Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Concert review: The Cynics, Meeting of Important People, Aviation Blondes

I've fallen way behind on show reviews. End of the semester and all that stuff. I'm trying to catch up.

The Cynics, Meeting of Important People, Aviation Blondes
Saturday April 10 2010 at Rex Theatre
with Lisa

This day started as a celebration of the new 75 bus route in the Burgh, which connects Shadyside to the South Side via Ellsworth Ave. It was the first day the route was running, so Rebecca and Lisa and I decided to meet on the bus and enjoy a sunny day on the South Side. When we arrived at the South Side Works, there were tons of people outside, milling about amongst a street full of tents and live music. It turned out to be a Chili Cookoff for local restaurants. We ended up spending a few hours around South Side works, stopping at a coffee shop, an artisanal craft fair, EMS, and Hofbrauhaus, and catching some fun live music from Jimbo & the Soupbones. Later on, we headed farther down Carson Street and stopped in Dave's Music Mine (for records), the Culture Shop (for incense), and the Beehive Coffeehouse (for vegetarian dinner and a drink; apparently after 10 is 21+? wahoo!). All in all, it was an awesome day; it reminded me of how much fun the South Side is, how great nice weather is to enjoy outside with friends, and how easy it is to spend money at the right stores (even for a vehement “non-shopper”).

I'd never been to a concert at the Rex before, only a standup show by Mike Birbiglia in the fall of 2008. I remember it being a large room, with a tiny upstairs viewing balcony, and it made the concert feel pretty empty, even though the front bar area was packed to the brim before the show. It was also an odd crowd for the usual indie rock shows I've been to: mostly older adults, 30s and 40s and above; I didn't see many others around our age. I did bump into a fellow CMU grad student I knew who explained how The Cynics have a huge following all over Europe, selling out big venues in Spain but, for some reason, never getting similar recognition here in the U.S. or even in Pittsburgh. All this meant for me was that I could hang out near the front of the stage comfortably with no one around and get a good view of the bands, and even attempted to take some live action photos/vids (embedded in this post).

Aviation Blondes played first, a local sextet with two female singers (one also played keyboards), two guitarists, a bass player and a drummer. They played generally upbeat and poppy rock songs, lots of melodic lines and synth, nothing too fancy or boundary-pushing but fun nonetheless. One of the female singers had some singing/dancing moves that I can really only describe as “slippery”.

I feel like it appealed far more to the older folks in the crowd. I liked one or two songs well enough, but a 7 or 8 song set from the first opener of 3 bands was way too long, thankyouverymuch.

Meeting of Important People played next, the band we were there to see. They are always so full of energy and excited to play their songs that I don't understand how anyone couldn't love it. They make a good amount of sound for a three-piece, and they can switch so quickly from mellow strumming and soft vocals to fast-riffing, leg-kicking rock 'n roll that it'll make your head spin and bop to the beat.

I've made reference before to their great songs and live show, so I won't say much here except that I will go to see them every chance I have. Also, Lisa and I chatted with the singer Josh after the show and he sympathized with our math nerdiness, saying that he does mathy business work for the Carnegie Museums, among other places.

The Cynics played last with what seemed to be a stripped-down version of their sound, but highly energetic nonetheless. The singer bounced between sitting in a metal chair at the front of the stage and dancing around while banging a tambourine. It was a solid modern version of a 60s garage rock sound, with rocking melodies, beat-driving but not overpowering drums, and enthusiastic singing/occasional yelping. It was a fun set, and I've listened to one of their albums that I got from the library a few times since the show, but unfortunately I was feeling tired and ducked out of the show early to grab a bus back home.

Overall, a fun show. I wish I'd had time to catch more of The Cynics.

Aviation Blondes
Fan video with live footage from this show
“Vehicle” (Ides of March cover) live at sound check at Rex, November 2009
Meaning and etymology of the term “aviation blonde”
Album reviews in the City Paper, Tribune, and Post-Gazette.

Some past show reviews of mine.

The Cynics
"I Got You Babe" (Sonny Bono cover)
Live performance at the 1990 Pittsburgh Music Awards!
"Lying All the Time" (The Outsiders cover)
"Blue Train Station"

Get Hip Recordings Company, founded by 2 members of The Cynics.

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