The Budos Band at The Rex Theater, Nov. 8, 2014

Touring in support of their newest record, Burnt Offering, The Budos Band brought their own brand of distortion-laden Afro-soul to a packed Rex Theater on Saturday. The evening was to be a loud, boozy experience, melding stoned-out rock and roll with a bold brass element, and tying it all together with rhythmic bongos and psychedelic keys.

Opener Electric Citizen brought enormous energy to the beginning of the evening, delivering loud rock with a retro feel. Organ-driven melodies swirled around fuzzed-out guitar lines as singer Laura Dolan, shaking and dancing, busted out some impressive vocals. Members of The Budos Band were spotted rowdily singing along, appearing to be especially enthused audience members from their spot directly in front of the stage.

The members of The Budos Band filed onstage soon afterward, taking their places behind an array of instruments. They announced they were there for partying and mayhem, and launched into several songs from their newest album as well as a good helping of older material. It was clear that the band members were enjoying themselves, toasting stage-front audience members (and in at least one case, handing over a beer), encouraging the audience to make noise, and moving around the crowded stage to jam together. Or, in the case of the keyboardist, lugging a keyboard from its stand to the front of the stage in not one but two rockstar moments. The energy in the room was infectious, turning the front of the room into a constant flurry of motion as audience members danced along.

The band returned for an encore following their set proper, prompted by an expletive-riddled audience chant led by one of the band members. A cover of “Immigrant Song” caused the audience to lose its collective mind, and a teaser for “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by The Supremes acted as a surprising interlude. At the end of the encore, most of the band left the stage, knocking over a good amount of equipment, leaving their guitarist and bassist onstage to play them out in an evil-sounding wash of feedback. When they decided that they had made enough noise, they left the stage as well, the house lights coming up to reveal a mess of equipment and a thoroughly satisfied audience.

Post and photos by Gesina Phillips.

Interview: Minus the Bear

Gesina sat down with Minus the Bear’s vocalist Jake Snider before their sold-out show at Club Café with O’Brother back in October. Read the interview below for more about the band’s new record of B-sides and outtakes, Lost Loves, as well as some reissues, the current tour, and vinyl nerdiness.

Gesina: I know you’ve played Pittsburgh before, is there a particular reason you started the tour here?

Jake: I think the main reason we wanted to start the tour here is it’s always a good town to play. We needed to start on the East Coast and it just kind of made sense routing-wise. It was all very, very rationally done, you know? But yeah, it’s an essential stop for us, we’ve always loved playing Mr. Smalls or the various other stranger clubs we’ve played around Pittsburgh, like tonight.

G: So you’ve never played Club Café before?

J: Never been to Club Café before.

G: Are you playing smaller, more intimate venues on this tour?

J: Yeah, very much so. That’s kind of the whole vibe of the tour. It’s a shorter tour than we usually do, smaller venues, kind of geared more toward the fans who have been with us a long time. We’re playing our second EP, They Make Beer Commercials Like This, in its entirety. And so like that gets to the hardcore dudes, and ladies. But it’s mainly because we don’t have a full new release out right now, we just have the reissue of the Beer Commercials EP as well as our new record, Lost Loves, but that’s even B-side stuff.

G: I heard you’ve played some of the Lost Loves stuff live before?

J: Yeah.

G: The majority of it?

J: No. We’ve played, maybe, three of the songs off of it in the past.

G: Is there going to be some older stuff in the set?

J: Yeah, I mean, fairly career-spanning, I’d say. The best part about putting this set together for this tour was that we knew we had seven songs that we had to play from the Beer Commercials EP. The point is to play that in its entirety, so seven songs eats up a huge chunk of the choices that we have for the rest of the set, so there’s maybe eleven songs left, and we’re doing a couple from the Lost Loves record and then it’s just a mix after that.

G: Something for everybody.

J: Hope so.

G: You were looking at like seven years of material for Lost Loves is that right?

J: Yes, about six or seven years.

G: I’d imagine logistically that was a lot, but did you think it was a reflective process to go over so much time at once?

J: Yeah, it was a fun record to put together. With a record like that, where you’re putting out songs that didn’t quite make it to the past three records, you can go chronology, like “the first three songs are from the oldest” or whatever, but we just decided to sequence it as if it were a new record and I really think that helped and worked out. It was cool to hear the final product. It sounds like a record, so we’re stoked.

