VIA 2013: KiNK

Train recordings, audiography lectures, and saxophone samples littered KiNK’s set this past Saturday at VIA, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I’ve certainly seen fewer live performances than most, but having spent a large chunk of my life performing classical music (and a much smaller chunk dabbling with DJing and production), I feel as though I have acquired an appreciation for technical ability. I was lucky enough to have a brief conversation with Strahil Velchev (more popularly known as “KiNK”) before his set, and he told me that he had picked up some records that morning. Despite not being entirely sure what they sounded like, he was excited to incorporate them into his performance.

About a half hour into his set, an intense whistle engulfed the crowd, and the thunderous sound of a train permeated the beat. The clatter of a wheels on tracks slowly presented itself as the kicks and hats of the previous segment faded out. For a few moments, the audience was alone with the repetitious thud of the train, waiting for the next mutation of the music to set in.

And then, all at once, the beat of the track came crashing back. The experience was surprising, and yet it fit so well with the set that it sounded entirely rehearsed. The sounds of the train were still very much present, but were seamlessly part of the groove of the set. You weren’t even listening to a train anymore, but to this thing that KiNK had created, seemingly from nothing, before my very eyes.

The energy of the set was contagious. It was clear that KiNK was having just as much fun creating music as we were enjoying it. The table he performed from was littered with tiny boxes and trinkets, all wired together in a convolution of wires and cables. Every now and then, he’d pick one of his toys, hold it up to the crowd, and play it in plain sight of everyone, teasing the audience with the different parts of his next segment of music.

The performance was certainly a high point of the evening, at least for me, and reminded me of why organizations like VIA and Detour are such a crucial part of the Pittsburgh music scene. Getting the chance to see a live set like that wouldn’t have been possible without the festival. Although VIA is finished for the year, I’m excited to see how the Pittsburgh sound changes as its culture grows. With the reception of sets like KiNK’s, I’d say that the future looks bright for Pittsburgh.

Post by Salem Hilal.