Paperhouse: On East Liberty Quarters

Last Saturday, a funk trio played in Pittsburgh.

For some reason, in the late ’80s, we cast off the funky sounds that the synthesizers of the era were beckoning to produce. Much like a lost balloon, it seems that the funk never left Earth’s orbit, but has instead been hanging out beyond the exosphere, drenching itself in alpha rays. Repeated exposure to these rays has resulted in the funk spiraling downward into the troposphere and, as a result, we’ve recently been hearing the heaviest of futuristic funks radiating from cities like Los Angeles and Pittsburgh.

Last night, members of WRCT’s experimental physics department made an excursion to lower Lawrenceville, where there seemed to be a radioactive disturbance. As they approached the Thunderbird Cafe, the readings on their Geiger counter were off the charts. It turns out the spikes in radioactivity were the result of an ELQ performance.

ELQ, formally known as East Liberty Quarters, a local future-funk group, has been creating quite a stir with its performances in Pittsburgh. The group has been revealing an intricate synthesizer-based funk that it has been composing in the studio, and it is impressing a good number of well-to-do Pittsburghers. The trio is comprised of Grand Ear, Nice Rec, and Buscrates 16 Bit Ensemble. On Friday, during their performance at the Thunderbird Cafe, they were accompanied on guitar by Zachary Curl of the Smooth Tutors.

The show was a blast. The funk radiated in a fashion kindred to that of Dâm-Funk, the self-proclaimed Los Angeles-based “Ambassador of Boogie Funk.” ELQ played a hypnotic array of songs that got a packed two-and-a-half-story bar grooving. Given last night’s performance, one can only expect that the power and exploration in their repertoire will be growing.