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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Littlest November

Here's two little shows from last November.


On November 14th locals White Reeves and Brother Ong played with Indian Jewelry, Prince Rama, and the Beets.  I didn't like White Reeves set at all, though they had special guest Mike Kasunic of Slices with them and their lighting made him look like cover art from a sci-fi novel.  Brother Ong was very spooky and mysterious; the sound of an ancient temple lost under the night and the desert.  Third was Indian Jewelry who were sort of like noise/post-punk/dance or something (Alien Sex Fiend).  They were really cool, but I remember them wearing me out after a while.  They also used a drum machine, but had a drummer who didn't seem to do much.  I'd totally seem them again if they came back though.  Fourth was the band that I had come to see: the Beets.  I last saw them in 2009 with Vivian Girls at the Andy Warhol Musem.  Instead of the loud and noisy garage rock of a clash between Jonathan Richman and the Velvet Underground the Beets were quiet and down to only two people.  The drummer was new from last time, but the guitarist was the same guy and still sounded like Lou Reed.  They played a short set with no setlist and finished with "Outsider" by the Ramones which seemed a perfect fit.  Last up was the strange Prince Rama who were basically a dance band with a keyboardist and a drummer.  They moved a lot and had a lot of energy.


On Novemer 18th I saw Slices play with Condominium from St. Paul, Minnesota.  First up was Ratface, but I missed them.  I guess they had some trouble because rouper Brian told me that the guitarist had gotten angry (because he or someone else has messed up during a song) and throown his guitar on the Shop's cement floor.  Then he tried to play it and was confused about why it wouldn't work.  At some point a case of beer was also thrown at the audience.  I like Ratface a lot, but seriously guys get yr shit together; it seems like they have so many band issues.  Next up was the awesome Slices who I only saw maybe half of.  They were great as always.  Finally Condominium took the stage and continued the awesome weirdo hardcore.  They had some old Japanese guitars and really played a killer set.  There were some post-punk and garage rock elements at extreme speeds.  After twenty minutes it was over, but it felt like maybe ten.

Here's some stuff from these shows.
Get the Beets new album here. This is the best purchase that you could ever make!
Next time we move on to December.

Monday, January 23, 2012

ADD & SAD: SAD Fest

In response to the Roboto Project's ADD Fest, Roup House hosted the twenty band SAD Fest, doubling the amount of music with the same ten minute sets (things were a little looser though).


First up was the notorious Last of England.  Rouper RJ Myato got more and more naked as Eric Ciora pushed people around.  Eventually RJ started to piss in a bucket, and somehow continued for maybe two minutes; even Eric seemed disturbed by this, looking on in horror.  I was going to kill RJ if he threw the piss at everybody; I really didn't want that on my gear or me, but thankfully he didn't throw it anywhere.


Wasp Nest Head Dress got started quickly after all the piss and nudity was sorted out.  Eric Ross started off with some pretty harsh noise, oscillating feedback and distorted yells with synthy space sounds piercing through at times.  About halfway through he took a drastic turn, picking up a guitar and being suddenly accompanied by another person on drums.  The kicked out some noise/doom for a few minutes before their set was up.  It was really, really good and I hope he does more stuff like that.


I was up next.  The first three bands had all set up ahead of time, but I head some trouble with all of my pedals and had to do some tuning also.  After everything was all situated I started with some hypnotic drone/folk stuff; a loud roar started to build up.  There was a huge buildup into some really heavy and rhythmic grooves before I had let the ethereal waves of feedback take over.  I played some Middle-Eastern/no-wave stuff backwards with a wall of static behind me and finally descended into oscillating fuzz and contact microphone noise.


Whoever was remaining after all of the noise and pissing got to see Brian DiSanto and sing along with his goofy, weirdo pop.  He played some new songs like his song about the Mothman and screamed out his "Fuzzy Bicycle Baby Dolls."  He dedicated a song to people who cheated the government out of money and also played a cool song about burning down buildings and UFOs.  It was a super fun set.

Next we crowded in the living room to watch a video by Josh Rievel.  It started off with some found footage of some cars driving around, but mostly featured him fucking with people in chat rooms.  Funny stuff.


After the video Brother Ong made ambient music with a few different instruments.  He did vocals, harmonica, and his usual shahi baaja.  I think one of his songs was about sunspots.  Early on there was more Oriental mystery while the later stuff he did was very stark and cold.  The last song sounded as if the souls of the damned were chanting a spell to drive out the living.  This was maybe the best set of his that I've seen.


