Music | BLOGH: City Paper's Blog |
Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Posted By on Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 10:56 AM

click to enlarge Review: Noah Gundersen at the Rex Theater, Sat., Feb. 3
CP photos by Emily Bennett
Noah Gundersen performs solo at the Rex Theater

How does that old phrase go again? The one about meeting your heroes? Oh, right. NEVER DO IT. EVER.

I once heard about a writer who was completely elated to meet Ellen DeGeneres. During the interview, Ellen didn’t even smile. That’s enough to scar you for one whole lifetime. I think I speak for all of us here in saying that I imagine Ellen smiling even as she’s cleaning out the garbage disposal.

Just like all those other sayings go, sometimes you simply can’t help yourself. It's easy to imagine that once you meet said hero, you’ll become best friends, and go explore cities and eat ice cream together in the style of an '80s-movie montage, while “We're Going to Be Friends” by the White Stripes plays tenderly in the background.

This is why I had to meet Noah Gundersen. Imagine all the ice-cream cones.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Posted By on Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 4:30 PM

click to enlarge Review: St. Vincent at Stage AE Jan. 9th
CP photos by Meg Fair

On an only mildly chilly night in Pittsburgh, a small crowd gathered early at Stage AE for the VIP experience pre-doors. The feeling in the group was one of nervous excitement and uncertainty about what to expect upon entering the nearly empty venue.

Around 5:30 p.m., about three dozen of us were brought into the venue to play the signature St. Vincent guitar, pose at her bright pink press podium from the album artwork, and explore the merch table without a crowd. But most importantly, this VIP experience included an acoustic performance (“Laughing With A Mouth of Blood” and “Prince Johnny”) and a half hour or so of discussion.

I don’t call it a Q&A because it wasn’t like a press conference. She asked as many questions of us, if not more, than were asked of her, and the questions ranged from serious to silly. I took off my journalist cap and asked her what her favorite holiday is (“Halloween, I guess. Or, no! A nice Easter, actually.”) I won’t say much more on it, just that it was an absolute privilege to engage with such an empathetic, funny and brilliant artist. If you have a strict, "Don’t meet your hero" rule, she’s one artist worth breaking it for.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Posted By on Mon, Dec 18, 2017 at 4:16 PM

click to enlarge Q&A: a chat with Slingshot Dakota's Carly Comando
Photo courtesy of Em Dubin
Slingshot Dakota is a powerful pop duo consisting of vocalist and keyboardist Carly Comando and vocalist and drummer Tom Patterson. The married couple makes exciting music that bursts with far more energy and sonic power than most would expect possible from a two-piece.

Prior to Slingshot Dakota's show at the Mr. Smalls Funhouse with Prawn, People Like You, Us and Us Only and Queen Moo on Tues. Dec. 19, the CP caught up with Comando via email to talk manifestation, cute dogs and how to genuinely support diversity in your own music community.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Posted By on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 3:54 PM

click to enlarge The Barr Brothers switch up its sound on tour for new album Queens of the Breakers
Photo courtesy of Brigitte Henry
The Barr Brothers

I fell in love with The Barr Brothers self-titled debut while driving back from a long weekend of cross country skiing in Thomas, W. Va. I’d been out on mountain trails during the day and frequenting the regionally legendary folk venue, The Purple Fiddle, by night. The Barr Brothers' lo-fi, neo-folk sound provided the perfect soundtrack. It’s a wintry sound and reminiscent of Bon Iver, who I also adored. When I listen to it now, I can still feel the sting on my cheeks of the cold and see the low light flitting across the snow out the car window. It’s fair to say that this band has fit into a deeply sentimental part of my brain and that I went into the show with some high expectations — especially since I also adore their sophomore release Sleeping Operator just as fervently.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Posted By on Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 1:52 PM

click to enlarge First Night 2018 attractions announced (3)
Courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Some cities drop pickles, roses and bologna at midnight. But on Highmark First Night, the ball rises as the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve.

Now in its 24th year, Highmark First Night, sponsored by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, returns on Dec. 31 with more than 100 events throughout Downtown's 14-block Cultural District. (While some First Night performances and attractions take place outdoors, most are indoors.)

This year’s theme, as announced this morning at a press conference Downtown, is “Love, Peace, Pittsburgh.”

The festivities begin at 6 p.m. with children’s fireworks sponsored by Dollar Bank on the Highmark Stage. Afterward, steelpan band Barrels to Beethoven kicks off the night's musical performances with its energetic tropical sound.

Other attractions include the Allegheny Health Network Parade, with Grand Marshal Randy Gilson, artist and creator of the North Side's Randyland, at 8 p.m.; performances by Arcade Comedy Theater’s Penny Arcade, at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Player One, at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. at its new location at 811 Liberty Ave.; and Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers at the Benedum Center, at 7 p.m.

Outdoor warming and cell-phone charging stations return this year, and are located at the August Wilson Center and Katz Plaza.

click to enlarge First Night 2018 attractions announced (4)
Courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Lee Fields & The Expressions headline the night, performing soul and funk anthems from 10:45 p.m. to 12:10 a.m. at the Highmark stage, at Liberty and Stanwix. During the performance, Lee and company will ring in the New Year with the raising of the Future of Pittsburgh Ball and Zambelli fireworks.

Admission buttons for First Night are $10, and are free for children 5 and under. They are available online at, in person at the box office at Theater Square on 655 Penn Ave.; or by phone at 412-456-6666. They are also available at a $1 discount with an Advantage Card at participating Giant Eagle stores.

For $40, attendees can purchase First Night Friend VIP buttons that grant access to priority seating, parking and a private lounge in the O’Reilly Theater, where they can relax with hot beverages and sweet treats.

For more information and a complete list of events, visit

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Posted By on Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 1:19 PM

click to enlarge CMU takes art underground with audiovisual experience SubSurface
Photos courtesy of M&C Photo, CMU
On Dec. 2, a group of Carnegie Mellon University creatives shuttled a crowd of curious travelers from CMU's campus to a limestone mine for a subterranean exploration of sight and sound. The location had been turned into an underground storage facility, but for a night it was repurposed into a deep, winding gallery, a space through which light and sound travelled in interesting and unexpected ways.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Posted By on Wed, Nov 29, 2017 at 11:48 AM

click to enlarge Local hardcore and metal pioneers Code Orange nominated for Grammy
Photo courtesy of Hans Christian Terslin
To say that Pittsburgh's Code Orange is having a good year would be a criminal understatement.

Since we last spoke to the band's drummer/vocalist Jami Morgan, the group has graced the covers of Revolver and Kerrang!; have put out collaborative tracks with members of Megadeth; and had a hand in creating a ToonTrack Doom/Core midi pack. In addition to packing rooms on headlining tours, CO has performed in Europe, with System of a Down; supported Gojira on a full U.S. tour; and is currently on tour with hardcore legends Hatebreed.

Code Orange's Forever landed on Rolling Stone's Top 50 Albums of the Year List, and the band performed "Bleeding in the Blur" live to open up WWE's highly anticipated NXT Takeover III: Brooklyn, in addition to performing Aleister Black's entrance music live. Code Orange is the first band to perform live at a WWE event.

If all of these impressive accolades were not enough, the band has been nominated for a Grammy for Best Metal Performance for its titular track off 2017's Forever. This makes Code Orange the first rock band from Pittsburgh nominated for a Grammy, and arguably the first hardcore band nominated for a Grammy.

Anyone who has been paying attention to Code Orange since its inception in 2008 knows that this success is not a fluke. The band has been tirelessly hustling since day one to make moves and push musical boundaries, always pushing to be the best band possible. From playing shows at the original Mr. Roboto Project and 222 Ormsby and touring on high school breaks to easily selling out the Rex Theater on Jan. 13 this year, the band has been burning a clear path to success, a road lined with blood and sweat and fierce dedication.

This is Code Orange's world, after all. We're just living in it.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 3:44 PM

click to enlarge ANTIfest takes over Mr. Smalls Funhouse and the Mr. Roboto Project Nov. 24 and 25 to celebrate 20 years of A-F Records
Photo courtesy of YOSH

ANTIfest is a two-day celebration and music festival featuring current musicians on Pittsburgh-based label A-F Records. It will also showcase several reuniting bands from the label’s history like Tabula Rasa, The Code and Ma Jolie. All the proceeds from the event will go to The Persad Center and Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.

A-F Records was founded in 1997 by the members of Anti-Flag. The band wanted to create a platform to spread the music of socially conscious and politically active punk bands. As the years have passed, the scope of genre and style has widened, but the mission of giving back remains the same.

CP sat down with label runner and ANTIfest organizer Chris Stowe in advance of the festival to talk about the history and potential future of ANTIfest and A-F Records.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Posted By on Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 12:14 PM

Macklemore brings Gemini Tour to Pittsburgh
CP photos by Jake Mysliwczyk
Macklemore on stage during his sold-out show at Stage AE on Tue., Nov. 7
Hip-hop artist Macklemore came to Pittsburgh's Stage AE last night, hitting the stage in the same yellow Pittsburgh Pirates jersey he wore on Good Morning America in August.

"I like the jersey. It's yellow, it's Roberto Clemente and it's the National League," Macklemore explained in this WTAE article after his TV appearance.

Here are our favorite photo highlights from last night's sold-out show.

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Posted By on Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 12:23 PM

click to enlarge City Paper's 2017 Survival Playlist
Jeff Rosenstock's Worry

In our Nov. 8 issue, we're publishing a collection of protest songs for the Trump era. These are songs selected by alt-weekly writers around the country that inspire action and resistance in a tumultuous political climate. But to keep up the strength to fight, you need to take care of yourself. So here's an alternative playlist, one that focuses more on what songs have helped comfort, console and chill out local writers and activists in the past year.

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