Monday, March 30, 2015

Perfume Genius at the Warhol Museum, w/ Jenny Hval - March 27, 2015 - Concert Review

After Too Bright, the days of Perfume Genius as a “bedroom artist” might seem more and more remote. It’s an extroverted, Swansian album packed with industrial synths, digital voice manipulation and full-band bravado. But Mike Hadreas’ dance moves at The Warhol looked like he’d been practicing them for years in his bedroom to Madonna records (who he covered that same night). So, in many ways, he’s still very much a bedroom artist.

Hadreas strutted around the stage in a goth-black smock and shiny low pumps. No longer the modest introvert behind a piano, he was unafraid to shimmy over to the stage’s edge and scream in audience members’ faces during “Grid” and a cover of Mary Margaret O’Hara’s “Body’s in Trouble” for chilling jolts. It’s a brash, confident tour to support a brash, confident album.

Although, Hadreas and company occasionally flip-flopped between his quiet, honest ballads of "Learning" and "Put Your Back N 2 It" and the flamboyant, assertive anthems from Too Bright throughout the show — and sometimes in a jarring fashion. Since two-thirds of his material is so intimate and personal, striking a balance between the two sides of Perfume Genius can be a tall order. Some noisy, unapologetic full-band songs were then followed by a two or three song block of Hadreas solo-piano ballads. In his early days, a Perfume Genius show would have been one of these blocks extended for an hour. But with an even mix between the abrasive and poignant, it was sometimes difficult to sustain momentum. Nearly everything worked — the ballads’ emotional impact was just reduced due to its short-burst delivery. If Perfume Genius’ fourth album contains more of Too Bright’s extroversion, Hadreas could be able to pull off two separate sets: half solo ballads, half full-band cuts.

But when both extremes coalesced on the mid-tempo numbers — “Fool,” “Dark Parts” and “Hood” — the result was heartbreakingly effective. It struck a genuine balance, and the band could provide gentle accents to some of Hadreas’ barest confessions.

Opener Jenny Hval brought a video camera, long wigs, yellow chains, bananas (one of which she placed on a mic stand to resemble that famous Velvet Underground-Warhol cover) and projections for an impressive set of performance art. Hval previewed some tracks from her upcoming album Apocalypse, girl, along with honoring her back catalogue. Stark projections of a woman pumping up a red exercise ball (likely from the new album cover), swallowing yellow chains and pulling toilet paper across her face played on a small vertical screen. Hval’s voice is an impressive instrument, both in its towering range and malleability — she can shift from soft, quivering spoken-word passages to towering Bj√∂rk-like extended notes. All in all, a strong avant garde counterpart to Perfume Genius for a Warhol audience.

-- Shawn Cooke

Balloon Ride Fantasy album release show - Pittsburgh Winery - March 28, 2015 - Photos and Concert Review

Photo credit: Long Hong
This Saturday evening at the Pittsburgh Winery, Balloon Ride Fantasy celebrated the Record Release of their full length self-titled LP.

Five-piece Pittsburgh rockers Wicked Chief opened up the night with an overall unmemorable set that really didn't serve to translate their sound well to a live show. The best song in the set was their only new song of the night, aptly named "New Song". One issue was that you could hardly hear the keys and so you begin to wonder why Wicked Chiefs even need someone on keys when it's always drowned out by everything else.  The crowd was appreciative of the set and I'd be interested to hear more new songs from Wicked Chief as the most promise was found in their new song, but their live show needs better sound mixing first.

Balloon Ride Fantasy came on after to perform a great set that was a mixture of their latest songs from their LP and songs from their EP. They're a 6-piece fantasy rock band, comprised of two people on vocals, two on guitars, two on keys, one bassist and one drummer. Any time you have more than 5 members in a band, it always interesting to see how well all the different musical components work together as a whole. For Balloon Ride Fantasy, every piece is ever present in their sound and you appreciate how they've crafted their sound to utilize every instrument very well.