Requiem continued the spooky sounds next.  After starting off with some pretty dark and minimalist repetitions he played some melancholic stuff that was sort of classical with a bunch of phaser and reverb effects encircling around.  Things got very fuzzy next with building white noise covering his guitar before he came back to the spooky minimalism.


We watched another video when Requiem was done.  It showed rouper Autumn walking around in a graveyard, hugging balloons and picking flowers.  Esti Piels, who had made the video, and Autumn played music to it.  They sounded like a gypsy Mazzy Star with a record playing along.  It was like a moment from a silent film captured in time.


After a long set up, Dean Cercone was next and he was great.  Not getting a long time to play Dean did some of his songs and some crazy improve stuff with his guitar and a huge organ or keyboard.  He played significantly more noisily than usual, the organ being distorted or driven by some sort of fuzz.  It was kind of ridiculous when he chugged some beer; I thought that that was sort of a weird sideshow kind of thing or maybe very self congratulatory, but the rest of the set was awesome.


Next RJ set up four amps for Jake Lexso, formerly Ground Zero Mosque, to play through.  He played a ton of synthesizers, some that were built by himself; all of the gear created a sort of humorous rock-star debauchery.  Jake's set was good, he played noisy dance music for what seemed like a long time.  Dean Cercone danced, but everybody stood there listening to the cold sounds.  It wasn't actually as loud as it seemed like it would have been.

Everyone went up to the kitchen, and in the crowded insanity Poor Kitty played, with rouper Seth on the table and rouper Lucy walking about.  Though combining poetry/spoken word and tapes as usual this was probably the strangest Poor Kitty set yet, mostly due to Seth throwing cookbooks and boxes off of the shelf.  Lucy's poem seemed to be about instincts/routines ruining the humanity of people.  "We are none of us sons or daughters."  Seth's tapes had some brutal storm and rumbling sounds.


Buoyhood & Artie played in the living room next.  Artie's guitar added a new layer to Zach's already spacious sounds.  He started off picking single strings, but eventually started using an E-Bow, which was very cool.  There was mostly a lot of reverb and it seemed like their set went on forever, but listening to it again it sounds really good.  Maybe placing them after Poor Kitty didn't work well or maybe I was just really tired.


Things started to wind down with Homeless Gospel Choir.  The beginning was very weird and nervous with him asking everybody to sit down in the living room in a sort of demanding way, but things got friendly very quickly.  Homeless Gospel Choir started every song by saying "This is a protest song."  The whole set was just acoustic guitars and singing; most of the lyrics were religious or political or both, and though his songs were all about problems with society, they were all pretty joyous and cheerful.  I feel like he actually understood what Christianity is supposed to be about.  I liked Homeless Gospel Choir a lot and his last song about people buying things for Christmas from places that use sweatshops for production made me think about a lot of things.  I hope he plays some more shows that I go to or play.


It was back to the basement next; the enigmatic Ken Kaminski and Burnout Warcry were setting up, but there was some fun heckling at the beginning.  They may have been called First World Problems or perhaps just Ken Kaminski and Burnout Warcry.  Jim Storch played drums along with his usual assortment of weird junk percussion and Ken played noise out of his cool  briefcase pedalboard/amp.  They started out with some claustrophobic cacophony, but got more quiet and deathly and frightening towards the end.  As the set went on Ken seemed ready to stop, but Jim kept going on and on.  They ended up playing for nearly twenty minutes, but it was really cool.


Nearing the end there was Ivory Weeds playing banjo and acoustic guitar in the living room.  I'm not sure if he had an amp or not, but his set was very calming after the last one.  He played a bunch of songs with no words.  They were mostly from his new album that was just released in December, check it out here:


Second to last was Kid Brother back in the basement.  I was really tired by now, but this continuing the previous sets with songs and less volume.  He played a cool Danelectro guitar and had a radio-in-a-tunnel kind of sound for his vocals.  Kid Brother played a kind of folk/doo-wop with the already mentioned strange and kind of harsh vocals.  A modern Buddy Holly + Bob Dylan playing John Wesley Harding.


Finally RJ and Matt Wellins, who hates to have his pictures taken, played in the kitchen as Week End.  This band was basically put together for this show and was slightly different than originally thought up.  They started off quiet, but got progressively louder, but not really more heavy or angry, as they went along.  The middle did get a little noisier.  RJ played dissonant guitar thru a tiny amp with Matt Wellins playing something from his laptop; I think he was modifying RJ's guitar tone or playing it back later or something, though I'm pretty sure some of it was not either of these.  Week End was very cool and hopefully do another show.

