On August 9th I saw the second Girls Rock! Pittsburgh showcase of 2014 with my friend Grace. It was really great to see all of these young women perform original musick. There were still elements of no-wave and punk mixed with simplistic pop; the lyrics could get pretty strange at times.

Some of the bands were very young
This band had a lot of rockstar potential!

This show was the second(?) I've ever been to at the Union Project. The first show I saw here was the Evens, Ian Mackeye's post-Fugazi project. It can be a strange space, wide and with lots of light streaming in, but it totally worked for both of these shows. The weirdest part might be the natural acoustics that are at work here; they can be bad for a bunch of amplified stuff, but the sound worked really well.

In January, the Mr. Roboto Project is having a recording session with these bands. It will be exciting to meet the members; hopefully I will learn and remember the names of the bands! It's super awesome that Pittsburgh has a thing like this going on, and I hope to support Girls Rock! Pittsburgh next year again, even if it is just by attending and writing about the showcases.

Check out the Girls Rock! Pittsburgh website and maybe even sign up a child for next year's camp!

August 3rd 2014 was the return of the Roboto Punx Picnic. It was held at Arsenal Park in Lawrenceville because there seemed to be some disconnect with people coming out to Flagstaff Hill in Oakland. A lot of acoustic acts and some bands played. We had food and some outdoor games to play; I brought some board games in case it rained, and we went back to Roboto. It rained, but only for a minute.

The May Day Marching Band played semi-impromtuly above where most of the picnic stuff happened. It was loud and awesome. At some point the band drifted off. Ramona, aka Madeline Hyer, played some ukulele stuff. We had a lot of acoustic people play that I don't remember because I was stressing out a lot. Earlier on Stew and I had to go to Shur Save to get drinks and cups for the picnic, Stew had to go get the grill with Jon, and Stew and I had brought my PA for the electric bands.

Jeremy Flynn was the last acoustic act to play. He's really great; a lot of the younger crowd gathered around the stairs to hear him. My band, Secret Paper Moon, played afterwards. We had played two shows before, but a lot of people had not heard us yet. I'd been spreading the word around about the band beforehand. It surprised people that we weren't some kind of experimental/improv/noise band; the audience expected Satyr/Elfheim. They were surprised to see me playing the drums. We played a short set and closed out with Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here". Jeremy Flynn described us as "like Beat Happening meets Boris" which was just perfect.

Wealth played after Stephen Lin read his poetry. Some young kids, around ten years old started to mess with the equipment, yelling into the mic and hitting the drums. I thought they were annoying, but ultimately harmless. Tyler McAndrew and I told them to stop since Stephen Lin was still reading poems, and they did. Wealth was sooo loud! It was awesome to have bands playing in the park. It reminded me of a picture of the band Carsickness I had seen of them playing in Market Square downtown; it seems like things like that never happen nowadays. Despite some parents packing their kids up, it didn't seem like there were any real issues with Wealth playing so Stew and I went to Roboto to unlock the door for Maggie Negrete's Zine Fair Fundraiser.

We got to Roboto, unlocked the door, and set up some tables. I rushed around and almost hurt myself. We got back to Arsenal Park just as Dumplings were finishing up. Stew and I cleaned everything up to head back to Roboto, and I found out that my Zune was gone. Someone had gone into my backpack that had been placed underneath a table. Apparently it was one of those kids from earlier. Nobody had really noticed with everything else going on.

We went back to Roboto. I really didn't want to be there. Stew and I unloaded our gear into the space because we didn't want to leave it in the car; this was the fifth time today that we moved the gear. We had loaded it into the car, out into the park, back in the car from the rain, back out of the car to the park when the rain stopped, into the car again after playing, and now into Roboto. We would even need to move it again to go home! I felt like I was losing my mind! I'd lost my Zune, and I was completely exhausted, but now I had to supervise a show. Some chairs got thrown around, and I left for a while.

