Tonight, Killer of Sheep holds the first of two release shows for its 7-inch, "Out of Time." (Technically, the record was out before, but in such a limited run that it was re-pressed with the help of Innervenus and Lock and Key, two local labels.)
The all-ages release show is tonight at 7 p.m. at the Mr. Roboto Project on Penn Ave. in the Bloomfield-Garfield area. Heartless, Sistered, Hounds of Hate and Purge open.
The 21-and-over release show happens tomorrow night (Sat., June 30) at Gooski's in Polish Hill; Joining the bill is legendary D.C. hardcore band Iron Cross, and locals The Traditionals, Ratface and Cultivator.
The shows are, punk-style, $5 apiece. Get ready to rage.
Brookyln indie-pop duo Savoir Adore will be coming through Pittsburgh with an appearance at Mr. Small’s Theater in Millvale on Saturday June 30th, as part of its current United States tour. The band recently released the Dreamers EP, made up of the title track as well as remixes from Database, Body Language, French Horn Rebellion, and more. The album, a preview of the Our Nature full-length, has lauded the band critical praise from NME, NPR, and the New York Post, which named Savoir Adore as one of its “10 Bands To Watch”. Check out the band below and if it piques your interest, don’t miss Savoir Adore at Mr. Small’s this Saturday.
East Liberty’s Shadow Lounge will be celebrating its 12-year anniversary this Friday, June 29th. During its tenure, the Shadow Lounge has gone from hosting "glorified house parties" to a contender in the local venue game. Bands have come from all over the world to play the Shadow Lounge over its 12-year span, and the celebration this year will include Brooklyn-based producer Krts.
Better known as Kurtis Hairston, Krts has made waves in the club scene. His beats, while rooted in 80’s and 90’s hip-hop, have included a wide span of influences: indie rock, dubstep, and anything in between. Krts will be helping the Shadow Lounge kick off what is guaranteed to be quite the birthday party.
The event is this Friday, June 29th, and starts at 9 p.m., with Krts spinning from 10 to 2 a.m. Admission is $5 for the 21-and-up occasion. For more information, check out www.shadowlounge.net.
Prepared for an evening of fun with performances from several reputable alternative and indie rockers, thousands of people covered the Schenley Plaza in Oakland with their picnic blankets, lawn chairs, and coolers last Friday.
"The Summer Music Festival is WYEP's way of saying thanks to our listeners by inviting them to a free outdoor show featuring some of their favorite bands," host of the festival and WYEP’s weekday morning show, Cindy Howes, told me. "WYEP is a member-funded radio station that relies on donations from our listeners, so this event is our way of showing appreciation to our supporters. It's also a nice way of getting our community together in a great part of the city."
That it did. WYEP’s 15th Annual Summer Music Festival was a family affair, attended by a diverse group of people of all ages. As the first act to perform and sole local band on the night’s bill, Donora attracted a large crowd early in the evening.
"We at WYEP have been repeatedly impressed with all aspects of this band; the energy during live shows, songwriting, production and general presentation," Howes says. "We knew they would do a great job kicking off the day with a fun set of their high-energy music and great attitudes!"
The sun shined bright as Donora took their act to the stage. Appeasing to summer skies, lead singer and guitarist Casey Hanner dressed fashionably in light gray brimmed sunglasses, a light orange-salmon colored short-sleeve button-up shirt, and light green pants that matched the swoosh on her Nike shoes. The band’s set opened with “The Untouchables,” a song from their late-2011 album release Boyfriends, Girlfriends.
"Their latest CD has really resonated with our audience, they’ve been growing their audience locally and regionally for the past few years, and they are superb live," says Kyle Smith, Director of Content and Programming with WYEP. "They are definitely a band that has the talent to break outside of the local band scene."
Donora’s showcase at WYEP’s Summer Music Festival preceded their Friends Forever Tour that the band has since embarked on. As they put the finishing touches on an EP that they predict will release this fall, they'll be performing several songs from the new release while on tour. The tour started in Boston and will end in Columbus, with a return date to Pittsburgh mid-tour at the Brillobox on June 29. Donora is joined on the road by Rostrum Records label-mates TeamMate.
"It will be a fun tour because we're all friends and I think we have a lot of fan crossover potential," says Hanner. "Both bands love to see crowds dancing and having fun."
Surely Hanner and her Donora band-mates were thrilled as youthful audience members stepped to the front of the stage to dance and sing-a-long during their set at WYEP's Summer Music Festival. The sole local band on the bill, Donora attracted a large crowd early in the evening.
