"Under doctor's orders to rest, Cudi sincerely regrets this unavoidable cancellation and apologizes to fans for any disappointment caused. Plans to reschedule the dates are currently on their way and will be announced shortly. All tickets for the following shows will be honored at the new date."
We'll let you know when the show is rescheduled.
Nguzunguzu, comprised of Daniel Pineda and Asma Maroof, opened. The duo stood before a table full of electronic noisemaking equipment and created soundscapes wedged between hyperactive minutes full of dance music. Their sound was sexy, but not filthily so, as they drew from Chicago footwork and dub-house music with just a tinge of UK bass. They have music-making ties to M.I.A., and the shared flavors were made just apparent enough through their tendency toward sampling R&B and poppy tracks but reworking them into a pop culture quilt. Pop samples were re-appropriated so originally that there was no need to pay homage to the sampled artists as they were rarely recognizable anyway. Fair Use at its finest.
Sometimes really great producers fail to take their mixing capabilities to a DJ set, but Pineda and Maroof proved to be equally deft at live mixing and mixed their way right into Gang Gang Dance's set.
The crossover between the two acts was as seamless as one skilled beatmatcher handing the decks over to another. Gang Gang Dance's live set was much like their albums: It felt like one big song equipped with peaks and valleys, but never plains. Even when they did stop between songs the transition was smoothed by the endearing chatter of ethereal vocalist Lizzi Bougatsos, who deservedly got crowd comparisons to Bjork circa Sugarcubes. Not only did she warble through the mystical lyrics with a strong yet fairy-like voice but she also played a myriad of percussion instruments, chimes and anything in sight that could be hit with a stick.
Gang Gang Dance's overall sound is very much percussion-centric, melodies comprised of Bougatsos' chime playing mixed with the small drum set played by Tim DeWitt and other organic drums played by both. "Experimental" could be an applicable descriptor for their sound, however, in comparison to their earlier stuff -- at first listen sounded like noise -- their show on Sunday was an otherworldy cacophony of harmonious percussion backed by synths and just a does of their older anti-music making efforts.
Brillo was steamy but no amount of heat could stop the packed crowd from dancing. Between Nguzunguzu's expert mixing of moombah-like vocal tracks over bass-y layers that made for pretty tunes to Gang Gang Dance's chaotic spirit-driven drumfest, the entire show was high-energy and highly unique.
You may be thinking, right now: What's new with that VIA crew? Don't they have an ongoing series of shows happening leading up to their next big festival? Yes! Yes, they do! And the last iteration of that before they take some time off to prepare for the fest: tonight's Pictureplane show at Belvedere's
Pictureplane is from Denver, where he makes electronic dance pop; a couple years ago, he was named in Stereogum's Band to Watch feature, even though he's just a dude.
$10, 9 p.m., 4016 Butler Street, t's Tuesday, why not?
A few months back, I wrote a feature on Slim Forsythe, the singin', school bus drivin' cowboy of Lawrenceville. Slim's known to collaborate with plenty of bands -- he's got a few different combos of his own (like The Payday Loners), and plays with other folks -- like, sometimes, The Nied's Hotel Band. That band, fronted by Johnny Vento, features some serious old heads (like Ron Beitle, the former drummer of Wild Cherry whose experience led to that song "Play That Funky Music, White Boy," however you feel about that).
The song they collaborated on, and are offering up here, is called "Bye Bye Harley, Hello Big Yellow." Did I mention that Slim drives a school bus? Here it is; *download link expired*
Below is a longer version of the interview we ran this week with Black Francis, a.k.a. Frank Black, of The Pixies fame. He plays a sold-out acoustic show at Club Cafe Saturday, July 22 at 8 p.m.
First, I want to ask about the upcoming album with Reid Paley, who played around Pittsburgh for a while. Everything I read about it makes it seem it was recorded pretty quickly. Was the idea to do an album also pretty spontaneous?
Yes, actually it was. It was extremely spontaneous. I was looking at [my] schedule and thinking, "I could do some recording in that town there for a couple days" -- which was Nashville. And I thought, "Well, I don’t want to do it all just myself, so I‘ll ask Reid if he wants to do some stuff." We got together in New York for a couple days and started it and then we finished it off there [in Nashville].