I saw Pam, Jon, and Jay in a car. They handed me a guitar that they thought I had left at Arsenal Park. It wasn't mine, but it looked like Ken Kaminski's from Wealth. I told them I'd take the guitar to Roboto, but I figured that doing so would make me feel more overwhelmed so I told them that they should do it. When I got back to Roboto I ate pizza with Stew, and called/texted Tyler that Ken's guitar was at the venue. After waiting outside and eating, I came back in and finished up the show. Shaky Shrines performed a great set! Their vocalist is amazing, and they always remind me of Hawkwind. I ended up buying another Zune, and I still feel bad about freaking out.

On July 26th I played with some very cool bands at the Shop in Bloomfield. I got on this show via Facebook message from the touring band Jerkagram, who I knew nothing about. The other bands on the bill included the inimitable Cyrus Gold and the widespread, but unknown, Highdeaf.

I played first. I've continued moving towards a more crystalline sound, longer pieces of musick, and longer sets. I accomplished everything I set out to do with this. I started with a minimal, reverb-y, crystalline sound that evolved over time. As layers built up, it became noisier, waves of fuzz coming in from the sea of static, until we were floating away into an ocean heading to lands far beyond what the eye sees. I did a second more rocking song after I got Jackson to turn the lights off.

Cyrus Gold played second. I helped with the sound, the Shop not having the best PA to work with. People think Roboto's PA is weak, but recently I've come to learn that it is totally capable and way stronger than some other well-liked venues's. Keith told peeps to donate to Karl Hendricks and then the band got noisy and weird before getting into punk/black metal. The set was really heavy and sounded really great. I like this band more and more every time I see them. Keith and I also made up for some past issues we had when Cyrus Gold was done playing which was cool.

After Cyrus Gold's set I went to Sunoco to get some stuff to drink, and make an important pfone call, but Jerkagram started quickly, and I came back in during one of their first songs. They sounded a lot like Satyr/Elfheim as a band or similar to my former band, Red Ginger. I loved the guitar tone, the vocals, and the drums; Jerkagram is a complete package despite only having two members (brothers!). They incorporated elements of free jazz, drone, post-hardcore, and math rock for a totally unique sound. I had a conversation about the always infamous Manny Theiner after Jerkagram had finished playing.

Last was Highdeaf. The members of that band run the very popular Sickhouse in Homestead where I've never been. Highdeaf is a two-piece, mathy, but a little sloppy. I'm not big on tapping, but I did like the samples they used and the strange synth sounds. I wish the guitar player had some more headroom on his amp, but he had a really thrashy/trashy distorted sound. Jackson read a poem to a song; I'm not sure if he wrote it, but it was really cool. Highdeaf played a short, but focused set which is always cool with me. It'd be cool to play another show together soon.

Check out Jerkagram here: http://jerkagram.bandcamp.com/.

My second show as a member of Znagez was on July 21st, 2014 at Garfield Artworks. We were playing with Brian Hecht's new band, In Arthur's Court; a Cislon-Weeks production, Mortis; and solo saxophone, Curt Oren. Manny had originally asked Satyr/Elfheim, but I had too many solo shows close together. My camera was running out of batteries pretty bad for this.

First up was In Arthur's Court. More Joe Hogle, less Sasha, same Brian Hecht. There were some more beats, and still some horse sounds. Joe Hogle sat on the floor in a priest outfit and prayed to some higher being while chanting. The set was like eight minutes long.

Second up was Mortis, who I hadn't seen before. It included Jordan Weeks, Greg Cislon, and someone else I didn't know. They wore masks and strange outfits. A little plush troll-looking guy got dragged around the floor on fishing line. Mortis played free jazz/noise rock with some strange instrumentation.

Curt Oren played third. He played a minimalistic set: just him and his saxophone. He told us about working on Idaho farms, printing shirts with his ass, and writing songs with his dog. Curt Oren had dog treats and cookies for sale which was pretty funny. His music was a lot like Philip Glass.

