I really love Vivian Girls.  The combination of Ramones punk, 60s girl groups, and shoegazer music in a lo-fi setting is near perfect.  When I heard that La Sera, a band featuring Vivian Girls member "Kickball" Katy Goodman as the frontman, was coming to Pittsburgh, I knew I had to be there to see it.

First up was Alexei's New Band, featuring Alexei Plotnicov, who I had recognized from the yearly PPP Halloween Comp and who was also apparently a member of the Karl Hendricks Trio at some point.  His performance was really funny with lots of big body motions and exaggerated expressions, but you could tell that he and his bandmates put blood and soul into their music.  The New Band sounded like weirder versions of Graham Parker and the Rumour or Neil Young with discordant/melodic guitar solos; the big overblown resembled the Dictators in the same "ridiculous but endearing" way.  The New Band also had elements of progressive rock, 70's ballads, and jazz, especially when Alexei switched from guitar to piano.  With weird songs about cats and crossing guards it was a fun time.
André Costello and the Cool Minors are a really killer band built on the songwriting strength of singer/guitariist André Costello.  Shoegazer/country Neil Young is how I would describe them, but for the most part they have a pretty classic sound.  André and his band seem to stick to strong, slow pop melodies with occasional outbursts into Evol-era Sonic Youth noise.  I really like their approach and the way that they make these classic sounding songs unique by subtle means.  It's no wonder that André has an actual record deal with an album on Wild Kindness Records.

La Sera played a great set to a huge crowd at the end of the night; you could tell that they were really into it which is always cool.  Katy Goodman swirled around hypnotically and even went and danced among the crowd.  They played a lot of the songs from their second album, Sees the Light,, songs of lost/unrequited love.  With a slower and more melodic, but also more psychedelic sound, than Vivian Girls, these types of songs sound great especially with Goodman's soft, echoing vocals.  The guitar work was excellent with lots of reverb and cool solos, the guitarist on the left even used an Echoplex!  Katy Goodman liked my Vivian Girls shirt, but she seemed very focused on La Sera when I asked her about that band.  That makes a lot of sense because La Sera is really great.  Hopefully they will come back soon(you can get stuff herewhile you wait)!

Manny advertised this show that happened on May 16th as featuring "a large-scale (10+ people) political emo-punk brass band".  It was an awesome show and I saw Greg McKillop again who had played here with Valerie Kuehne back in March.  My friend Charlie Cairone also played his first show in a while with his band Firth of Lorn so everything was like a big reunion.

The Homeless Gospel Choir was first.  I had seen him before at Roup in August during Quiet Sound Night VI; he played mostly the same songs as before in the same kind of way.  The Homeless Gospel Choir's songs are like folk punk or whatever.  I feel like that genre seems ridiculous and sometimes people just seem to use that term to be edgy, but he takes a sort of Jesus is cool, mainstream Christianity is bad kind of approach which I really like.  His new album Luxury Problems had come out before this show and he had it for sale.  The new songs sounded great.

Anna Vogelzang played second.  She used to live in Pittsburgh apparently, but I'm not sure where she lives now (apparently she is also moving back here soon).  She and her upright bass player played lovey, indie stuff that sounded good; usually I don't like this stuff.  There were lots of love songs and some audience accompaniment to her sort of country/Celtic vocals.  Again it was actually really cool, but I'm not sure if it's the kind of thing I want to see all the time.

Firth of Lorn is a band that a high school friend of mine has had for a while.  It is more or less a solo project that sometimes includes other members.  Firth of Lorn sounds like math rock/metal/grunge (maybe like Tool?); they really need a bass player.  Their setlist had included covers so they ended up playing songs that they weren't at all prepared to play; there are over all a lot of kinks to work I think.  It was a good try and they have a good sound, but need better equipment at least.  I'd like to seem them again and see how they improve.

Speaker for the Dead, Greg McKillop's huge folk band, played last.  They stood among the crowd, shifted positions often, and stood on chairs; it made for a fun and energetic set.  There were acoustic guitars, trumpets, an accordion (or something like that), and maybe some other instruments, but nothing was electric.  The band members are gathered from all over and change frequently.  Greg is the leader and sort of directs them which is really cool; everything is loose and semi-improvised.  I really like their song about Worcester, MA.  Their set was the perfect length and a really good way to end the show.  They'll problem come back some time soon and you should probably go, but in the meantime you can listen to their set here.

On May 14th 2012 I booked a show.  This was not actually the first one I have booked, but it was more significant in that it involved touring bands contacting me to play here in Pittsburgh.  Douglas Lucas had emailed me all the way from Louisville, Kentucky about doing a cool drone show that seemed to keep getting bigger and bigger as more people ended up getting on it.

First was Poor Kitty, Seth and Lucy from Roup House, doing awesome spoken word/ambient noise soundscapes.  Lucy's vocals seemed like a "best of" of all of the previous performances that I had released on the self-titled Poor Kitty CD mixed into a new narrative, which was cool, and the set was really good.  Things started off very slow and dry, like a bored beat writer next to a big empty highway.  Things started to build up until everything exploded with crashing boxes and tools being run across sheets of rippling metal.  There was a dramatic pause and everything slowed down before fading away into the dirt-choked, rust-covered distance.

Michael Sibenac from Half-Nelson and Last Supper (which I erroneously labeled him as) played tapes and other found sounds second.  Lots of audio hiss amidst roaring tape growls and spooky echoing things hitting together.  Later everything turned into long synth sounds that droned forever while sounds swirled in the distance.  We traveled back into the ghost machine plant and then that was it.  A lot like Cotton Museum + Cut Hands and killer stuff as always.

Douglas Lucas performed third as Mu.  The black-haired Thurston Moore look-alike started with long synth notes building into a furious loop of spacey, ghost sounds from beyond.  There were lots of soaring high notes as invisible people chanted and feedback escalated as he took a drumstick to his guitar, using it to bend the strings upward forcefully.  The air was filled withthe sounds of things crashing together (books, walls, floors, beds, planes, washing machines, whatever) as his guitar generated an endless assortment of feedback and spring effects.  Mu is awesome stuff.

Ashochious looked like a the Louisville edition of White Reeves (left is Micah, right is Ryan).  They played the slow-lurching 4AM sounds of old machines and Halloween screams as ancient acetates violins created a low dance to the macabre.  Violins changed to backwards speech and watery tape sounds and then we entered a blast furnace/foundry.  The work became busier and busier until fading out into breathing in the darkness.

Manson Girls broke there contact microphone and maybe something else, but played a killer set anyway.  Kyle's heavy military drum beat was unresponsive and repetitious as Gena created distorted feedback and white noise.  They created some slow lurching songs for a while before speeding up to an end that extended into another variation.  It was so good, maybe better than at the Experimental Variety Show at Belvedere's the past year.

I played last with the still relatively new (and much harder to control) Synsonics guitar with weird built in speaker.  My was set was loud, but hard to hear for me; I ended up trying to play something else, but the volume dropped so I just turned it back up and tried to be as loud as possible.  Tons of sludged up distorted sounds with piercing swerving feedback blaring over the top.  Lots of started and stopping towards the end before I tried to play real notes, but than quit again.  I took out my earplugs because I couldn't hear myself and regretted it later.

It was fun booking a show and I've done it pretty frequently afterwards.  This was really good over all, every band was great.  Manson Girls and I also were both invited to play the Louisville Experimental Festival in June, though we couldn't get there on time, but I am hoping to play with Mu or Ashochious again.

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