That sentiment is likely shared by many who frequented The Mr. Roboto Project during its more-than-10-year tenure in Wilkinsburg. The all-ages, drug- and alcohol-free DIY venue provided fertile ground for local musicians, hosted an impressive list of touring bands, and provided members with a sense of community.
The Wilkinsburg space closed in February 2010; this April, interim board members settled upon a new location, a former bar on Penn Avenue, in Bloomfield. Now, after months of renovations, the new Roboto is ready to officially open.
"It's taken a little longer than we hoped, but we're happy with how things are turning out," says Roboto co-founder Mike Q. Roth.
There have been many opportunities to follow the progress of the space, including monthly events during the Unblurred gallery crawls, which Roth says "have given us some ideas about how the space can be used." In recent weeks, bands maneuvered around paint cans and drywall for a handful of successful "test" shows. "The sound was much greater than we expected," Roth says with a smile. "We weren't sure how it would sound, because we have all these tile floors and weird corners."
The "weird corners" are a change from the long block of a room that was the old space. In the new space, the shape of the main room lends itself to a slightly odd band-versus-audience setup, which seemed to cause mild -- and short-lived -- unease during some of those test shows. The larger, multi-roomed venue will allow Project members the flexibility and visibility to branch out to other ventures. "If you say, ‘It's just over on Penn,' people are more likely to come out," says Roth. "With the location being more central, we're going to see if we can expand the identity."
Fittingly, Roboto celebrates its opening weekend with the 14th ADD Fest, an annual event hosted in Wilkinsburg every year the venue was open. Ten bands each play 10-minute sets; this year's lineup includes Pancake, Edhochuli, World's Scariest Police Chases and Blood Red.
ADD FEST 14. 7 p.m. Sat., Nov. 5. Mr. Roboto Project, 5106 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $5-10. All ages. www.robotoproject.info