"We owe a lot of our Pittsburgh success to WYEP. They've been supporting us since our first self-titled album," explains Hanner. "We've played a number of events for them and have gotten the chance to play with some really great national acts because of that."
At WYEP’s Summer Music Festival, Donora’s performance preceded three national acts – Great Lake Swimmers, Sharon Van Etten, and Dr. Dog, who had sold out Mr. Small’s Theater in February.
"This year was easily our largest and most successful Summer Music festival to date," says Smith, who’s been working with the festival for 13 years. "The crowd for the day and evening was estimated at over 10,000 attendees by the staff and security at Schenley Plaza. The ideal summer weather helped, along with the excellent line up and performances."
"I circled the park to check out the crowd," adds Howes, this being her fifth year working the festival. "The number of people that were on the plaza was overwhelming. The amount of people and also the diversity of the crowd was a great sight to observe. It looked like all ages and all walks of life were in attendance."
(For photos, head over to WYEP's Flickr page.)
Today's MP3 Monday comes from local pop-punk act Kid Durango. Check out "Golgitha" below.
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Our conversation with Mala was so compelling we thought you'd like to read more. He'll be performing tonight at the Lawrenceville Moose; it's a rare Pittsburgh performance for the London legend.
So you just came back from Cuba where you were working on a project for Gilles Peterson. Can you tell me a little bit about that came about?
It was kind of random really. It was in December and it was the end of 2010. And Gilles Peterson asked if I’d be interested in a project that he’s working on. You know, do you want to meet up and discuss it so. It was really like I just met him. I was doing something for Red Bull at the time. They were doing their academy in London. And we just met up over a pint of Guinness. And he asked, "Do you want to come to Cuba with me? I’ve been working on a project with Havana Cultura, which is this project that’s kind of in place really, to kind of promote contemporary Cuban music."
So without really knowing what I was going into I kind of took the opportunity. As I said in a recent interview for FACT Magazine, over the years of music, I’ve been offered lots of different work opportunities, in terms of production and other sorts of things. But I always have do something that feels right and this felt like a genuine opportunity to do something. I just jumped at the chance, really.
What was it like working with musicians of such a different culture from your own?
I don’t see myself as a musician. I don’t play an instrument. I don’t understand music theory. If you would tell me to hum the note C, I couldn’t do it. I make music and I’ve always made music, just on pure instinct and by pure feeling. And I guess technology allows us to do that today more so because you can edit things.
What exactly was the concept for the album?
We didn’t actually come up with the concept of what we were going to do until the morning when we were having breakfast. Roberto Fonseca, he’s a phenomenal musician, one of those guys who, when you tell people in Cuba, "I’m here working with Roberto Fonsesco," they kind of look at you different.
[The concept] ended up becoming the musicians playing traditional Cuban rhythms at the tempo that I like to make music. Just watching these guys play, I thought to myself, "I don’t know how I’m going to … "
I know I can strip it down and do it my style. That wasn’t really what the issue was. The issue was, how could I capture this magic, which I see created in front of me. Obviously they were traditional rhythms and Roberto would play keys, melodies and stuff over the top while there was a conga player, a drummer and a guy on a contra bass.
But yeah, it was just overwhelming. It was kind of like a little bit frightening to me because I’ve got to take this home and I’ve got to do something which I hope they can respect and appreciate as well. You’ve got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, ya know?
You can only do what you do at the end of the day, because, I’m not Cuban and I’m not a musician like that. I didn’t want to make a Cuban album as such because that wouldn’t be me. nd that’s where I say it really is South London meeting Havana because I went there with what I know and they gave me what they know. And somehow I managed to make a selection of tracks that I’m happy to share with people.
Once you had gone to Cuba and you had experienced the culture, did you go back home and start listening to classic Cuban music or reading more about the culture?
From when I was there, I got all the musicians, some of those were rappers, some of those would play the trumpet. So those people would give me pointers into other music that they liked that was Cuban. I would check out the stuff on that tip. But again, I kind of like going into something totally not knowing because in that way, there’s something you pick up about its natural essence. It’s all-good to be educated in a field. Sometimes that education can bring limitation. So for me, it was just about trying to translate my experience of being in Cuba with the people.
I know you’re a father now; has that change of pace, or even the very existence of your son changed the way you think about music?