Znagez played last, lacking both Bens. We asked Curt to play sax and the guitarist from Mortis ended up playing some wild drums. Our set ended up being extremely free form; it wasn't the greatest. Brian improvised some lyrics at times, and some of the songs went way beyond their lyrical structure. Rob and I had talked about slowing it down before we started playing, feeling it out. We might have sounded better if we had done that.

Back on October 30th, 2012 I booked the band Fins with another band called Ghosts of Chance for a spooky Devil's Night costume party show at The Mr. Roboto Project; nobody showed up. On July 17th, 2014, Fins was coming back and I was playing with them. I got the band Wealth for an additional local, replacing the since disbanded Pants from last time.

I played first, wearing a feathered mask and without my guitar. I used the Audible Disease Sequencenator, mic'd some objects like bells and a water bottle, and leaked in noise from a shortwave radio. I had some trouble getting everything to come in without feeding back, but it worked well. The sequencer provided a backbeat with blips of radio static coming in. Towards the end I let the radio bleed in more and more, classical music and rock riffs from the airwaves. The bells and water were quiet, but rubbing a balloon on the mic and then letting it fly away made some serious noise. I threw some Halloween-themed bouncy balls at the crowd. Manny said I should play some VIA shows.

Fins played after the Satyr/Elfheim carnival. They had expanded to include a bassist and gotten heavier. When I had last seen Fins, I felt like they were a little shoddy and falling apart, but I was also nervous because of the lack of an audience and a little cold. They also had a weird experience on that tour so I definitely don't blame them for rocking 1,000,000 times harder this time. Fins is really fast with a throbbing bassline and vocals that resemble the Nation of Ulysses or Rites of Spring. They're pretty garage-y, punk, noise rock. Their guitarist, John Lydon (not that fucjing Sex Pistol), looks really cool jumping around with his hair flying all over. I now know what people saw in Nirvana in the early 90's.

The newly formed Wealth played third, and last. Wealth includes Bender and Ken from Pants, on bass and guitar respectively, with Tyler McAndrew from Toxic Parents on vocals and noise musician Dan Malinsky on drums. Tyler has some of the most intense vocals I've ever heard, though he might have some trouble with a DI box.

On July 8th, 2014 I was going to play as a member of Znagez, the amorphous band headed by former Rouper Brian DiSanto and featuring members of Secret Tombs, Psychic Boots, and Ali & the Haitians. The show was at Howlers and booked by Keith DeVries. Brian had recruited me to fill in a seemingly, but erroneously, deflated lineup. I was really excited to be playing with Znagez! I first saw them earlier this year on April 19th, at SAD Fest III and aglow with neon encased in synth sounds. Earlier in the day I had to work, so I made due with a smaller setup than usual and rode my bike to Howlers afterwards.

The first band to play was the very straightforward Wrecked Lexus who I had never heard of before. They played thrashy, but still melodic, punk that bordered on garage rock. I was originally kind of turned off by the band, but by the end of the set I wanted to see more. The frontman looked really cool playing with a jerky motion.

Second up was one of the touring bands, You, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. They played some heavy psych rock with some post- or math or emo influence. Their songs had dance beats which I usually hate, but not this time. The guitarist on stage right looked like Efrim Menuck from Silver Mt. Zion and had a huge pedal board. Towards the end You sounded a little like Hawkwind with some really spacey stuff.

Pours, who I thought were called Purrs, were third. They were minimalist and jazzy/indie with only a drummer and a guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist. Like You, Pours also had elements of dance in their music, and could be hypnotic at times. They used some interesting sounds at times, dripping water and 8-bit pulses. I was reminded of Marcona, Nat Homer's band, who I had played with in Brooklyn in May (more on that in a later post).