And does it alternate between songs written that you wrote and songs that Reid wrote?
We wrote them all together and we were singing them with the drive of The Byrds, I suppose.
The other release you have on deck is a Catholics boxed set. Where are you with that?
Well, it’s being put together and re-mastered. We’re just trying to figure out what shape of box it’s going in.
I noticed on The Pixies one that came out before it that the art work was very elaborate. Is it important that the boxed set itself be a new work instead of a compiling of back material?
No, the graphic artist guy was sort of known for his elaborate process, so the boxed set was of course very over the top. I would like to think I am taking some cue from him with regards to the new Catholics boxed set. I don‘t know it will be as over the top.
Do you have the same approach going through all the Catholics stuff as you did going through all The Pixies stuff?
I wasn’t very involved in compiling the Pixies stuff because it was all very established. With the Catholics stuff, all those tapes were in my possession and we had to go through them all and figure out if there was any bonus material in there. There was a little bit of work involved locating all the tapes, but I think we found everything.
Anything you’d like to note about rarities or stuff people wouldn’t expect to be in there?
There are other versions [of songs]. There are a couple of demos. There are some songs that were never released, so-called bootleg kind of things. It’s all going to be compiled in an alphabetical order as opposed to separated off by album. It’s going to be, like, the first vinyl will be A through H, and then it will be I through M, and like that.
So why that approach, as opposed to chronological order or something more ordinary?
I don’t know. I like alphabetizing things, as far as songs are concerned. I have done it occasionally on actual albums before. I’ve done it many times in set lists. On the one hand, of course, alphabetizing things is a way of organizing them so you can find it I suppose, if you are looking through a list or through a library for example. The other reason to alphabetizing something, as a list of works ¾ in this case, a list of songs you are potentially going to listen to, or a set list, if you are going to perform them ¾ it’s a way of randomizing the process, as opposed to trying to tease out some sort of dramatic arc of the material. It’s a way to be cocky. "I don’t need to create a dramatic arc to the material. I can randomize it by alphabetizing it and the drama will be there already." That’s one way of looking at it. Another way is a pop song is a pop song. A pop song is two to three minutes long and that is the entity. The song has a beginning and it has a middle and it has an end, and that is the currency we are working with.
That seems like a much different approach than you’ve had on some of the albums you have released in the last couple years. There are a lot of theme albums and a few centered around more esoteric subject matters. I’m surprised you’d make a statement like that, where the song is the song is the song.
It just depends on what kind of mood you are in. It’s not fun for me to always have the same process, the same parameter. Parameters are nice as a way to organize something. Sometimes you want to be really precious about something and want to carefully place each thing so that the listener can experience it a certain way. But sometimes it’s good to mash it all up and say, "Now you’re all going to just stand there in alphabetical order." It’s also a way to get more on one CD [on the boxed set]. I was trying to max out the CD, make sure each CD was 72 minutes of music, and it’s a way of looking at a body of work, too. We’re not putting all the albums in the way they were originally heard. Everyone’s already got that. This is a way of saying, "Forget about all those albums, look at the whole body of work." To me, organizing it alphabetically is a way to draw attention to the whole body of work as opposed to this thing we do called the LP, where we put a certain amount of it on the pedestal. An album represents cohesion. As for this boxed set, we are trying to represent everything in total so you have to get away from the whole LP thing.
The number of albums you have released in the last ten years, between soundtracks and new studio stuff and odds and ends collections, is staggering. I had trouble counting them. Why are you so prolific? Why so much stuff? Is it because of the ease by which music can be distributed that you can easily get all that staff out?
I think that’s the way of a so-called indie artist. There are some indie artists release very little material and spread it over a long period of time and there are others that are busy bees, that are always getting stuff out. That’s the way of a certain type of artists, I shouldn’t say it‘s a matter of indie versus mainstream. You can look at Prince, who I would not call an indie artist. When he was recording consistently, he was constantly bringing out records. Van Morrison probably has tons of tapes. He comes out with a record every year. I think there is a certain kind of artist. There are some people who work on a regular basis and there are others that devise it up. I just happen to release a lot of things.