It’s funny because he loves some of the tracks from the Cuban record. Almost like he has to play them everyday. I’ve got loads of video of him playing this one particular track. And he just goes crazy. He really likes the congas
I would play him stuff that was more acoustic rather than stuff that was electronic. So he’s very much into roots sounding music. And if I were to put on hip hop, he’s doesn’t really vibe to it. But he really likes weird alien sounds. When I would take him into the studio he would jam on the Moog. If I just load up a normal organ sound he’s not really that interested.
But then from a very young age, his mom’s friend bought him a little toy piano and he used to always crawl over to it and play it. For his first birthday, rather than buying him loads of toys I thought I’d buy him a piano which is something that he enjoys very much.
I actually asked him the other day if he would like to learn to play the piano and he said yeah. So, we were trying to a teacher who could sit down with a 2-year-old and just show him the basics in an entertaining way.
But it’s definitely not something I’m into forcing him to do; it’s something that he’s interested in. He’s just around music, he’s around art and creative things as well so I think he’s just naturally into that. I think all kids are to be honest.
The line at Mr. Small’s yesterday evening for one of the first dates of The Weeknd’s first national tour stretched out past the second door, down to the steps that lead out to Lincoln Avenue. It was still sweaty at 8:30pm, and the cross-section of concert goers in line was impressive. There were groups of folks dressed like they were ready to get bottle service at a dance club (I couldn’t help staring, their attire in the context of Milvale was particularly perplexing), backpack hip-hop kids, indie music dorks, and a wide assortment of college and high school students milling about, wide-eyed and anxious.
Two women stood behind me in line and had this exchange.
Woman 1: “What if someone comes out, and it’s not him. It’s someone who’s really ugly or something.”
Woman 2: “I don’t even know what he looks like.”
“He,” is Abel Tefsaye, the 22-year-old Toronto native and avant-garde R&B wunderkind behind The Weeknd. And as reluctant as I am to assimilate the thesis statements from a handful of clingy, music-journo think pieces in my own writing, I don’t have much choice when discussing Tesfaye. He became a viral sensation in March of 2011 after the internet music community exploded in adoration over the release of his online-only debut mixtape House of Balloons, benefiting from a massive and eager co-sign from Toronto native Drake, even while The Weeknd and Tesfaye remained shrouded in mystery. Fifteen months and two more mixtapes later (Thursday and Echoes of Silence) Tesfaye has yet to accept a press or interview request, and communicates to the world primarily through a fairly terse Twitter account and a blog of de-contextualized photos, leaving his legion of fans and critics to speculate furiously about his music, and in turn, his personality. Maintaining relative anonymity is practically impossible (and usually undesired) for any musician these days, and it’s especially peculiar for an artist who has only released music through the internet. It’s interesting then that Tesfaye remains an anomaly. He’s a musician who feels extremely "of the moment" in sound (futuristic R&B) and presentation (all three mixtape covers look like they were designed specifically to be shared on a Tumblr) but ignores the default setting for his entire generation: over sharing.
Of course, none of this would matter if Tesfaye lacked talent as musician and songwriter, but his trilogy of mixtapes, along with Frank Ocean’s landmark Nostalgia, Ultra, provided a much needed shot in the arm (or bump of a line, as it were) for 21st century R&B. House of Balloons in particular is an arresting collection of narco-induced, post-club bangers, powered by chilly synths, unusually sharp samples, and shadowy, cavernous production. Tesfaye details after-after-hours parties with lyrics that sound like a wounded playboy in a coke-induced fog, evoking the sensual love making metaphors of his R&B forefathers before spiking the mood with ambiguous commands that could easily turn lethal.
Tesfaye’s music remained evocative on his following mixtapes, Thursday and Echoes of Silence, and continued to push R&B further away from shameless babymaking odes (although he definitely has written a few) into another darker realm, one where the endless-party hedonism so mindlessly celebrated on countless Top 40 hits comes with consequences that won’t disappear when the sun rises.
For his live act, Tesfaye has been slowly working over the past year to create a worthy performance that is leagues beyond most viral-internet sensations (Lana Del Rey, anyone?) who usually arrive in desperate need of more seasoning. A small trickle of shows started occurring in his hometown of Toronto, as well as New York and London in late 2011, culminating this past April with a stunning set at Coachella that featured a full band confidently recreating the highlights from his small catalog. It was a surprise then that Tesfaye suddenly tweeted in early June about a string of summer concert dates that included, of all places, a show at Mr. Small’s in Pittsburgh, scheduled for just two weeks after the announcement.
