Posts Tagged ‘Mr. Small’s Pittsburgh’

British (Sea Power) Invasion

May 20, 2008

I had been waiting for weeks, I got my ticket at Paul’s CDs, and had resigned myself to a long and lonely walk to Mr. Small’s in Millvale, because my friends are lame, or play frisbee in these things called tournaments, or insert excuse.

They apparently do not like rock music.

But I do, so, braving the unseasonable chill (and rain) and the 40th street bridge, I trudged five miles or so out to the venue, only to be made to wait in the drizzle for another half hour, though the doors should have been open. A small crowd of scenesters spoke of things like Curiosa, Mogwai and their stratocasters. I smoked several cigarettes, and watched some errant green balloon float into the scattered clouds.

I hadn’t even remembered that there were three performers on the bill, and I groaned inwardly when I saw a dude with a sticker-crusted acoustic on the stage. Then I started enjoying him. Jeffrey Lewis is from the same anti-folk school as The Moldy Peaches, except he stayed after class and did extra credit. He was great, and managed to transcend the novelty quality most of that sound is mired in. I’d listen to this on any given day.

He supplemented his odes to artistic awkwardness with ‘films’. These were, as he explained, low budget. By low budget, he meant something like a Demetri Martin sketch. Fully illustrated, and with his voice as a soundtrack, Lewis spun out two of these in his brief set, and they were disarmingly innocent children’s stories for adults. I was grinning the whole time. One of his better songs was about not letting the record label take you out to lunch.

A friend had told me he had enjoyed his Sea Power experience to such an extent that not even Feist opening up could spoil it. I don’t know if I would’ve been as strong, but apparently, her ubiquitous ass is everywhere. The between-sets DJ played a remix of that damn ipod commerical. It was all I could do to not headbutt someone.

The Rosebuds
were up next, and though I had listened to “Birds Make Good Neighbors” at the behest of another pal, I didn’t get into it. But I was blown away by these guys, and I’m listening to the album right now. The set was smart, loud (much more so than the album), honest and dance-friendly American Rock. My usual complaints about the rust-belt not knowing how to dance were on the boil. But I had a spot at the bar, and was enjoying a tall, cold Yuengling and some quality music- Ivan Howard has a great set of croony pipes.

Plus, there weren’t really any girls to dance with. That would’ve required punching a guy with thick framed glasses and taking his place. But I didn’t feel the drive to involve myself in the inherent paradox of punching some dude who looks like me. Except is taller. And has hair. And is probably more charming, hence, has a skinny pretty girl that likes to talk about bands on his arm. I knew I shouldn’t have worn my glasses.

Some of the Rosebuds’ songs were reminiscent of late 60s rock, at times even some psych rock. It was mostly tight pop songs, played hella loud. This is music I’ll be looking to put on at the bar, sandwiched in between a Toadies song and a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club tune. They played a slower song or two, and segued into a bit of Phil Collins with one. I never thought I would hear “I can feel it in the air of the night” sung at a show.

Then some more waiting, until the intro to Do You Like Rock Music? came on. The more I read about Sea Power the more I love them. They called the album that because they figured it was something the Who would do.

They walk on stage, blessing Pittsburgh for supplying the world with Heinz baked beans, and fell into…a fairly sterile set? No, I’ve heard so much about their shows, I thought. I didn’t pay to see the bloody Wedding Present, as much as I like them. I paid to have my eyes kicked in with a massive concussion of Rock and Roll. I want people jumping about! Yan, foil helmets are not enough! I’m sorry the place is not to capacity!

Then they hit a stride when they played “Waving Flags” and proceeded to get fully into it, reaching climax when guitarist Noble jumped off stage and ran around playing. They joked and talked to the crowd (Yan was mimicking whatever was yowled into the microphone he put in a fan’s face for a bit, like a strange game of simon says) and they were having fun playing. So much fun in fact, that they had a ten-minute plus slab of noisy-freakout at the end, complete with one of the microphones making the rounds thanks to the spry Noble, which unfortunately displayed Pittsburgh’s lack of imagination (or at least quick thinking) with every “woo” fans delivered.

Folks were covering their ears for the bulk of the finale, and I don’t blame them. Someone had put a guitar against an amp, and the violinist was playing with the feedback like a dance partner. My ears were still ringing as I rolled up a promo flyer from the wall into my front pocket and tramped out into the night, only to walk five miles back to my house, err…local bar. Then home to examine my blisters and worry about how much I’m going to hurt the next day. And I do, a day later. I am sore as hell. But I’m sure I’ll be found at Mr. Small’s again in the near future (perchance for the Silver Mount Zion show in late June), and I’ll probably enjoy the walk, if necessary, as much as I did the first time.

But then, I like rock music.