For those ready to rock with Ted Leo + the Pharmacists at Diesel next week, some bad news: the Nov. 5 show has been postponed due to a family emergency. A new date is promised, and Nov. 5 tickets will be honored when that show comes around. We'll holler when that new date is announced. Thank you for shopping with CP.
I caught Friday night's installment of the Dean & Britta "13 Most Beautiful ..." performance, which I previewed a couple weeks ago in the pages of this esteemed weekly; for those of you who missed the boat, it was a two-night stand in which Dean & Britta (they of Luna, he of Galaxie 500) performed 13 songs (most originals, two covers) along with 13 of Andy Warhol's "screen test" short films.
I expected it to be a good performance, but of course I was slightly skeptical -- there are enough things that could go wrong in a situation like this. The songs could distract from the films, the films could distract from the songs, the whole thing could be a snoozefest. I was pleasantly surprised, though: the whole thing worked, and it worked well.
I take some issue with the venerable Barry Paris's review of the event over in P-G land; most of the background he gives is regurgitated press material, some of which he seemingly either doesn't understand himself or doesn't contextualize sufficiently (yes, the folks from the Warhol did slow down the films, but only because that's how Warhol himself chose to view and show them). And his position that the music "could have been a bit edgier for the occasion" but "the audio is frankly secondary" is completely off the mark -- the music was the point of this performance, and if you simply wanted to watch Warhol screen tests you could saunter down to the Warhol any day of the week; his Factory Diaries are on an interminable loop there. But, he's a film critic, and they sent him to review the event, so what can we expect?
Dean & Britta's pieces were, in nearly every case, executed exceedingly well, and explored aspects of the films as presented -- they didn't write stories so much as create and maintain moods, and expand upon impressions made by the films. There were parts of the guitar solos that clearly responded to the characters in the films, giving them a voice. There were blips in the films that reverberated through the music. In only one case did the music appear slightly off from the visuals -- at the end of one screen test, when the song ended early and there were five seconds or so of awkward silence.
If you missed the performance this weekend (and judging from the relatively meager Friday night turnout it's very possible you did), you missed your chance in Pittsburgh. They take it on the road later, the closest performance being at the Wexner Center in Columbus.
I'm not sure what it says about an artist that they'll play three shows in one day ... or that he'll play a better show for an audience that paid nothing than those who cough up $25 for the privilege. But whatever it means, I kinda like it -- and especially when we're talking about the extraordinary singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo. (Earlier this year, I did an in-depth Q&A with Escovedo.) On Monday, his first stop in Pittsburgh was an on-air performance at WYEP, followed by two intimate shows at Club Café that evening. Even by the late show's finale, Escovedo hardly seemed to break a sweat, though his lead guitarist, sucking down a cigarette and chatting afterward outside Club Café, was feeling the burn.
Escovedo's set included material familiar to anyone who caught him at the Three Rivers Arts Festival this summer: songs from his excellent 2008 release Real Animal, selections from his dramatic work By the Hand of the Father, and the odd cover song -- in this case, a taste of the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" and a rousing rendition of Neil Young's "Powderfinger." Notably absent at Club Café were the string section and the poignant introductions Escovedo had offered with various songs that added considerable drama to his TRAF date. With just drums, bass and guitars backing him, his set was direct and to-the-point -- a bit less nuanced than I expected, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Speaking of extraordinary singer-songwriters with punky roots, don't miss Jonathan Richman, formerly of the Modern Lovers, tonight at Mr. Small's. If you've never seen Richman before, expect playful yet bittersweet odes to boyfriends and girlfriends -- possibly sung in Spanish -- and tales of somewhat moody sensitive boys trying to enjoy life's simple pleasures ... with some of Jonathan's exuberant dance routines thrown into the mix. If you're smart, you'll take a special friend to this show.
After we heard that there'd been a fire at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern -- and after we were sure no one was hurt -- our first concern, as well as that of many, was: What's Joe Melba going to do? That guy must play like three shows a week there!