Znagez played last. We ended up having eight people in the band and causing quite a ruckus. The whole room was filled to see the madness. I brought my smaller travel guitar and three pedals since I had to come from work; I had to use Pours' amp. Andrew played a tiny synth through a tiny amp as he walked through the crowd. Ben Klahr played bass through the PA with Ben Hickling on drums. We also had a drum machine and an additional guitar and synth respectively along with Brian's vocals. I mostly played bursts of white noise, but played some actual chords and stuff when I felt like it would add to the songs. It seemed like a huge mess at the time, but everyone in the crowd seemed to love our set.

July 7th, 2014 was the second show that my new band, Secret Paper Moon, played. Secret Paper Moon features Stew Schmidt on guitar and me on drums; sometimes we switch. We were playing with In Arthur's Court, which is Brian Hecht's new solo project, Cloud Becomes Your Hand, and Ryan Power. I'd seen Cloud Becomes Your Hand a few years ago, and I was excited to be playing with them.

Secret Paper Moon played first. We had practiced a lot before the show, having written three songs since our last performance at Abandoned Store (where we only had two). We started the set with a short improve piece and then went into "Golden Gate", the first song we wrote. After "Trilobite", our second written song, and "Calvin Johnson", the power strip came out of the wall during "Simulacrum". Stew kept playing, even unplugged, but we ended up starting again and doing half of the song. We did a Velvety song called "R.A.F.", and then at the end we did another improve piece with Stew on drums, Sasha (from Actorcop and In Arthur's Court) on vocals, and me on guitar. It was a lot of fun, but a little bit messy.

The mysterious In Arthur's Court was second. Brian put on a crazy costume with a moon-shaped headpiece before starting to play his black telecaster. Sasha played some keyboards and added some beats and samples. In Arthur's Court declared that music had taken a turn for the worse since the year 1215. The sounds of animals making a ruckus mixed with 1000 year-old medieval chord progressions filled the air. In less than ten minutes it was over. Everybody cheered for more horse solos.

The show ended after all of that. Nobody was at the show to see the touring bands; they figured they might as well get a start to the next city. Everybody who was there seemed disappointed, but understood. Maybe next time.

The first 2014 Girls Rock! Showcase was on June 28th. I missed the last one because I got there on punk time, but I made it to this. Girls Rock! is a one-week camp where girls aged 8-18 learn to play instruments, make zines, write songs, and other such things. It took place at the Northside Elks Lodge.

I had never been to the Elks Lodge before, but after entering it was what I expected, sort of a school auditorium filled with parents with a huge bar on one side. There was a line around the bar for free pizza. I ended up getting a few different vegan slices (from Spak Bros.) and I got a weird bingo ticket from one of those machines (and didn't win anything). Near the bar there was all kinds of Girls Rock! merch: tote bags, t-shirts, the 2013 CD, and shirts for each band that the members had screened themselves. A booth for Wolfepack Goods was also there. On the opposite wall was a raffle with items like free admission to a few different museums, a gift card to Soundcat Records, and an origami tree. I bought an arm's length of tickets for $5 and put in for a few things, mostly Soundcat, but didn't win anything.

Before the bands started there was a big speech about what Girls Rock! meant, how it operated, and what things the girls had learned. The crowd was really excited as the first band got onto the stage. I was surprised to see that the bands each included members of vastly different ages. Before each band the announcer read the girls' bios, which often included facts about being royalty or being related to Amy Lee from Evanescence. The bands sounded sort of no-wave, but with elements of pop, punk, and pop-punk. The last band was super cute, color-coordinated, and played a poppy, Beach Boys-esque song. I hope the August showcase will be just as exciting to see to see.

In March I wrote a piece for Ricky Moslen's zine, Drag Me Home. My piece was an analog version of Skull Valley, and the first article published this year; it encouraged me to get back into doing this blog. I haven't looked over the Drag Me Home zine significantly yet, but it features local musicians (via CD), writers, and visual artists (who are illustrating each a band). If you haven't got it yet you should definitely check it out. Lizzee Solomon and Step Neary have some really great art inside.

