few cities in every US state except Hawaii and Alaska and Puerto Rico. 

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

I used to think so. Then all of a sudden everyone started liking my shit and started to show hella love. Maybe I just wasn't putting out anything that was of a quality that people around here could get into. Haha. Ive always found success on tour in new markets though. I prefer to stay out of state with a local show around here every now then, because theres so much more mystery and adventure in new places and cities where Ive got lots of friends, and that what the T$E Brand is about.

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

That's a tough one man, I don't really know. Like I said, I never had a real following in Pittsburgh except my friends.My friends always showed hella love and support. I released this 'Heavyweight Champ' EP recently and the bandcamp downloads went through the roof and my paypal donations were increasing every hour on release day and I'm still seeing donations daily. Next came the blogs and people in this scene Ive always admired and respected as well as a lot of strangers and new faces that started showing mad love and support too. I didn't do anything different besides how i went about recording the music. If anything I've doubled down on my grind and worked harder to better perform the music. I'm just going to keep doing things this way, believe in myself, and see where the wind takes me.

What are the positive benefits of being in the area?

Lots of benefits! Affordable living, lots of cultured neighborhoods, diverse ethnicities, great food joints and a music scene that keeps expanding. I love traveling to new places and I love coming home to Pittsburgh.
Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?

I always love playing 222 Ormsby. Its super DIY and showcases the punk rock spirit about doing things yourself. All the shows are floor shows on a dirty beer soaked floor and all my homies kick it over there. I Love that spot! We love to play anywhere though man. We'd play your basement or backyard if theres a PA!

You can find more information at these sites:

A Look Forward - 5 Upcoming Shows

“It is beautiful to give pizza new experiences”

In no particular order, here are five upcoming shows we are looking forward to:

Chance the Rapper. Saturday, Oct 26. Altar Bar.  $22 adv $25 door.
What we know: 20 year-old Chicago rapper released buzz worthiest of buzzworthy mixtapes in April, Acid Rap.  Followed up new found acclaim with an opening spot on Mac Miller's tour, which included  a stop at Stage AE July 12.  Now he's headlining his own tour. (The mixtape is still available for free at datpiff.)

What they're sayin': “An open-eared Chicago MC whose soulful sound and quick wit harkens back to the early days of Kanye West and Eminem.” - Pitchfork

Openers: DJ Rashad, Spinn

Sample lyrics...
Wore my feelings on my sleeveless
My weed seedless, my trees leafless
I miss my diagonal grilled cheeses
And back when Mike Jackson was still Jesus

...from the track: “Acid Rap”

Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Saturday, Oct 19. Altar Bar. $13 adv $15 door.

What we know: Branchild of Ruban Nielson, who comes from Portland by way of New Zealand.  Mid- 1960s-style, lo-fi psychedelica.  Opened for part of Grizzly Bear's 2012 tour.  Out on their own now, in support of highly-regarded sophomore release, II.

What the label says: “'II' signals the solidification of Unknown Mortal Orchestra's position as an infinitely intriguing, brave psychedelic band; unafraid to dig deeper and hit harder than the rest to lock into their intoxicating, opiate groove and bring rock'n'roll's exaggerated myths to life”

Openers: Wolf People, Jackson Scott

Sample lyrics...
words are floating through the windows
and in the house she blows them away
faded in the morning time
haters with their hearts asunder will ruin our parade

...from the track: “Faded in the Morning”

Wild Belle. Wednesday, Oct 23. Rex Theatre. $12

What we know: Indie sibling duo from Chicago compose chill, reggae-infused tunes with a splash of ska.  Sister Natalie provides most of the vocals, singing about heartbreak and two-timing men.  One album to date, Isles.  They spent the beginning of the year on tour with Toro y Moi.