After the SAD Fest I was exhausted and three bands didn't even show up.  Ryan Emmett, Supervolcano, and Trogpite didn't play for some reason.  It really didn't matter; seventeen bands was definitely enough.

Friday, January 13, 2012

MV & EE: The Handmade Arcade Afterparty


Here is the Panel Den booth at Handmade Arcade, Pittsburgh's craft fair of local artists.  Panel Den is the label/publishing company of rouper Seth LeDonne.  Rouper RJ and Seth sold prints of Seth's paintings along with zines and CDs/tapes of Brian DiSanto, Coyotes by the Way, Golden Quikrete, RJ Myato, and other Roup related projects.  Directly afterwards there was a party at Roup featuring MV & EE and a bunch of locals.


First up was Why Live When You Can Die in the Roup basement.  Coming all the way from Buffalo, NY these guys had a rough time getting their set together.  I liked their set, but it was kind of jumbled with the guitar player stopping a few minutes before the guy on electronics.  Why Live When You Can Die had a kind of mystical sound with lots of deep textures a few feet away and reverb'd chords far off in the distance; at some point there were vocals too.  I'm not sure if they were on tour, but if they were I hope that the rest of it went better than this.  I thought they sounded good, though there was a definite lack of cohesion, but confusion is fun.


The second duo was Host Skull, featuring the prolific Dave Bernabo on guitar and Erik Cirelli also on guitar.  I missed them when they played at the Shop with the Voltage Spooks so it was good to see them here.  They delivered a twenty minute set of instrumental free jazz.  At times they ventured into post-rock territory with sounds like that of Blue Velvet or People for Audio.  Erik used a screwdriver on his guitar during the second half of their set.  It was all really great, but from what I understand, Host Skull doesn't have definite members or sounds.  Regardless, you can get there "Totally Fatalist" LP here.


The third duo, the previously mentioned Coyotes by the Way, was wilder than both of the previous offerings.  They had some of the absurdity of Why Live When You Can Die with some of the cohesion of Host Skull.  Seth set up their amps across the room on a chair, while Joe and he played from a spot on the stairs eclipsed by a red stain of light which enveloped their gothic and deathly performance.  From the gloom they combined textural dissonance with overarching melodies.


MV & EE were up next, making avant-folk from the living room.  MV & EE is Matt Valentine and Erika Elder and I guess they're pretty well known, though I had no idea who they were until this show.  Away in the mist you could hear whispery ghost vocals and watery guitars.  Matt Valentine dedicated some accidental feedback to Coyotes by the Way.  They were really fucking awesome.


The final duo of the night was the folky Pairdown, who I had seen once before when they opened for Noveller and unFact.  They played very classically and continued the move to more beautiful music from MV & EE.  Pairdown's set was very happy and carefree and there were some cool jazzy parts at times; they were sort of a cleaner Host Skull.


Right afterwards this RJ kid ruined the night's duo theme by playing some junk metal junk in the kitchen.  A lot of people left the room, but it sounded really good.  Right after that RJ played another set with a background of some tape that somebody else was playing.  It was a funny juxtaposition.

That was the end of the fun times for that night.  If you missed it you can hear all of it here.
We return to Roup next time with SAD Fest, the counterpart to ADD Fest earlier in November.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

ADD & SAD: ADD Fest

ADD Fest 2011 was the 14th annual for the local hardcore/punk venue, the Mr. Roboto Project.  Ten bands each playing or ten minutes is a pretty cool idea.  I had never gone to any of the previous one's since the old Roboto was way off in Wilkinsburg, but now that it had just come to Penn Avenue, it looked like this year I would be going.


For the "opening ceremony" Brother Ong/Mike Tamburo played a short set in front of the stage on his huge gong.  Despite not being one of the bands who were actually part of the festival, he stayed within the time limit, which I think helped his set over all; sometimes his gonging can go on for far too long with a limited variety of sounds.  Here he created a developing soundscape like a dreaming drain or a fading world.


The first of the actual festival bands was Barren Scepter, who I had never heard of before.  They were fronted by a female vocalist and had a sort of black/death metal sound.  I wish that their songs had been shorter or less all over the place; harmonies, growls, soft, and loud parts sprang up every so often before quickly disappearing.  They went way over the time limit at the end and were probably the band that bored me the most.  Too bad they weren't just full-on black metal.