The show was scheduled for 9:00 p.m. with no opener besides a relatively low-key DJ set. An impressive lighting rig lined the back of the stage, and by the time Tesfaye and his band came on stage a little after 9:20, I could tell this would be a step beyond the usual Mr. Small's fare in regards to theatricality. Tesfaye launched into the opening song of House of Balloons "High For This" and a consortium of strobes, smoke, and spotlights lit up the stage. "High For This" was a wise pick for a set opener, and the edgy production touches (especially the lurking, grimey drum hits in the first verse) from the record remained completely intact and amplified. When the chorus kicked into high-drama, you physically felt the impact of the live band, and the crowd sang along to arguably Tesfaye’s best, and darkest, lyrics: "Open your hand/ take a glass/ Don’t be scared/ I’m right here/ trust me girl/ you wanna be high for this."
The track selection was tight, interspersing some gorgeous, synth driven mid-tempo numbers like Thursday’s "Gone" and Balloons' "The Party and the After Party" (which both had their plinking piano lines augmented by twinkling effects from the lighting rig) as well as surprise inclusion Tesfaye’s hard hitting section of Drake’s "Crew Love" ("This ain’t no fuckin’ sing along/ so girl, what you singing for?") from Take Care. His stage presence was comfortable but intense. The usual R&B histrionics never seemed to bubble over into parody. Even when Tesfaye would reach out to the crowd and shut his eyes tight in anguish while hitting an unusually tricky falsetto, it seemed tortured rather than sexy.
By the time the relatively uplifting "The Morning" came around near the end of the set with its druggy guitar line and airy synths, Tesfaye stood with his eyes closed, barely moving besides a slight quiver, and cooly crushed my favorite of his lyrics: "From the morning to the evening/ complaints from the tenants/got these walls kicking like they six months pregnant,"). The set closer of "House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls" should have been the climax of the show, but for the first time all set, the sound of Mr. Small’s failed the finer points of what is arguably Tesfaye’s best-produced track. The churning, complicated synth hits got covered up by the thundering baselines, and the Siouxie and The Banshees sample that seemed so massive on record was swallowed up by a very, very muddy mix.
Luckily, when Echoes of Silence track one "D.D." (or “Dirty Diana”) came on midway through the first encore (there were two, surprisingly), it absolutely destroyed. "D.D." is Tesfaye’s unabashed impersonation of Michael Jackson: an aggressive, dramatic calling out of the seductive, man-eating “Diana” complete with huge marching band drums, and soaring, two word chorus that makes great use of its five syllables ("Dir-ty Di-AN-uhhhhh, ohhh"). "D.D." hit where "House of Balloons" missed, but that’s really nitpicking. Abel Tesfaye is killing it on his first national tour, and his persona has only grown in stature over the past 15 months as he continues to protect his enigmatic image. It makes sense. Tesfaye makes dark, sexy, and dangerous music that should never be played in daylight. Staying in the shadows makes his music seem even darker, sexier. That mystery is a powerful thing.
This week's MP3 Monday comes from indie rock duo Grain. Made up of Wayne Smith and Carla Simmons, Grain has been around for about a decade, carving the way for their unique take on rock and roll. Check out "My Mind's Awake" from the band's new album Echo in the Air below.
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The eleventh installment of the Rhyme Calisthenics MC competition is set to happen Sat., June 16th at the Shadow Lounge in East Liberty. Hosted by Thelonious Stretch and DJ Big Phill, the homecoming competition will run in collaboration with the longest-running hip-hop dance party in Pittsburgh, Classic Material.
Eight MCs will compete for $200 cash, four hours of studio time and free stuff from Timebomb. RC will also feature performances from locals Zone and Shade Cobain & Co., along with New York City's C-Rayz Walz. $10 gets you in for the competition, which start at 10 p.m.
We here at City Paper have been fans of Weird Paul for some time — and Pittsburgh's Rock Humourist in Residence is no stranger to national attention, having spent time on the same label as Dinosaur, Jr. and Sebadoh back in the '90s, and having been the subject of a documentary a few years back. But now he's gone viral.
Weird Paul (nee Petroskey) was one of those kids who had a video camera and, for whatever reason, full reign to do what he wanted with it — which is basically every kid today, but was pretty rare in the mid-'80s. Lately he's been digitizing some of the material he put together back then, and his video about eating breakfast from McDonald's has been making the rounds. A mention on Gizmodo, now a mention on Huffington Post — and now his video has nearly 30,000 views. If you haven't seen it yet: