Thursday, August 28, 2014

Music SPACE showcases innovative local musicians downtown.

This Friday, a pair of local singer-songwriters, Jasmine Tate and Michael Cali, perform at SPACE Gallery downtown, as part of an ongoing music series entitled Music SPACE.

The idea for the series, which aims to showcase "some of the best and most interesting musical talent in the Pittsburgh area," came about when Amy Staggs, curatorial assistant at Wood Street Galleries, and Murray Horne, head curator, decided to expand their infrequent concerts at SPACE into a regular happening.

Amy, who previously booked shows at Club Cafe, reached out to the City Paper's music editor, Andy Mulkerin, for guidance on which local bands might best fit the gallery's aesthetic.

"We saw an opportunity to grow the mission of SPACE ('to realize a working example of an integrated and open art ecosystem in Pittsburgh') by planting a local music seed in the soil of the gallery," says Staggs. "We have several gallery attendants who play in bands and attend a lot of shows, and their energy around integrating live local music in SPACE has been contagious and eye-opening."

The first installment, in May, featured local indie rockers Wreck Loose alongside electronica artist Troxum. "It was two very different bands," says Mulkerin, "but that's sort of what makes it interesting and makes it work."

The second installment of the series, in July, saw ambient dream pop trio Sleep Experiments paired with experimental "melting pop" group The Van Allen Belt.

"We're trying to put together a couple acts that are different enough that they're bringing in different people, but we want it to make sense," says Mulkerin.

While attendees might expect something similar to VIA, Pittsburgh's annual art and music mash-up festival, both Staggs and Mulkerin deny a direct influence. 

"What Lauren, Quinn, and crew have done is fantastic," says Staggs. "While I can’t say that VIA was a specific influence in starting Music SPACE, we both have the mission of engaging and advocating for local music acts."

"It's not like when you have a band at an art opening, and the band is sort of a secondary thing," says Mulkerin. "This is a music event first and foremost."

Mulkerin also points out the novelty of having local bands perform downtown, "where there isn't a whole lot of live music besides jazz that happens."

"It's a chill thing. It's inexpensive. It's not some huge show that's gonna take 4 hours. It's a nice thing at an in-between time on a Friday night, maybe after you've gotten dinner and a drink downtown."

You can listen to a track by Tate on the City Paper's website. They describe her as having a "R&B/Soul vibe...with some acoustic material mixed in."

Upcoming performances include YXU and Ennui, on September 26, and Brooke Annibale with special guest on October 24. Admission costs just $5. SPACE is located at 812 Liberty Ave, downtown. Doors at 8, Music at 8:30.

-- B. Conway