June 27th was the release show for the zine. Half of the show was at The Mr. Roboto Project and the other half was at Bunker Projects. I got to the show a little late, having worked earlier in the day, and had missed the first set of the night, a member of Legs Like Tree Trunks doing some acoustic stuff. I'm not a big fan of that band so it wasn't a big deal to me. In addition to just wanting to see the show, I was helping out with the sound for the Roboto portions that night.

The second band, first for me, was Allies. They seemed way different than when I had seen them before, perhaps a less interesting band, but maybe I have too much allegiance to Greg Cislon, former drummer. Allies plays a Dischord-esque punk, somewhat post-hardcore and somewhat post-rock but a little bit mathy. They sound similar to the band Rodan. The room was already pretty crowded even by their set so it was hard to maneuver to take pictures and some people came near me behind the mixing board to do so.

Cyrus Gold played third. Keith, former Roboto treasurer, is the vocalist; I don't know the other members. They combine noise rock, black metal, Swans-esque stuff. Very loud, it's amazing to hear Keith screech like he does despite his soft spokenness, and better than when I last saw them (and imagined John Roman on drums). We're both playing with Jerkagram and Highdeaf on Saturday, 7/26, at the Shop at 8pm (don't miss it!).

The Lopez played upstairs in Bunker Projects, the first band of the night to do so. It made the break between bands very brief, which is something I tend to dislike, but the Lopez are really great. Not enough people danced, but there were definitely attempts. The PA had no mixer so Jesse and Steph had to share a mic, which was cute. They played a super solid set, and I really liked seeing the Lopez in a small room like that; it made the set more intimate despite the loudness.

We returned to Roboto to see Harlan Twins, a five-piece band. It was my first time seeing the group, though I had heard about them from friends and seen the name on flyers and on Facebook events. Their set reminded me a lot of CCR or Neil Young, especially the male vocalist who started on guitar and then switched to a pair of stacked organs.

Last, back upstairs, was Trapper's Harp. There were some serious feedback issues that I attempted to fix for much of the set. I'm not sure if it really helped. Coleton and Margo and a drummer I don't know played their Sonic Youth-ish indie rock. I've only seen Trapper's Harp once before, and that time I was annoyed by too many breaks between songs for Coleton to tune his guitar. Here it was a much quicker pace; the songs stood out more from each other. Margo's singing voice reminds of a little bit of Nico (it may just be the delivery).

I'm glad I ended up attending the release for Drag Me Home. All of the bands were good, some new ones but a lot of old favorites, some of which I saw in a different light (or maybe just a different space) after today. Despite being well put together, the show felt really loose, more of a fun party, which I enjoyed a lot. I can't wait until the next issue of the zine comes out! Maybe there will even be another release show? Check out Drag Me Home, and like the FB page: https://www.facebook.com/dragmehome.

 June 20th was my first time attending a Punk Rock Karoake event, and it was a benefit for the very awesome/important Girls Rock! Pittsburgh which teaches young girls to play musick, write zines, and other cool stuff. When I got to Howlers, after a weird encounter in the street where a guy accused me of having a bomb(?!), the place was pretty empty. After the band set up, everyone was too nervous to go first, but one guy signed up with me right after him. I sang "Rock 'n' Roll" by the Velvet Underground after his version of Agent Orange's "Bloodstains", which ended up being the most sung song of the night. The crowd gathered as the night went on, and it was a really great time.

The band was awesome; they were very straightforward and to the point, but definitely skilled. Sometimes the bass player, who was almost 70, would switch to an upright bass which was kind of interesting and gave them a psychobilly vibe. One of the guitarists seemed to have some guitar trouble at times, but it was sort of amusing. Maggie Negrete did a great version of "Damaged Goods" and Ian Semasko did a few songs, the first time I've heard him sing. Sometimes figuring out the order that we were going in got confusing, like when a guy left and never came back which left his listing for "Real Wild Child" by Joan Jett unclaimed for quite a while.