What they're sayin': “Natalie Bergman and her brother Elliot are too inventive to get cast as style-rock band, experimenting with African thumb pianos, dub-reggae grooves, and sultry soul vocals with deep pass-the-dutchie raspiness.” - Entertainment Weekly

Openers: Saint Rich

Sample lyrics...
I lose sleep, I lose sleep
Too much I've seen
And I weep, yes, I weep
Cut your lips upon her body

...from the track: “Another Girl”

Johnny Marr. Tuesday, November 12.  Mr. Smalls.  $25

What we know: Co-wrote and played guitar for The Smiths.  'nuff said.

What they're sayin': “The Godlike Genius and guitar-slinger for hire finally goes it alone, rifling through pop history to reveal himself as a natural born frontman and a writer to rival his old mate Moz.” - NME

Openers: Alamar

Sample lyrics...
The underground is overground
The overground will pull you down
It's how it goes in these times
How we know it's in their eyes

...from the track: “Upstarts”

Anamanaguchi. Wednesday, December 18.  Mr. Smalls.  $12

What we know: Techno music is all “bleep bloop bloop bleep.” These guys embrace that highly accurate portrayal by using the sound cards from old computers and video game systems to create music that sounds like a 1980's video arcade.  The band, from New York City, composed the entire Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World soundtrack.

There are no openers as far as we can tell, and no lyrics either.  So instead we'll leave you with their video from the title track from their new album, Endless Fantasy, and an impression of that video from the blog Kitty Sneezes:

The video for “Endless Fantasy” features one of the most Millenial stunts you can imagine – sending a slice of pizza to space on a weather balloon.  Live streamed to a Brooklyn party, of course. It is beautiful to give pizza new experiences, and anyone watching that video can really identify with that slice of pizza. This is a cyberpunk aesthetic revived the way pop-punk sort of revived punk without the political content: pastel neon, laser space backgrounds, cute girls with piercings, never ending 1980's teenagerhood experienced as you only can in your thirties in 2013 when you can really appreciate it.

B. Conway

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Ticket Giveaway - Wolf People - 10.19.13 - Altar Bar - Show Preview - Concert Preview

Wolf People will be appearing at the Altar Bar Saturday, 10.19. The UK based band is truly authentic with  members hailing from Bedford, and North Yorkshire and their latest album Fain was recorded in an isolated house in the Yorkshire Dales.This will be the first American tour for the band behind their latest album Fain. We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show. As usual just emails us your name to to enter.

From their press:

Recorded in a beautiful and isolated house in the Yorkshire Dales, Fain is the sound of a band at the peak of their creative powers. It's an honest and natural album that allows its stories, its melodies, its themes and structures to breathe. The album draws on more traditional English and Scottish folk melodies than anything they've done before, but not straying from the drop-out fuzz-rock route they've made their own, the influences are vast – British rock bands like Groundhogs, Dark, Mighty Baby and Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac are evident in the swirling and distorted guitars throughout Fain, along with the 60s revival folk of Fairport Convention, Nic Jones, and Trees. Additionally they have looked towards Scandinavian's rich psychedelic tradition both new and old – you can hear the likes of Mecki Mark Men, Mikael Ramel and contemporaries Dungen. You can even hear the band's teenage forays into Hip-Hop in the drums of 'Thief' and 'Athol'.

As evidenced by the first single "All Returns," Fain is more lyrically focused than anything they've previously recorded.. The song tells the story of a dream Jack Sharp (guitars/vocals) had during which an acquaintance had looked into his eyes and seen into his soul whilst calmly describing his faults and inner demons, a truly cathartic experience. However, says Sharp, his life is largely "too banal" for material and he largely draws upon snapshots of history to furnish him with the ideas for lyrics. Stand out track "Thief" is taken from various stories of highwaymen that had been made famous by broadsheet ballads and plays – the likes of Charles Peace, William Nevison, Jonathan Wild and Jack Sheppard. He delivers this story in first person, almost as if he is playing the part of a complete degenerate with little or no conscience or morals. As Sharp says, "It's like a form of tourism. You can visit but not live in the mind of an appalling human being. "

More information on the show can be found here