A+ A-

"High in the Mountain" Release Show

Last Friday, June 16th, I went down to Space for the closing party for the Non-Punk Pittsburgh show. I have more to say about this art show in the future, but basically, it was an exhibit of the post-punk scene of Pittsburgh in the late 1970's and early 1980's. June 16th was also the release date for Steve Sciulli's High in the Mountain album, a folk album from a member of the legendary Carsickness, one of my favorite (defunct) Pittsburgh bands. I felt kind of sick all day, though I did end up making it Downtown. I was in and out of the space for the whole show, feeling spacey and lost thanks to difficulties at work and a story from a new acquaintance about some terrible experiences they had, involving someone I used to know as the abuser. I wasn't sure if I would stay the whole night.

I was excited to see the first performer, Frank Secich. Secich was the guitarist for Stiv Bators solo band in the 1980's. He also played in the band Blue Ash and is currently in the Deadbeat Poets. Tonight, he was playing a solo acoustic set. I recognized "The Green Man" from the Deadbeat Poets and "Circumstantial Evidence" from his time with Stiv Bators. The songs were great, and he is a good guitar player. I wish there had been a band with him on electric guitar though. These songs deserved to rock!

Southside American played next. I was unfamiliar with this band. At first, the frontman sang alone with his guitar. Soon he was joined by another singer and later a whole band. The songs had a leftist slant and reminded me a bit of Springsteen, a rusty, small town feel. Each of the songs made sense with the instruments that it was played on. I enjoyed the whole thing.

The locally famous Slim Forsythe was third. I had never seen him play before, but I often see his name outside Nied's Hotel. He does a bunch of outdoor concerts there every summer. Right before the show, I listened to some of his new album on Get Hip, and he is just like the recording! He told tales of Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, and the origins of his songs. He is a very traditional country singer and does a great job looking the part! I love hearing the history of things; here we were, gathered around the fire under the stars of the great American Southwest on the rural Pennsylvania backroads. I love it!

Zack Keim, from the Nox Boys, played next. The songs he played were a mixed bag; there were good songs, the "don't leave me" kinda love songs, and the ones that were too much like Bob Dylan. The good ones worked with his youthful demeanor. Some were kind of cheesy with the aforementioned love thing, but it was okay. The bad ones seemed forced into a Dylan-esque mold. I know this is folk musick, but I want to hear what Keim has to say, not what Dylan said 50 years ago. Later in the set, there were some technical problems with Keim's guitar cable, unfortunately during some cool songs. I like Nox Boys, and I think Zack could have some cool solo material too, but I want to hear more Zack Keim and less Bob Dylan.

I really didn't like this next band, Some Kind of Animal. After getting excited by the sight of drums and bass and electric guitar, I was dissappointed when they began to play. It was the indie kind of soft-rock, something like Snow Patrol or Fun. I was getting tired, and I couldn't get into it at all. I went for a short walk.

When I came back, Slim Forsythe and Steve Sciulli were getting set up. Forsythe told some stories about seeing Carsickness and how he was scared of Steve Sciulli's weird sytnh parts. He said he would stare at Carsickness back when he was at school and wonder what they were doing. Sciulli interjected at times with wry, sardonic commentary. It was a great intro to his set.

Sciulli started to play some droney folk/prog/psych songs on a resonator slide guitar. It sounded great, and I got lost in the waves of drones. My tiredness mixed with the warbling sounds; I forgot where I was for a second. Eventually, Sciulli was joined by the other members of his band, Standing Wave, and they played some great songs in the same vein. Towards the end, he got up and put a thin sheet over his head. It was weird and fantastic and awesome. Standing Wave really impressed me!

In conclusion, I did end up staying the whole night, and it was worth it. Everything wasn't great, and I do prefer things with drums and bands, but this was a fun show. Steve Sciulli and Slim Forsythe had great sets. It was good to see new bands, even if I didn't like all of them. I was going to talk to Frank Secich before I left, but I didn't see him. I'm sure I will be able to meet him sometime in the future. Despite my negative review, I will probably go to Zack Keim's album release show this weekend, and I hope to see Standing Wave again soon.