Are you ever afraid that, by releasing so many things, each product will not get the notice it deserves?
I don’t really think anyone’s record "deserves" to get seen or heard. It’s sort of like, you deserve what you deserve, all you can do is play your best hand and if you are going to approach everything strictly from a marketing point of view, you could say it would probably do you well to release fewer records because that would work better with the marketing of music and the selling of music, but I am not that type of artist. It’s not that it’s an issue of integrity or anything like that. I like to sell music and it’s fun and I want to be successful because I like having money [but] I’m not interesting in pacing everything out so that I can maximize my sales every time I release something. And from an artistic point of few, I don’t want to sit around and think about this before I release it. I don’t want to release anything that might be not as good. There are some people who are really good self editors, I suppose, but I don‘t really work like that. I‘m not really interested in working like that. I feel like I already do a lot of self-editing in the creation process. I already go through a lot of self-editing, so to self-edit more doesn’t seem fun to me. It’s like painting pictures. I’d rather say, "I painted a bunch of pictures this summer! Here they are!" I don’t want to sit around and go, "Well…" Because then, you have to ask, is [the work] invalid? Is my last record less valid than the popular ones? I don’t know if it’s true. I don’t listen to music that way. Is Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait less valid than Blood on the Tracks? There are people who love Blood on the Tracks, the AllMusic guy, the Rolling Stone guy. You can read the writing of people who go on and on and on about Blood on the Tracks. Guess what? I don’t think Blood on the Tracks is that great! It’s not one of my favorite Bob Dylan records, but guess what? Self Portrait is! I love Self Portrait. Self Portrait is the one that got panned. People don’t even know what you are talking about sometimes when you mention Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait. Self Portrait is a really interesting record -- for me. It’s not invalid.
You are playing solo acoustic at Club Café. Would you like to give us a clue as to what songs to expect?
I don’t know what songs but I have decided to try to play at least one selection from every one of my formal LP releases, to get through the whole lot of them, as opposed a list of songs that I like to whatever. I am playing with [bassist] Eric [Drew] Feldman, so some of it will be dictated by what sounds good as a twosome.
You toured with The Pixies for a while. Will there ever be another Pixies record?
That is the $16,000 question, as they say. I don’t know if there will be another Pixies album or not. I am of that camp of people wanting one. I have fans all the time who are saying, "No, don’t do it. Don‘t mess with the legacy" or whatever. But I don’t know. I’m a working musician and I travel, so that’s kind of where I am coming from. Sometimes only playing material you recorded a really long time ago ¾ it feels a little limiting or something. It feels like there is not a new story to tell there. So far it’s going well. It doesn’t feel like I am in a golden oldies revue and it doesn’t feel like it’s being reviewed like that. We’ve been very fortunate in that we’ve been able to do so many years of touring on a back catalogue. Can it last another seven years of reunions? I don’t know.
[Note: Before I could ask the next question, the reception broke up and when Black called me back he used it as a chance to sing the chorus to "I‘m Not Dead (I‘m in Pittsburgh)," from his 2006 double album Fast Man, Raider Man, a song co-written by Paley.]
Will that be on the set list when you’re here?
I think the only time I’ve played it has been in Pittsburgh so it’s kind of a tradition. That’s really more of a Reid Paley lyric on that song. I wrote it with him and that’s a good song. I don’t really have any Pittsburgh connections, as Reid Paley [has], but in my own mind and in my own heart, I have my memories. They go right back to the early days with The Pixies, the late ’80s.
Can you tell me some of those memories? What sort of things come to mind when you think about Pittsburgh?
I remembering playing in some kind of side street club. It’s just a feeling when you get into Pittsburgh, too. You play there in the summer time and the grass, the weeds, are bursting through every crack in the sidewalk. Everything is growing, even though it is an urban landscape, even though it is an industrial landscape. It has this water and the bridges. The greenery is bursting through everything. And of course, if you are there in the wintertime it is freezing. It’s brutally cold and everything is dead and hard. Then it’s alive again. It one of those places that has one of those cycles.
Your work -- and a lot of the work of the first generation of artists that were deemed "alternative rock" -- always struck me as the triumph of substance over style. Do you think kind of approach permeates younger bands?
I don‘t want to get down on any contemporary acts or anything or any younger bands. There are some really good ones out there. Substance always wins over style. Style is kind of cool and I don’t want to criticize people who all do the same kind of style because then you wouldn’t have whatever, late-’70s ska bands or whatever, so style has a function on occasion but, for the most part it’s the substance that really wins. It’s bands that are caught up in themselves and caught up in their own thing. They are the ones that are really good. Sure, the Talking Heads may have been around the New York scene and they were around a lot of other pop-y new wave bands. But are there really a lot of bands that sound like the Talking Heads that are as good as the Talking Heads? There may be a lot of copycats. But are there a lot of Talking Heads-type bands? No, there is not. There is one band called Talking Heads and that’s the way they sound. They’re about substance. They are not about being part of the new wave scene.
Was that how you felt when alternative rock was taking off ¾ that the scene was not so important; it was still about the material itself?
I was less about the scene, especially the Boston scene, but certainly I was taking a lot of my cues from the previous generation. I would consider a rock generation to be about five years. The bands that I was taking a lot of my cues from when I started The Pixies were probably five years older than me. And that would be people like Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes or Bob Mould of Husker Du or Sonic Youth. There is this little punk band called Angst that I was really into and these were all people who were a few years ahead of me and I was always buying their records and going to see them in the local clubs. So they were cut of a certain clothe.
Lastly, I wanted to ask about the ubiquity of the movie Fight Club. It seems The Pixies, for better or worse, lived out their initial lifespan without one instantly recognizable hit, but it seems "Where Is My Mind?" came to fill that role. That’s the Pixies song my dad knows. How do you feel about that?
I accept it. I accept it and everything that comes with it. There were not a ton of hits in the band, except for that track and maybe a few other ones.
Welcome to another installment of MP3 Monday. Today we bring you a track from Mothershaker. The Southern-fried rock band (with members from Pittsburgh and Cleveland, including sound engineer and former Dropkick Murphys mandolin player Ryan Foltz) recently released the Buzzard Sessions EP. The EP is four songs, recording in late 2009, back when the band was called Mothertrucker. Apparently that one was already taken, though.
The rest of the EP is available at the above-linked Bandcamp page for FREE if you like what you hear here. *Download link expired*
That Bill Callahan … what a gentleman. Two years ago the Drag City singer/songwriter adorned us Pittsburghers twice within a few months: first at a crammed Paul's CDs (one attendee even fainted -- due to the claustrophobic viewing conditions or Callahan's soulful croon? We'll never know) and second, well, the second show never happened. The electricity at the Thunderbird Café (and all of Lawrenceville) stalled due to a ridiculous thunderstorm. No worries, as the man loves us enough to return in support of Apocalypse, his new album. To add, last Friday's show was housed at the sculpture court behind the Carnegie Museum of Art. Longtime Callahan or Smog fans who were absent should quit reading -- you'll hit yourself hard for missing this one!
Following the Ladybug Transistor gig last Thursday, this was the Carnegie Museum of Art's second outside concert of the summer, thanks to folks at the Andy Warhol Museum's Sound Series. Let's demand more shows at this open space! Picture a spacious stage underneath a brick overpass with the Carnegie Mellon School of Engineering building lit in the background. The crowd of 20-somethings (mostly couples) relaxed on the shaded stone steps and enjoyed the perfect summer evening alongside a scattering of older folks. I'm honestly having difficulties manufacturing a negative aspect of the night -- even the sound levels were perfect.
Austin, Texas' Hidden Ritual switched their echo pedals on around 8:00. Their mixture of Beat Happening-like simplicity and darker Echo and the Bunnymen songwriting alone made the $15 ticket worth it. The guitarist's delayed vocals and massive guitar sound (pocketed through his tiny amp) added to their dark tone, but what I dug most was the bassist's staccato lead bass lines. The drummer's repetitious Boom-CHE-Boom-Boom beat was aided with a pair of bongos substituting for toms…and just for the record, it takes a real man to replace a set of drum toms with a set of bongos. Touché!