Later I sang "Personality Crisis" with Racheal Green and "Judy is a Punk" with Harrison and Grace. When I sang "Sonic Reducer" I wrapped the mic cord around my neck and accidentally knocked sheets from the lyric book all over the floor, and for "I Wanna Be Your Dog" I took of my shirt and beat myself with the mic. They repeated one of the verses to the song which ended up totally throwing me off. I had planned to sing "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and "Rock 'n' Roll" for a few days so I actually brought some props, white gloves and sunglasses respectively, but didn't end up using either of them. At the end the Lopez sang the Vaselines' "Son of a Gun" together which was really cute.

Here's the complete list of the songs I sang in order:
The Velvet Underground - Rock 'n' Roll
The New York Dolls - Personality Crisis
The Dead Boys - Sonic Reducer
The Stooges - I Wanna Be Your Dog
The Ramones - Judy Is a Punk

June 16th was my first time seeing a show at Cattivo. Crystal Stilts and Juan Wauters (of the Beets were playing. A third touring band called Your Friend got added near to the date of the show. It's weird to have three touring bands, and I wasn't that excited to see Your Friend based on the name of their band, but I was willing to give them a chance. Despite a lot friends exclaiming their love for Crystal Stilts, I couldn't convince anyone to go with me to this show. I was mostly alone for this one, but it turned out to be great regardless.

The only local band, City Buses, played first. City Buses was pretty cool, playing some perky indie/rock 'n' roll; I really liked the keyboard lines. Near the end the keyboard played long warbling notes, but the guitar and drums rarely changed. Things started off strong, but by the end I had become disinterested. Perhaps it was that the songs all seemed to have the same tempo? Perhaps I was expecting a more Gotobeds-style punk (as that band features some of the same members)? Or, and maybe the most significantly, the audience lacked any interaction with the band, staying way back behind the bar the whole time. At a venue like Gooski's or Howlers, City Buses would be cool to see, but this really didn't do it for me.

Your Friend was next. After seeing the band, the name made a lot more sense. The quiet frontwoman, Taryn Blake Miller, had a voice that covered the room like a quiet, but ethereal purr. She didn't look at the audience, appearing nervous, cold, and also powerful. Her guitar lines were subdued, but carried a lot of bite at times (also look at the strange pattern on the guitar body!). The music was bleak, but comforting; it reminded me of Young Marble Giants or Beach House. Because everyone is seemingly lame, they stayed in the bar while Your Friend played. I ended up buying their EP, Jekyll/Hyde, and I listened to it at least five times a day for the next week. Check it out here: http://www.dominorecordco.us/usa/eps/18-02-14/jekyllhyde.

Juan Wauters played next, and it was he that I came to see. For his set the stage lights were turned off, replaced by an elaborate, but simple, and almost amateurish, visual display. On Wauters' left there was a sheet adorned with images from recent releases, American flag, and other such things. On his left he had a lighting display that lit up seemingly at random. The microphone also held two lights that were operated in an unknown manner, turning on/off with or without the beat. His set was stripped down, being just vocals and guitar, except for the few songs on which he was accompanied by bongos. There was a small piece of a Velvet Underground song that abruptly morphed into original material. A few people actually came out of the bar area to watch his set.

After the set I got Juan to sign his 7" and solo album. He wrote some interesting stuff (see below). We talked about the Andy Warhol museum, how he liked to change his songs up each night (the bongos), and then he offered to buy me a drink. I'm straight edge so of course that didn't happen, but I told him I would come hang out in a minute.

I went outside for a second, but Crystal Stilts had just started when I came back in. They had a film projecting onto them, driving scenes in psychedelic colors. There set was dark, shoe-gaze, lo-fi, nearing goth. The singer reminded me of Ian Curtis; he rarely looked at the crowd. They had some synths and some cool guitars (Vox). The whole crowd actually watched Crystal Stilts, renewing the room's energy for what could have ended up being a very cold set otherwise. Despite being a little bored by the one record I had heard by Crystal Stilts, by the time they were done I wanted way more. I bought some CDs and a t-shirt. It's all very good.

