Celebration and Chinese Stars open for The Blood Brothers at Mr. Small's Theatre | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Celebration and Chinese Stars open for The Blood Brothers at Mr. Small's Theatre

click to enlarge Ford & The Gang: Celebration
Ford & The Gang: Celebration

Talk about overdue for a time to shine. Celebration and Chinese Stars, opening the upcoming Blood Brothers show, have logged more than their share of road miles. But they deserve the rapt attention of the throngs currently falling head over heels for the Brothers' discordant, herky-jerky prog-core.

Two members of Celebration, a Baltimore trio, have been slogging it out in the trenches since the early '90s. Vocalist Katrina Ford and guitarist Sean Antanaitis first collided in Ann Arbor-based group Jaks, a no-wave-meets-Nick Cave conflagration, then formed Lovelife with drummer David Bergander. Arising conceptually from Lovelife, Celebration is less about rock angularity than it is a sea of molasses from Antanaitis' one-man army of piano, Wurlitzer and laptop-sized "guitorgan." Amidst that heady brew, Ford's brooding Diamanda-meets-PJ-Harvey pipes and Bergander's African-influenced polyrhythms swim with effortless abandon.

Ford talks about losing herself in the ecstasy of that onstage moment when the performer/spectator boundary blurs. It's a trait she definitely shares with Chinese Stars frontman Eric Paul, with his trademark disturbing shrieks and epileptic flailings-about. With dance-punk grooves and guitar shards as razor-sharp as their shuriken namesake, the Stars crisply distill the no-wave/noise-rock energy that seethed from Paul and drummer Craig Kureck's previous band, Arab on Radar. Whereas Arab on Radar was often compared to The Contortions, the Chinese Stars serve as a living platform for Paul's physical James Chance-meets-David Yow contortions.

As long as nobody gets smacked in the face by a mic or stray body parts, the kids'll be all right. Celebration and Chinese Stars open for The Blood Brothers. 8 p.m. Tue., Mar. 27. Mr. Smalls Theater, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $12-$14. All ages. 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com.

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