Second up was Glowworms who I had never heard of before.  They were sort of a combination of the last band with Big Black; I liked Glowworms a lot more though.  They also had a strange dancer with them who got progressively more naked as their set went on.  After all of the stripping and sludge and metal rouper Brian DiSanto, Greg Kolls, and I all went to eat at Spak Brothers and take a break.  The next band, Edhochuli, was setting up; I had heard of them before, but wasn't that interested in seeing another band like the last two.


When we came back Glowworms was finishing and Pancake came on quickly afterwards.  I lost the good view that I had had previously and felt more like a spectator, but they sounded pretty good.  Pancake is apparently an older riot grrl band with heavy drumming and sort of Sleater-Kinney vocals.  Pancake ranged from full-on speed to weird plodding dissonance; some songs were like Bikini Kill's "Thurston Hearts the Who."  The singer thrashed about in a cool way; I wish that I could have got a closer view.


After Pancake was done I got back to the front; Gutter Glitter was setting up.  They had a glam look and a pop-punk sound.  Nothing was very harsh or extreme, most of their songs being slow and melodic.  Sometimes they rushed a little and did some sloppy/lo-fi solos.  It was kind of like 60's pop + 80's lo-fi Sebadoh or Big Dipper stuff with a huge chance of their songs sticking in yr head for later.  This was the start of when things began to be less hardcore all the time.



Sixth to play was Strip Club which was Manson Girls and Night Stalker combined.  Josh Rievel, who is also in Free Clinic, wore a funny hat.  Strip Club featured two drummers, playing mostly toms, and two guitarists, making mostly feedback.  Not much changed for the length of their set which consumed all of the time available and didn't go into the excess.  They were like early Sonic Youth or Swans with harsh no-wave noise and pounding plodding drums.  Strip Club was awesome and a nice change of pace from all of the hard fast bands that made up a good chunk of the show.


After the repetitive onslaught of Strip Club was the very cool Blood Red, featuring Dave Rosenstraus of Pissed Jeans.  I have never heard Pissed Jeans before but apparently they are a noise rock/hardcore band which I figure probably sounds like Big Black.  Rosenstraus is involved with a lot of Braddock straight edge bands like Hounds of Hate and Drink Dust.  Blood Red, in which he is the frontman, was awesome.  They played hardcore and covered "The Big Takeover" by Bad Brains, which they humorously dedicated to Manny Theiner, and "Wave of Mutilation" by the Pixies.

I took another break while the next band, World's Scariest Police Chases, was setting up.  I didn't like that they had a "uniform," all wearing similarly logo'd band shirts, but I still felt bad for going outside.  Still it was pretty tiring seeing so many bands in a row.



When I came back there was The Lopez: a band with two members and very much dissimilar to the earlier bands.  The Lopez was not at all hardcore, but they weren't like Strip Club or Gutter Glitter either.  Using only a guitar, keyboards and drum machine they played loud, fast, and even noisy, pop similar to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Math the Band.  The vocals were often like Kathleen Hannah's with the melodies treading into Ramones or Vaselines territory.  Definitely an awesome set; lots of fun and very energetic.


Finally we have The Gotobeds, possibly named after a member of Wire.  They were really exciting and fast and sounded super great, somewhat Minor Threat, somewhat The Damned.  The singer/guitarist flailed around a lot; they had a cool uncaring attitude.  It was all very punk in a garage rock way and made a good end to the DIY festival.

ADD Fest was pretty cool and I'll definitely go next year.  Some aspects were kind of weird though.  There should have been some younger, but still semi-established bands.  So many people there seemed to be in their thirties or forties and sort of reliving the early nineties.  I felt very out of loop.  I don't think that the selection was really bad though and have nothing against the people who were there or anything.  I hope next year though that there could be a little more variety (only slightly, I don't want Roboto to turn into the Shop or whatever, it should still retain the things that make it Roboto) and perhaps more East End bands.

Here are some MP3s from the festival.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A New Year Upcoming

Happy New Year to everybody!

Skull Valley is becoming more up to date by the end of January and should stay that way for a long time.

Also:
I am playing this show on the 14th as a member of Mouth Eraser (formerly Mousy Razor) with other bands like Relationships, Legs Like Tree Trunks,and Jason Zeh.
Facebook event here
 

Also here is a video that my friend Seth LeDonne did for Christmas.  Better watch it before the snow melts!



Next post we explore some of November with the Roboto Project's annual ADD Fest!

UPDATE: Mouth Eraser is no longer playing the Roup 200 Party.  Dire Wolves has taken our place.  This is very disappointing to me, but whatever.