June 21st, 2014 was Free RPG Day. I went to Phantom of the Attic in Oakland at 9AM and was the second person in line. I was totally exhausted, I barely slept the night before, but I was really excited too. I never get to these events early and always miss the better stuff, but this time that wouldn't happen. I ended up with the 13th Age starter module, the Dungeon Crawl Classics Blades Against Death module, a set of purple and green FUDGE dice, and the Free RPG Day 2014 die. I ended up playing in a few different games: FATE, FATE Core, and Dungeon Crawl Classics. The first FATE game was part of the Dresden Files universe, which I'm totally unfamiliar with. The GM was mostly trying to teach his friend how to play RPGs so he skipped some of the more interesting rules, such as the Aspects, which to me make FATE what it is. The FATE Core game used characters from Crono Trigger, I played as Ayla, and we had to raid a fortress. I had to drop out before we finished the game. Dungeon Crawl Classics was amazing! There were eight players and I played as a priest. We fought monsters and things got really dark and surreal, but in the end everyone survived.

After Free RPG Day I had to watch a show at the Mr. Roboto Project. It looked to be pretty good, but I was even more tired than before. I got to Roboto early and took an extremely short nap before opening the door to nobody. Some of the members of Rabid Pigs showed up in the next half hour, but it took a while longer until the promoter and other bands arrived. I played some musick from my Zune as we waited for the touring band. I actually ended up falling asleep for somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour, but when I woke up we still didn't have any word from Chest Pain.

Swingers Club played first. They were very heavy, almost Swans-ish. The only played for about 20 minutes. Afterwards there was talk of Hindsight playing the show to replace Chest Pain. Rabid Pigs played second. They play fast, noisy grindcore. I don't see them on a lot of bills, but they played at ADD Fest 2013 and it was pretty rad. They only played for maybe 15 minutes.

Chest Pain ended up arriving in time so Hindsight sat out. Chest Pain is one of the better bands I've seen. Heavy and loud with a wild, shirtless frontman, Chest Pain reminded me of S.O.A. I got totally caught up in their energy, and thought that this must be what it would have been like to see Black Flag back in the 80's. I ended up buying two t-shirts from Chest Pain because I couldn't pick between two designs, an insect with a human head and a black punch card. Don't miss out on seeing this band!

On June 11th, 2014 a show was going to happen that I advertised extensively. An hour before the show it stormed horribly - it was a total rainout. Let's see what happened anyway.

Satyr/Elfheim played first with a record three songs. I started with a sludgey mess called "A Handful of Devils". For the second song, "Dreams in the Witch Hat", I used the Audible Disease Sequencenator for the first time. I used the Moog Moogerfooger Ring Modulator for bass sounds, and I mic'd some bells too. During the last song, "Twirling Lights at Night", I played some Hawkwind-esque solos with the Martin Stinger. Former Rouper Brian DiSanto described my set as, "the best thing you've ever done as far as I'm concerned". I agree.

The second band to play was Ouais who played a solid set, not excessively long. I like them more and more every time I see them. Duos are cool. Their style, basic, minimal, and loud with weird subject matter is cool; there's a classic indie rock vibe, not unlike Vehicle Flips, Volcano Suns, or early Pavement. I love the wild yelps, the thrashy, distorted guitar, and the plodding drums. I had to run to Spak to grab a pizza for a second during their set, but don't miss Ouais when they play near you.

