The 9th Ward's loud, Stonesy blare seemed almost too big for WYEP's Community Broadcast Center, where the band played last week's Third Thursdays happy-hour concert. The band's rough 'n' ready rock was made even rougher with the last-minute addition of drummer Eric Webber, filling in for an absent Paul Quattrone. The band was still teaching the songs to Webber (who drums for Fangs of the Panda and Local Honey) up until the start of the show, and still managed to pull it off with abandon.
A similar act of daring from The 9th Ward is the group's "Butler Street Tour," which will take place next month in Lawrenceville. It's a toy drive benefiting the Children's Hospital Family Care Connection Center, on Butler Street; admission to all shows is $3, or free with donation of an unopened toy. At press time, stops included: Barb's Corner Kitchen (Dec. 1), Remedy (Dec. 7), Equita at the Ice House (Dec. 8), Thunderbird Café (Dec. 13), Belvedere's (Dec. 15), Arsenal Lanes (Dec. 19), Geno's (Dec. 20) and Someplace in Lawrenceville (Dec. 22). Visit www.the9thward.com for details.
Other live highlights of last week included The Polyphonic Spree's riotous, confetti-filled show at the Rex Theatre. Though it was the band's Pittsburgh debut, violist Rick Nelson is no stranger to local audiences -- the New Orleans-based multi-instrumentalist produced one of Adam Evil's albums at Mr. Small's studios, and is a current member of local instrumental art-rock group Mandrake Project. Which perhaps explains the South Side smarts that guided several of the Spree to Dee's Café for last-minute cheap drinks before hitting the stage.
Last week was also, of course, the week of Springsteen. The sold-out show relied very little on greatest hits in favor of cuts from his new album, The Magic, and spooky downers like "Youngstown." One overexcited guy was clobbered by Mellon Arena security as he tried to jump the barrier from the seating into the general-admission "pit" in front of the stage. But a subsequent missed connection on craigslist suggests that hormones, not Bossitude, were to blame. "I tried to jump over the railing and make my way to you ... It took three security guards to keep me away from your charms, baby." So if you're out there, "Blonde against stage at Springsteen concert," some straight 35-year-old Pittsburgh dude wants "to show you that I can Prove It All Night." With blond women and 35-year-old dudes seemingly making up the majority of the audience ... well, good luck.