Their set consisted of songs that range from incredibly dance-y to moodier tracks, all infused and injected with a great synth sound that was invoking the crowd at the Pittsburgh Winery to get out the seats and dance along. They opened strong with "Automaton", from their new LP, and had a great flow within their set from song to song with breaks that worked well for both their changes and allowing the audience to catch their breath before continuing on. Other notable songs were "Spellcaster", their Bowie cover and the single off their Balloon Ride Fantasy LP, "Species". There was no traditional encore because, in the words of their vocalist/guitarist Chris, they "literally don't know any other songs."

A lot of credit goes to Jordan, on keys and programming, for his work with the lights during their set. They were timed to match the tracks they were used in and it really transformed the look of the stage of the Pittsburgh Winery to make the stage all their own. Speaking to the band after their show, I learned they were working to add more fixtures to their stage show to further evoke their style. I very much look forward to seeing how they work to tighten up their set and show and would encourage anyone to check out future shows from Balloon Ride Fantasy.

-- Long Hong



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CureRock Benefit Concert at Hard Rock Cafe - Concert Preview - March 26, 2015

Great event happening tomorrow night at the Hard Rock Cafe in Station Square. Now in its fourth year, CureRock is a benefit concert in support of the fight against pediatric and adolescent/young adult cancer.  It also serves as a forum that provides information to educate and help the community battle these diseases. All proceeds benefit oncology efforts at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. A portion of proceeds from CureRock will fund social and resource initiatives for childhood cancer patients and their families, while the majority will be used to fund pediatric oncology research performed by physician's at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

"It's really wonderful to be a part of such a great charity event," says Andre Costello, one of the evening's performers. 

"I've known a large number of people affected by cancer, and I'm sure we all do," says Costello. "I can only imagine what they are going through or have gone through, let alone a child. We should be doing everything we can to see to it that these kids get proper a shot at life."

In past years, CureRock has showcased some of the best local musicians, including bands like Donora, Meeting of Important People, Red Western, Joy Ike, and many more.  This year is no different. Costello & the Cool Minors released their debut LP at the Warhol Museum last year, a performance that earned PMR's 2014 Local Show of the Year.

"Pittsburgh has an amazing community of support for folks that are going through hard times like these," says Costello. "The hospital and the people in it, event planners and organizations like CureRock do amazing things every single day to better the life of children affected by cancer. It is a privilege to try and hold a candle to that in this small way."

Andre Costello

Also performing is singer/songwriter and Pittsburgh native Brooke Annibale.  Here is her song "You Don't Know," which was featured in The Vampire Diaries.

Matt Hires is this year's headliner. The Tampa native released his debut EP, Live from the Hotel Cafe, on the F-Stop imprint of Atlantic Records in 2008, and followed up with two full-lengths and a series of EPs and downloads on the label over the next five years. His latest is Red Eye, an EP collection of B-sides.

Tickets to the event cost $25 and are available online.

The Temperance Movement at Library Music Hall of Homestead - Concert Photos - March 21, 2015

British blues-rock band The Temperance Movement opened for Blackberry Smoke at the Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead Saturday night. Their debut, self-titled LP made it to #12 on the British charts, and they were personally invited to open for the Rolling Stones at a show in Berlin.

Big thanks to Greg Scelp for going out and shooting the show for us and snagging some great shots. You can find him on Instagram @genericpieces.  Do you want to shoot or review shows for PMR? Shoot us an email at pghmusicreport [at]

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cold War Kids w/ Nevada Color at Stage AE - Concert Photos - March 17, 2015.

So while I was off in LA on vacation and gettin' engaged, n'at, the concert train kept on chuggin' along. Thankfully, Jonathan Plum, aka PittIndieFreak, volunteered to shoot a show for us. You can check him out at, if you don't already.

Interested in shooting shows or writing reviews for PMR? Send an email to pghmusicreport [at]  We can't pay, but we can get you into shows for free.