G: Was there a lot of material that didn’t make the cut?

J: You know what, there’s maybe three songs that are unreleased that we even have that have come to the point of even being called a song.

G: You’re reissuing Beer Commercials and Planet of Ice—are you vinyl guys?

J: I am an absolute vinyl guy. I rarely listen to anything when I’m home other than vinyl. I’m a nerd when it comes to vinyl. I’ve got six or seven record players, I spend way too much money on that stuff, so, yeah, big nerd.

G: Last question before I let you go: you guys have had a really cohesive lineup for a really long time, with only one change—are you guys excited to hit the road all together again? I know you tour a lot.

J: Yeah, we definitely are. Our new keyboard player has been in the band for eight years [laughs], so he’s been around for a long time. On this tour, Erin, our drummer, is sitting it out, he’s having some medical issues, so our drum tech Kiefer has stepped up and is hitting the drums for this tour.

VIA Festival 2014

Just over a month ago, Pittsburgh was home to its 5th annual VIA showcase. VIA is a music and arts festival which began in Pittsburgh in 2010 and has since spread to Chicago as well. The majority of the events held are live performances by a plethora of underground music artists, but also include visual craft, experiential artistry, and workshops. Near its inception, VIA mostly promoted electronic artists, but has been taking strides towards diversifying its lineup; the most notable variations this year being indie rock band Real Estate, the hardcore punk workings of Code Orange, and black metal bands Liturgy and Deafheaven.

The main showcases began on Friday, October 3rd at the recently refurbished Hot Mass. Pittsburgh’s very own DJ collective and record label Detour collaborated with VIA to put on one stomping all-nighter. Featuring an impressive index of performers, VIA and Detour doused Pittsburgh’s cultural scene with a shower of deep techno and acid house. (The exposition even came complete with a live web stream to add a little Boiler Room flavor.) Certainly one of the most noteworthy acts of the night however, was TIN MAN’s set. Hailing from Vienna by way of California, Johannes Auvinen has been releasing dance records and mixing tracks since the mid-2000s. For this years VIA however, he opted out of the usual DJ layouts: CDJs, Laptop running Traktor, turntables and a mixer, etc; and instead set up several drum machines and a 303 bass synthesizer to create his tracks live as his set progressed. What resulted was an hour+ array of violent, primal techno that sequenced in much the same way as a continuous stream of consciousness; ever present and constantly evolving. Low ends rolled under pounding bass drums and splintering snares. The presence of subtle melodies from the 303 synthesizer added a cold mechanical touch to clash with the arrangements animalistic tendency. All in all, Fridays assembly produced a hearty night of body-jacking good times, a healthy start to a jam-packed weekend.

With Detour’s Friday presentation being the niche display of house and techno that it was, Saturday’s showcase answered with a rich selection of diverse electronic artists. Running through the roster, there was: the psychedelic soloist Troxum, chiptune artist Diode Milliampere, ‘punk-rocker turned alternative-rapper’ Cities Aviv, Canadian synth-pop duo Blue Hawaii, LGBT hip-hop artists Cakes Da Killa and Zebra Katz, and a back to back performance by Night Slugs co-founder L-Vis 1990 and Geto DJz co-founder Traxman. The music was outstanding with radical optics fabricated by numerous visual artists, one specific to each audio set. The event was held in the basement of Pittsburgh’s Union Trust Building, a grand structure with a bright ascending main hall. Underground however, the setting changed drastically upon entering VIA’s allocated space. Large structural columns ran throughout the expansive room, rising from the slab-like cement floor, which gave the area that classic isolated, hemi-industrial feel, not unlike VIA’s last venue in 2013.

Two of the most memorable acts of the night were those of Zebra Katz, along with L-Vis 1990 and Traxman’s duo set. As is common with performances within the LGBT rap scene, Zebra brought an appreciable amount of energy and showmanship to the stage. His music bears a sort of contained sexuality, locked behind his placid emphatic expression. On stage this carnality is present in his movements and actions, from pouring champagne into spectator’s mouths to climbing and hanging from the scaffolding. Following his spirited performance, came a thumping spread of eclectic bass music; L-Vis 1990 and Traxman certainly put on a good show together. Mixing one track after another, the two progressed through a wide variety of genres, ranging from club to UK to juke and trap, but always in possession of a quintessential kineticism.

Here’s to looking forward to VIA 2015.

Post by Joe Reilly.

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