Friday, February 28, 2014

Review: RATM2 & Dookie by Anti-Flag / White Wives, at Altar Bar, Friday, February 21

Posted By on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Tribute bands are pretty bizarre. Sure, it’s fun to see a band play songs you already know word for word, and it’s fun for bands to play those songs. But what motivates a group of musicians to move from playing covers to actively attempting to disappear into another band?

I was already pondering these questions when I walked into Altar Bar last Friday. There, members of Anti-Flag and White Wives — performing as Green Day — were opening for Pittsburgh’s very own Rage Against the Machine tribute band, RATM2. (The Catastrophe started the show with a collection of pop punk covers, which I missed.)

With “Green Day,” I had pretty good idea of what to expect. They were playing Dookie in its entirety, an album almost everyone of a certain age has owned at some point. They played it well and clearly had a good time doing it; the crowd seemed, more or less, to have a blast.

RATM2 ramped things up with audio of President Obama vowing to close Guantanamo Bay. My plus-one, a self-described “#1 Rage-head,” grinned at me. Could it be that these guys were … true believers? Then they launched into “Testify,” and it was … pretty good. Not bad at all, actually. The band was solid, and what Fake Zack de la Rocha lacked in funk, he made up for in charisma. I was quickly charmed. And then he started talking.

The first major offense was when Fake ZDLR held up an iPhone to take a picture of the audience, saying “One ... two ... three … make some noise for the Internet, yall!” My friend gasped: “Zack would NEVER say that!” And it IS hard to imagine the real ZDLR posting photos of his fans — or of anything — on the Internet. Fake Zack, you’re playing right into the NSA’s hands!

But the real jaw-dropper came when Fake ZDLR, after inexplicably comparing the pit to Sochi, segued into the topic of Pussy Riot. “Those bitches are fucking hardcore!” he proclaimed before — from what I could garner (it was hard to hear) — he began to make fun of the un-listenability of their music. Calling women bitches? Showing less than total solidarity with Pussy Riot? COME ON GUYS.

Which (sort of) brings me back to my original question: RATM was hugely popular, and many, many of their fans were (and are) indifferent or hostile to leftist politics. (Sup, Paul Ryan?) And, really, I’d be happy to listen to any band that can play a committed and passable rendition of “Bombtrack.” The best moments of the evening reminded me how great those songs are, and how much fun it is to hear them played really loudly.

But if you’re even going to touch the political stuff — which is such an integral (if sometimes cheesy and mock-able) part of the real band — why not commit to that as well? It’s hard to imagine why or how one could memorize all of those lyrics without internalizing more than “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.” But then again, can anyone in the year 2014 really take anything as seriously as Rage Against the Machine did? Could anyone in 2000? RATM2 may not be Rage we want, but it’s probably the Rage we deserve.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Soundwaves Steelband at Kelly Strayhorn Theater

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Kids can make moves on the music scene too; The Soundwaves Steelband is proving that. They are the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater's premier youth steelpan music ensemble. The ensemble is made up of students from Pittsburgh's Obama Academy of International Studies, Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts High School (CAPA), Pittsburgh Urban Christian School, and St. Edmund's Academy. The ensemble has been performing together for two years. On Friday, February 28th, they will be playing a show at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater as part of a Pay-What-You-Can FAMILYtime event. For more information on this event check out the Kelly Strayhorn's website


Monday, February 24, 2014

Hero Jr. comes to Wooley Bully's

Posted By on Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Hero Jr.
  • Hero Jr.

Rock band Hero Jr. brings back the sound of '70s rock into their music and it works. They sound a lot different than most rock bands these days. They recently released an EP called Tower 18 and the impressive part about this release is that the three tracks were recorded live in their living room. The band made this EP in response to their fans who wanted the raw sound that they bring to their shows. The group plans on releasing a new album in the summer. The Indiana 4 piece rock band will be performing in New Brighton at Wooley Bully's on Wed., Feb. 26th. The show starts at 9 p.m. For more information visit Wooley Bully's Facebook page or Hero Jr.'s website.

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MP3 Monday: Tim Korenich

Posted By on Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Tim Korenich
  • Tim Korenich

This week's MP3 Monday comes from Tim Korenich. The singer/songwriter has a indie rock sound that can be heard in this week's featured song "We Can Start Again". This is the first single from a six song EP that Korenich plans on releasing this year. The song is available for streaming below.

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The Mountain Goats play Friday night (Feb. 28) at CMU

Posted By on Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 10:26 AM

The Mountain Goats
  • Photo courtesy of DL Anderson
  • The Mountain Goats

Here's one I only just now caught wind of: lo-fi-turned-regular-fi indie-folk heroes The Mountain Goats will play this Friday night at the Rangos Ballroom in the University Center at Carnegie Mellon. Local regular-fi indie-pop heroes Donora open the show, and lots of heroes of different varieties will surely be in attendance.

As often is the case with CMU shows, it's free for CMU students, but $10 for non-students. You can't get presale; tickets will go on sale outside of the ballroom at 7:30 the evening of the show, so maybe camp out there or whatever.

More info on the event's Facebook page.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

MH The Verb new album

Posted By on Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 1:34 PM

The Balloon Guide album cover
  • The Balloon Guide album cover

Rapper MH The Verb — who was based in Pittsburgh during his college days, and was hip-hop director at WPTS-FM — last week released a new album, The Balloon Guide. He has a style that's similar to Lupe Fiasco and has a good delivery. The Pitt grad, who now lives in New York City, has played with the likes of Kid Cudi, The Roots and fellow Pittsburgher Wiz Khalifa. A standout track on the new album is "Melly's Walls" which features K. Renee & Max Swan. The album is available for purchase on iTunes and you can also stream it on Spotify. Check out some tunes on his SoundCloud page here.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Mp3 Monday: Stage Hands

Posted By on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Stage Hands
  • Stage Hands

This week's MP3 Monday comes from an instrumental group called Stage Hands. Stage Hands consists of a duo, the prolific Brandon Locher and Gerald Mattis. The song is called "Adaptive Lines" and is the second single that the two have released this year. The song is available for streaming below.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Crowdfunding to help an ex-Pittsburgh musician

Posted By on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 11:09 AM

A couple of years ago, I profiled East Liberty Quarters, a local electro-funk band made up of a who's who of Pittsburgh DJs and hip-hop producers. Since then, one of them, Buscrates (a.k.a. Orlando Marshall) picked up and moved to Atlanta. Last week, Buscrates was hit by a car while riding his bike; his health insurance was not set to kick in until spring, so, while he's going to be OK, he's left with some medical bills — after all, he's got a broken vertebrae.

That's where Pittsburgher Michelle LeMenager stepped in, and you can too: LeMenager, a longtime participant in the arts and music scenes here, set up a FundRazr crowdfunding project to help Buscrates pay his bills. The goal is $10,000; as of this posting, the total donated is just above $2,500.

If you've been touched by Buscrates' music over the years (and if you're involved in hip hop in Pittsburgh, you have been), you might want to throw a few dollars his way during this time of need!

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Monday, February 10, 2014

MP3 Monday: Charm & Chain

Posted By on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 10:11 PM

Charm & Chain
  • Charm & Chain

This week's MP3 Monday comes from a local band called Charm & Chain. The band has a rock/funk vibe to their music. The band has plans on releasing a new EP and will be playing at Club Café on March 15th. The song that we're featuring from them is called "Stonekeep". It is available for streaming below.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

MP3 Monday: Influx

Posted By on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 1:46 PM

  • Influx

This week's MP3 Monday comes from a local folk-inflected indie band called Influx. Influx recently released its first EP, "Latency"; The song we're featureing, from that EP, is "Scumnegie." It's available for streaming below.

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