Editor's note: This weekend we'll be dropping some best-of considerations from CP music scribes. Here's some commentary on notable live shows from listings editor and Family Circus enthusiast Margaret Welsh!
1. Earth, June 18, Braddock Carnegie Library Theater
Between the all-female Assembly of Light Choir (on tour with sludgy duo the Body), spooky loopstress O Paon, and the current lineup of Earth, of which Dylan Carlson is the only dude, this was a night of great lady performances. Earth is slow, either wonderfully or painfully so, depending on who you ask. I, for one, didn’t much appreciate their slowness before seeing drummer Adrienne Davies in person, serving as the band’s measured heartbeat and hypnotic conductor. Carlson, all in black, resembled both Johnny Cash and the devil, and his sparsely constructed western doom riffs seemed to bathe the room in both good and evil (or, more fittingly, Darkness and Light). I’d speculate that this is what church services are like in purgatory (not least of all because, all together, this show went on for roughly five hours) but I doubt parishioners in purgatory are able to achive such levels of blissed-outedness.
2.Mumford’s, July 20, Howlers
After hearing this Iowa band’s somewhat regrettable name (I’m guessing they had it before Mumford and Sons hit it big), and seeing several of their seven members assembling various horns, I’ll never know what compelled me to stay for their set. Combining frantic ska, rap, Red Hot Chili Peppers-style funk-rock, and ex-Catholic angst, Mumford’s should, by all logic, be terrible. And yet, somehow, they were riveting. From the first few bars of their first song, my face remained plastered with a huge, confused grin.
This was almost entirely because of front man Nate Logsdon, who is built like a young Scott Hamilton and dresses in sweatpants, for maximum mobility. When he wasn’t playing trumpet and/or performed synchronized dance moves with the bass player, he let loose jam-packed lyrical tirades that make “Hard to Be a Saint in the City” look spare. The guy never stopped moving, and never seemed to stop for a breath, even after falling with the grace of a gymnast off of a rickety bar stool and into the minimal crowd. Amazingly, without having listened to them since, I still get a couple of their songs stuck in my head from time to time.
3. Devo, June 17, Stage AE
Many were perplexed by the large number of free tickets available for this show, and the cynical among us, who don’t value anything we get for free, braced for an awkward nostalgia act. Devo, however, did not disappoint. Old hits were played with due fervor and energy, as were the few songs they played from 2010’s Something For Everybody. There were costume changes, and political jokes and bouncy balls. Booji Boy made an appearance and everyone, it seemed — little kids, old punks, the super fans and the people who barely knew who Devo were — danced and laughed and had a great time.
4. Bill Callahan, July 8, Carnegie Museum of Art Sculpture Garden
The peaceful and secluded sculpture garden, the breezy summer weather, Mr. Callahan’s light blue seersucker suit, the slowly setting sun, the enthusiastic fan who stood up, stretching his arms up along with the lyrics, “You won’t get hurt if you just keep your hands up,”: there really was a whole lot to like about this show. Callahan’s set list included treats from the old Smog catalogue, as well as plenty from his latest record, Apocalypse, and he delivered each song with the gentlemanly elegance and class of a Grand Ol Opry star. Is it any wonder that all the indie-rock starlets fall in love with him?
5. Inquisition, December 15, Kopec’s
Love letters to Kopec’s, I could write a dozen of ‘em. And Dagon, one half the thrashy black metal duo Inquisition — and possibly the most gracious and friendly man to ever wear corpse paint — seems to agree. He was effusively grateful for the chance to play the tiny, living room - esque venue, the sort of underground place, he said, that Inquisition played in their early days. Following crushing and highly entertaining sets by Abysme and Brock Samson, respectively, Dagon opened with an invitation, as metalheads crowded around him: "Even if you don’t like black metal or anything to do with Satan, enjoy the music!"
Dagon founded the band in ‘88, recruiting the drummer, Incubus, in ’96, and the two still perform like true believers. Black metal is not a genre known for its warmth, but Inquisition sounded amazingly rich — at times even teetering on the edge of a weirdly danceable bluesy groove — and Dagon’s robotic Popeye vocals were sharp and creepy and hilarious and totally awesome.
Hey all! Here's your rundown of notable local musical things going on this New Year's weekend. See good music and stay safe!
— Identity X presents its annual Abominable Snow Jam at Altar Bar; it kicks off early at 5 p.m. and features My Greater Sky, Curse Icon, The New Era and Doomsday Initiative in addition to the headliners. And there's a promise that Freddy the Yeti (pictured at left) will be present.
— Spinster and CP cover model Elliott Sussman at Lili Coffee Shop, supposedly starts at 7:30?
— Two shows at Smiling Moose tonight — The Beauregards (whom I reviewed this week) at 6:30 and German Shepherd and Onodrim, 10 p.m.
— Bear Cub headlines at Thunderbird Cafe, with Gypsy and His Band of Ghosts and City Dwelling Nature Seekers opening.
— It's a two-or-below show at Howlers tonight, where When Particles Collide, The Lopez, Dan Koshute and Action Camp all play. 9 p.m.-ish.
— Black Coffee plays at Club Cafe, late show, 10 p.m.
— Bropocalypse Now! dance party and drag show with Sharon Needles and Alaska Thunderfvck, Brillobox, 10 p.m.
— The Cheats headline at the 31st St. Pub for a punk rock New Year's.
— Guitar Zack & the Daves play with The Armadillos at Howlers.
— Backstabbing Good People play Thunderbird Cafe.
— Code Whiskey takes care of business at Smiling Moose.
— Brillobox is manned by DJs Keeb$, Cutups, Cucitroa, Dizcrepnnc and James Gyre.
— Shadow Lounge and AVA team up for a Title Town Soul and Funk Party New Year's with Kwest_ON spinning in the AVA part of the building.
— Down n Derby goes down at Belvedere's; don't break a hip as the ball drops!
— APPARENTLY BIZ MARKIE IS DJING AT SAVOY?!
Did I miss your event? Add it in the comments! Be safe this weekend! FYI, AAA's Tipsy Tow program is NOT offered by the local chapter of the organization, so don't rely on that. Call a cab, have a designated driver, wear your walking shoes, etc. etc.
Chaibaba has been around a few years, and chances are you've seen members playing with another band here or there (German Shepherd, Machete, etc.). Yesterday the proggy/jammy rockers released their first video, which is beautiful and features bicycling, fire-spinning, parkour and a ton of peanut butter-and-jelly-eating. Also a few Pittsburgh music-scene cameos. Take a gander:
And now, presented without comment, for your viewing pleasure, or whatever emotion you might associate with watching it: a brand new video from CP readers' favorite metal band, Dethlehem.
Happy Boxing Day!
Today we bring you a new MP3 from local duo Action Camp. Last week, we ran a review of their new EP, Better Made Fast; today, you can stream and download the leadoff track, "Seven Days." Go for it!
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This is where I'd usually tell you what all is going on this weekend, music-wise. But there's not a ton going on tomorrow, being Christmas Eve. Tonight you've got your choice of a few shows, many highlighted in this week's paper — The Long Time Darlings at Frankie & Georgie's; all the things I critic-picked basically.
Also, keep in mind that if you missed this year's WYEP Holiday Hootenanny, like I did, you can catch the whole thing on Christmas Eve AND Christmas on the radio station. It'll air at noon tomorrow and again at 5 p.m. on Sunday on 91.3 FM.
Last week I told you about New Shouts' new holiday song for charity. Now, as Hanukkah begins and Christmas draws nigh, I have a couple other suggestions for you:
— Before it's too late: Nina Sainato's new Christmas album is on sale right now on Bandcamp; enter the code "holiday" and get 20 percent off. I reviewed the album a couple weeks ago; I think if you're into Christmas music, you'll find something you like on it.
— Also before it's too late: Give the guys in Yours Truly a special gift by helping to fund their next album. There's three days left on their Kickstarter campaign to bankroll their new record, and they're two-thirds of the way there. The bonus: There's pie-throwing involved.
— While we're on the topic: Why not consider the gift of local music this year? We had stellar new releases from tons of Pittsburgh bands and artists — 1,2,3; Black Crash; Donora; Boca Chica; Summer-Winter; Slim Forsythe; White Wives; Mac Miller; Jasiri X. A lot of these records are available at local retailers like Paul's CDs in Bloomfield, Desolation Row (Caliban Books) in Oakland and Mind Cure Records in Polish Hill; others can be downloaded on Bandcamp or iTunes, and you can, like, put them on a flash drive and throw them all in your nephew's stocking at once or whatever.
Was a time when I saw The Channel play at the William Pitt Union, back when we were all freshmen or sophomores or whatever. Then The Channel had to change their name to We're Wolves, and I saw them play at House Cindy, which was their house in South Oakland. Then they had to change their name again, to More Humans.
Now they live back in the D.C. area but, amazingly, are still playing together, and continuing to make more and more great music. Or, more greater music. Or, the most greatest music. Whatever. Point is, they have a new video, and I'm going to share it with you here, to make your afternoon more happier! Look there's a ghost!
As happens (pretty much) every week, I've got a new MP3 for you from a local artist. This week it's hip-hop duo SolSis, whom we introduced you to in Local Beat a few weeks back. The track we've got for you is called "Can't Let a Day Go By" (produced by Omar-Abdul Lawrence). Once you stream or download it below, you should also visit their SoundCloud page, where you can follow them and be informed when new tracks are posted.
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In next week's paper I'll be reviewing the debut cassette-tape release from The Garment District, the mostly-solo project of ex-Ladybug Transistor member Jennifer Baron. Baron recently released the a new video from the album, "Nature-Nurture," which features creepy building synth patterns and beautiful vocals from Baron's cousin, Lucy Blehar. The video was made by local filmmaker Keith Tassick, using images from Baron's Tumblr project in which she takes photos of the local news.
Check it out: