Chariot Fade returns for first live performance in years, with new and improved lineup | Pittsburgh City Paper

Chariot Fade returns for first live performance in years, with new and improved lineup

click to enlarge Chariot Fade returns for first live performance in years, with new and improved lineup
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Chariot Fade members Jonathan Chamberlain, Jesse Ley, and Stephen Gallo
It’s March 7, 2020, and Pittsburgh psychedelic pop group Chariot Fade is getting ready to open for popular indie band of Montreal at Mr. Smalls Theatre. Chariot Fade — made up of Jesse Ley, Jonathan Chamberlain, and Stephen Gallo — has heard rumblings about some possible new virus, but it’s not something that’s causing them to worry. They’re just getting started. They released their first two singles, “Spotless Century” and “Witness To A Lover,” the previous fall and have a plan, an objective to be deliberate with their approach to live performances. In addition to opening for of Montreal, the band also previously opened for alt/indie group Yip Deceiver.

“The goal was to be very judicious about what we wanted to take on,” says keyboardist and sampler Ley. Little did they know, they wouldn't even be given a choice.

Fast forward to 2022, and Chariot Fade is preparing for its first live show in over two years. The band is opening for Swedish musician Jens Lekman at The Andy Warhol Museum on Wed., May 18, an opportunity for Chariot Fade to reintroduce themselves and one that Ley set up himself when he noticed Lekman had a tour gap between Chicago and Philadelphia.

“I just sort of sent him a message — we had met a couple of times very briefly, but he probably didn't know who I was at all,” says Ley. He asked if Lekman would be interested in playing in Pittsburgh, and Lekman said yes. “This is special in a lot of ways, having taken a more proactive approach of bringing in an artist that we love, which was a very satisfying thing to see that happen. We’re really excited about the opportunity to get back on stage and perform.”

An opportunity to perform actually arose last year when Ley received a message from of Montreal’s tour manager, Eric Carter. The band was setting out on tour in the fall and they wanted Chariot Fade to open for them again.

“It was like somebody called time out after a year and a half, and we just picked up right where we left off,” says Ley. “What a perfect return … it just made sense. We had the show on the books; it was set for November 2021, then Omicron or Delta? One of the variants was on the loose, and they canceled their whole tour.”
click to enlarge Chariot Fade returns for first live performance in years, with new and improved lineup
Photos: Derek White/Bryan Parker
New Chariot Fade members Derek White and Lukas Truckenbrod
But maybe it wasn’t meant to be because now, Chariot Fade, who had empty bass and drum spots, has finalized their lineup. Now joining Ley, Chamberlain on guitar and keyboard, and Gallo on guitar, is Mystic Seers’ multi-instrumentalist Derek White on drums and Lukas Truckenbrod of the psych-rock band Sluggs playing bass.

“These two ridiculous heavy hitters have joined the lineup, and every practice has been so inspiring,” says Ley. “Just seeing these two dudes elevate the material and bring it to the next level has been incredible.”

This fully-formed, enhanced version of Chariot Fade will be debuting two brand new songs during their upcoming performance. One of the tracks is fittingly inspired by Lekman. It’s a sample-based, groovy pop tune that fits in with the musical styling that made Lekman famous. The other, Ley says, is a high-energy rocker. One of the songs will most likely be released as a single, while one is set to be part of Chariot Fade’s debut album, which should be dropping this fall.

So if you want to hear what Chariot Fade has been up to the past few years, your one chance before the album release is at their forthcoming show.
Sound Series: Jens Lekman with special guest Chariot Fade. 8 p.m. Wed., May 18. The Andy Warhol Museum. 117 Sandusky St., North Side. $20-25.