Fortunately, Melba (née Pagano) himself had more important things on his mind: the folks who rely on the bar for their livelihood. So the intrepid rocker, he of Ukiah, Bowhunter, and sundry former bands, organized a benefit show for them. A suitable treatment for a venerable local rock institution in need.
In a show of Bloomfield rock bar solidarity, Howler's Coyote Cafe, a mere half block up the street from the stricken tavern, will host the show, which happens next Wednesday, October 29. It features Bowhunter, On Vinyl, and newcomers Lights Out, Lamp Party. Proceeds will go straight to BBT employees, incomeless for the time being while the bar is restored.
So turn out in force, enjoy the rock music, and hopefully in another couple weeks the pierogies will be a-fryin' and the kinda-old beer from the dollar case will be a-flowin' once more.
As regular readers of this chunk of hypertext are all too aware, last Thursday was the inaugural edition of CP Remixed, our new series of concerts featuring local artists. I was given the enviable task of recording portions for posterity, and the result is further evidence that you shouldn't send a print journalist to do a videographer's job. Okay, it's not that bad -- but it was a learning experience (note to self: don't try the shots from down low right in front of the stage; the lows will max out the mic and make everything sound wretched).
Without further ado, make haste over to CP Video to check out the videos of Discuss, Ohmu, and David Bernabo + Assembly!
When do you know a Pittsburgh boy's really made it big? Obviously, when teen girls are creating weather forecasts for his upcoming shows and posting them on the internet. Julie Bologna, eat yr heart out. Thanks to Chicagoan colleague Jess Hopper for the heads-up.
It's been 12-plus years since Tony Medwid's first Pittsburgh Record & CD Convention – number 27 comes together this Sunday, October 12, at the Green Tree Radisson (they now occur twice a year; they used to be more frequent). It's the biggest record show in the area, and brings together a lot of major figures in regional and national record collecting – Jerry Weber, of Jerry's in Squirrel Hill, for example, and Gregg Kostelich, of The Cynics. Rock, psyche, soul, jazz – think of this as your record goldmine, and come ready to dig through some crates. It goes from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and there's no cost to get in. Questions? Call Tony at 412-331-5021.
So, with the debut of CP Remixed coming up in one week -- that's Thu., Oct. 9 at the WYEP Community Broadcast Center -- we're pleased to announce the lineup for the second installment of the quarterly local music showcase, which will take place January 15. The curator for the second installment is local mashup artist Girl Talk, a.k.a. Gregg Gillis. The performers, handpicked by Gillis for the event, are DJ Cutups, a regular at Fuzz!, Lazer Crunk and other electronic nights, multidisciplinary sound/electronics artist Michael Johnsen, percussive duo Italian Ice (Sam Pace of Centipede Eest and Paul Quattrone), and one more performer TBA.
Future curators for the event include the Warhol's Ben Harrison, promoter and frequent CP contributor Manny Theiner.
The indie hype band you either love or love to hate, Vampire Weekend, is in town this Saturday for a free ticketed show at CMU to rally for their favored candidate in this upcoming election thing, Barack Obama.
It's either dubbed a "voter registration concert" or "Barack the 'Burgh" or both, but regardless, the skinny is that these are bands that support the Dem and want you to get registered (before the deadline, October 6) so you can hopefully vote for him. (Why no coverage of McCain rock shows, you ask? Why the bias on the part of the elite rock media? Let's just say until Daddy Yankee comes to town, we'll likely be wanting for benefit concerts for candidate who's actually older than rock'n roll itself.)
Along with the Oxford comma dudes, locals Lohio, Life In Bed, and Dirty Faces are playing the show, so it's likely to be a good time regardless of your political views, or views on Vampire Weekend. You have to get a (free) ticket, either at the event (you'll be encouraged to register if you aren't already, and you're eligible) or at Obama HQ in Oakland (3516 Fifth Ave.) or Downtown (213 Smithfield) between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. or in front of Doherty Hall at CMU, 9-4.