Part Johnny Cash, part Mr. Rogers, the white-suited Callahan and his backing band soon approached the lit stage after a Kraftwerk-soundtracked set change. For nearly two hours, the extremely gentle moments contrasted with the intensity and fascination of a tightrope walker balancing with no net below him. Callahan stuck to his acoustic guitar, while the other guitarist (who looked a bit ticked off the entire show) noised these panicked flourishes to the songs -- as if a custom "Apocalypse" guitar pedal lay at his feet. The cymbal scraping, hand drumming, and improv sound textures proved the bare-footed drummer's subtle ability to utilize every inch of his miniature kit. Mr. Callahan chose the right musicians to layer his songs to life.
The set concentrated on his new album along with an unexpected number of old Smog tunes -- in fact, his set list spoiled us by the end. Favorites like "In the Pines" and a forceful "Say Valley Maker" appeared along side new songs like the grooving "America." After urging the crowd to cheer for an encore, Callahan granted us with "The Well," "The Sycamore," and ended with "Blood Red Bird" from the Red Apple Falls album. With the exception of a few random requests here and there, the crowd was speechless.
Bill Callahan could've fulfilled his contractual obligations with a few Apocalypse tunes and call it a day, but instead he granted us a special night of music impossible to replicate in any bar or venue. With recent bookings like Low, Keren Ann and Ted Leo, the Warhol Sound Series is bringing sweet sounds for our ears, and I expect more in the future. To end, I'd like to add that the crowd in attendance at this was probably one of the best-looking groups of concertgoers I've seen at a show. Seriously, Pittsburgh, you're looking good!
Happy Wednesday! In preparation for your Thursday, I'm telling you here about two shows going on tomorrow night that you might care about, that I didn't find out about until after this week's deadlines had past.
At ModernFormations tomorrow is Lindefelt, a cello-and-electronics artist from Sweden. He's in the middle of a short North American tour, and appears with Caleb Smith, who will be providing projections. The local band Samoan Cats opens with an acoustic set. It starts at 8:00 and the cost is $5.
Down the street a bit at The Shop, New England noise rock band Fat Worm of Error appears -- they're playing along with another Load Records-associated band, Metalux Whoarfrost, from Baltimore, plays as well, and locals Dire Wolves and Ground Zero Mosque open. It's also at 8:00; the cost is $7 ("or so").
So, do the damn thing!
There's a convergence in DJ-land where rocking a party melds into cultural theory. On Saturday, July 2 at Brillobox, amid the chaotic partying of the holiday weekend, DJ Ripley (Larisa Mann) spoke at Dorkbot, a free-form lecture series featuring "people doing strange things with electricity," and then proceeded to rock the Garden of Earthly Delights party immediately afterwards. From academia to booty shaking, Mann brought the house down with her elucidation of copyright law and metadata and her expert mixing of street bass and dancehall tunes.
Her lecture was a microcosm of her dissertation work, an interesting bridge between the simple metadata components that are fields in a media player (artist, track title, beats per minute, etc.) and deeper ones like cultural rhythmic origins, or riddims, that can make a crowd go nuts if played in the right club.
Mann is an expert in Jamaican dancehall music and the surrounding culture as well as copyright law. She drew upon the concept of the riddim -- Jamaican Patois for "rhythm," or rather, everything in the song minus the vocals -- to demonstrate an area of metadata that is useful to a DJ in her efforts to get people dancing. Certain riddims, she explained, will send a crowd into a frenzy based purely on the fact that they are recognizable. The questions that arose were: How then do we consider these samples within the realm of copyright law? How does a sample that is so culturally ingrained become the property of one person?
Her talk left the room with more questions than answers, a successful pre-party discussion that gave the audience some intellectual stimulation to apply to the set she was about to drop as DJ Ripley.
Her set was chock-full of moombahton, juke and electro-pop remixes with heavy bass, all booty shaking and a lot of world influences. DJ Ripley’s mixing tendencies worked seamlessly with the local support of the evening, DJ (Adam) Cucitroa (who has a similar propensity for bouncy, juke-flavored tracks, and an equally keen ear for blending well) and Garden of Earthly Delights party host DJ James Gyre (with his recent moombah compulsion and deep knowledge of bass music from far and wide).
An evening of party-rocking and cultural theory, Garden of Earthly Delights was a whiplash lesson in copyright law, DJing methods, and dancehall culture. The dance party was more than a dance party -- it was an illustration of the lesson, which was a blend of anthropology, musicology, and law elucidated through the setlists of the DJ's and on the dancefloor at Brillobox. Now if only she could take her dance floor classroom to the Cathedral of Learning. For more information on Larisa Mann's work as a student, teacher and DJ, check out her blog at djripley.blogspot.com/
Editor's note: Yes, this review is a bit late. Fault me for that; I had the copy and didn't post it because I'm a dillweed. Don't let it dissuade you from reading Rick's solid prose on a good night at Gooski's!
Halfway to the show on July 2, I swerved my car to the opposing empty lane of traffic (like a character in some Michael Bay flick) and ventured back home to change clothes. You see, I realized my wardrobe gaffe: a cheap green t-shirt with the name of the very bar housing the night's show embedded on the back. Donning a dive bar's t-shirt while drinking at that actual bar ranks in embarrassment with sporting a red shirt with a yellow star while dining in a local Vietnamese restaurant (the waitress gave me weird looks). Later I realized the ridiculousness of my worries: I was driving to Gooski's --probably the last place in Pittsburgh where people care what you're wearing.
I arrived with a fresh shirt to the smoke-filled bar shortly after eleven. The empty stage signaled a late start, so a 24-ounce PBR was ordered. I carried my beer (needing both hands) past the jukebox playing _______ ________ (insert random post-punk band here) towards the air-conditioned empty back room to wait for show time.
The first pleasant surprise of the evening: Paul Quattrone (!!!, Modey Lemon), as locals Holy Daze had to unfortunately cancel last-minute. He was armed with a disheveled vintage drum kit and a box of electronics for his 88 Sex Biz solo project. Five minutes of distorted samples introduced the set, but electronic rhythms soon crept into the mix. A cymbal crash gave way to a driving drum groove that gradually disjointed more and more. What made his set extra special wasn't the technical proficiency (which was impressive) but instead how his jigsaw puzzle of acoustic drums and glitchy electronics linked together to create what sounded like one unfaltering instrument. His multi-tasking skills put any other band-named-who's-after some Ice-T-lyrics to shame.
Next were two Columbus bands. Half feedback monster, half party band, The Unholy Two thrive in their home turf: the dive bars of America. As if trapped in the dark basement and released maybe 20 minutes a night to wreak destruction on others' eardrums, they unleashed an entertaining noise rock bender. Drummer Bo Davis kept things cemented and steady while Adam Smith cranked Suicide-esque keyboard lines on guitar. Singer/screamer/confrontationist Chris Lutzko abandoned his guitar and his crooked stacked amplifiers to strangle and throw his mic stand for most of the set. Fans of Amphetamine Reptile Records bands pay attention …The Unholy Two's set was finished before we knew it, but they still may lurk in the depths of Gooski's basement.
It was soon nearing a tired one o'clock. Luckily I stuck around for Cheater Slicks. Three of the oldest gentlemen in the bar, their dirty garage-cum-punk rock dates back to 1987. My inability to differentiate between their new and old songs didn't matter, because the overloaded guitar buzzing was easy (and fun) to digest. Tom Shannon and Dana Hatch's raw vocals added hints of melody to the repetitious basic guitar riffs and jolted me awake (or was that the second 24-ounce PBR?). Instead of retrieving a new shirt from home I should've grabbed my earplugs, because the show was LOUD. At the same time, nothing gives you that pseudo-satisfying next-day ear ringing like a short night of messy, noisy punk at Gooski’s.