Znagez was third. They were missing some members, apparently permanently (due to some personal differences). I was a little disappointed; the sound wasn't nearly as full as before. JP created some really exciting synth sounds, Ben hit some heavy drums, Rob shredded/riffed better than I've seen him shred/riff in a while, and Brian sang his amazing, unusual songs, but it was a little messy. The set included a hard hitting version of "Padre Phil", the jumpy "Cherry Lemonade", the psych/drone "Abduct Me, Balmy Mothership", the fast punk of "Go Go Go", the sludgey/spooky "Overwhelming Hash Caramel", the cult classic "Fuzzy Bicycle Baby Dolls", some more crazy punk screams on "Dye It Green", stoner metal "The Righteous Candy Cane Laughing Gas Hat", the classic "Grease Slick Space Cave" which had to be played three times, the synonymous "Znagez", Rob's "Fire Gang" (may have got the name wrong), and alien-sounding carnival of "Ben's Hair".

Chicago's amazing Crown Larks is so good and was so next. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to pay them much so I bought a t-shirt and a CD and gave them some of the pizza to make up for it. They had a trumpet player who usually uses some other woodwind and brass instruments, but simplified his sound for this set. Loud guitars, the blaring trumpet, psychedelic drones filled the air like a cloud on a swollen breeze. Crown Larks play a mixture of free jazz and psychedelic rock and a million other things. Their songs build over time until a glorious finale. It's not unlike Wooden Shjips or Bardo Pond. I'd love to have them again, but without the total rainout if there is a next time. Check out some tunes (maybe even buy some):

Finally Robin Vote played last. I had last seen Robin Vote four or five years ago, remembering when Colin had lead a band called Colin and the Shots. I remember when he played at Dean Cercone's graduation party far away in Renfrew. This was similar, but totally different. It was electric alt-country/folk with some resemblance to Talking Heads. I liked all of the songs, but the second song and the last one, "State of Grace", were especially good. I had to cut Robin Vote off a little early, we were way beyond time by then, but I hope it doesn't reflect on my opinion of them.

Sometime ago, I heard from John Roman about a band called Whore Paint that he had described as one of the best bands in the country today. On June 8th they were going to be playing at the Shop here in Pittsburgh. Q booked the show; I was surprised he didn't do it at Roboto, but the Shop did make more sense for this one.

I got to the show early to hear that the Shop's PA was broken. Unstiched played first, or at least attempted to, but the broken PA proved to be a little too hampering for anyone to use. After using the PA for a few minutes, only to get some really tinny vocals, Unstitched switched to using a guitar amp. The amp sounded better, but it was far too quiet to come out over the rest of the band. I asked Q if he thought it was a good idea for me to go grab Roboto's small, secondary PA, but he only shrugged. After I asked some car owning peeps, Ian Semasko and I decided to go and get it. Q didn't know if it would work well and thought that we might be in the way to the show that was already at Roboto, and I had never heard or seen the little PA before, but we took the trip. Roboto was pretty packed, but I slipped through the crowd and found the PA in the back room. It was smaller than I expected. Ian and I got back to the Shop to find that Unstitched was finished and the Lopez were up next.

Before The Lopez started playing, Q and I set up the PA and connected it to a tiny mixer we found. The mixer had some crazy delay set up when we first hooked it up; it took a while to change the delay to a lo-fi reverb sound suitable for Steph and Jesse. The Lopez played a great set even with the little PA; it was definitely loud enough, but any more might have been pushing it. I was one of the few people in the crowd to dance.

Whore Paint played last. They didn't use the mixer. The guitarist had some trouble with her pedal board, and, while she fixed it up, the singer read from Valerie Solanas' Scum Manifesto. Whore Paint played heavy, dancey no-wave (though again I was one of the few people dancing). The singer had intense vocals that reminded me of Pittsburgh's legendary Dress Up As Natives. The guitarist also doubled as a bass player, using two amps at once. The band stopped for a little bit after each song, inviting the audience to share humorous anecdotes about bros/Reddit fedora lamers or to read more of the Scum Manifesto. Dru Bruce and I high-fived over not having a dad, and I accidentally kicked his beer when I was dancing. It was a good night.

Check out Whore Paint and buy their record:

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