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Under-School of Post-Punk Lo-Fi

My friend Ocasia and I took a bus to Munhall for a sorta no-wave show at a new school/basement venue. I was excited to see the bands, especially Mercury Uncovered, who I had only seen mention of recently, and Tanning Machine, one of my favorite Pittsburgh bands. The trip to the venue was much easier than I thought it would be, though we went through Oakland and heard some students be whiny about taking the bus for one block. When we hit Munhall, everything was super run down. We walked past the emptiest pizza place I have ever seen. It was one room, about 25 by 25 feet, with pop machines and an ATM. For whatever reason, all of those things were pushed into one corner, leaving another totally bear. A few steps away, we made it to the venue.

Mercury Uncovered was the first band to play. It's an odd setup: drums, vocals, and a computer. The band really made me think of early no-wave stuff like DNA, Mars, or the first Sonic Youth record. Rin, the vocalist, was sort of shy, but it kind of added to the set in a way. The awkwardness reminded me of the smaller post-punk bands that you might find on Messthetics comps. It's very mysterious, especially in this cavernous venue. I'm playing with Mercury Uncovered on July 14th at Howler's.

We went upstairs into a super bright art space. Joey Molinaro played his grind violin stuff in one corner, moving around a lot towards the end. I think this was the weakest set I've seen him play. Something just felt off. I think the room was a little too big maybe. If nothing else, that's certainly an interesting shirt.

We returned to the basement for one of the touring bands, Divide and Dissolve. They have a cool band that's very weird. Divide and Dissolve combines elements of doom, punk, and free jazz. Just like Mercury Uncovered, there was an honesty to their band, created by the simplicity and bareness of weird song structures. It was extremely refreshing to see this in a lot of the bands at this show; stuff that is super polished can be a big turn off for me. I really like the guitarist's guitar tone (even if I hate the phrase guitar tone), because it sounded just like my guitar in Satyr/Elfheim. I've never really heard a guitar sound like that that was not mine. I always felt that people thought I had no idea what I was doing, but the guitar sounded great, which is why I play the way I do.

The next band was Eekum Seekum, also on tour. They played a nasty hardcore/grind kinda thing. It was excellent! I'm not a huge fan of those types of bands usually, but Eekum Seekum was really exciting. The vocals reminded me of Nü Sensae. The bass player and drummer were really top notch. I feel like the guitar was lacking a little bit; it should have had more punch. I got a very cool Eekum Seekum embroidered patch with a crystal ball on it after the show was done.

Big Girls played second to last. I did not really like their set. While it sounded somewhat like a K-Records riot grrl band, they seemed unprepared. Some songs seemed too jammy. I couldn't really get into the lyrics, but I did like how they used chants. I'd like to see them in the future to see what they sound like then.

Ocasia and I almost had to leave, but we were able to catch the last band, Tanning Machine. I've only seen them once before. At that show, which may be discussed at a later date, I was pleasantly surprised with their sound and stage presence, expecting it to be sort of phoned in. Tanning Machine plays a fast punk/no-wave that reaches the point of nearly crashing every other song. I'm all about that moment of near collapse in a live band, so it's super appealing to me.Tanning Machine threw Dum-Dums to the audience, which was goofy and fun. It was a great set.

I want to mention that the merch at this show was super cool. I do not remember the artist's name, but their prints and zines had a late 19th century witchcraft look to them, coloring in silver ink on black paper. I got a zine and the aforementioned Eekum Seekum patch. I did not know what to expect going in to this show, but it was a very fun night with mostly excellent musick. I hope more shows happen at the weird underground school venue, and I want to see more "fall-apart-y" post-punk type of stuff.