Sunday, August 22, 2010

Concert review: Triggers, Big Hurry, Pet Clinic

Triggers, Big Hurry, Pet Clinic
Friday August 13, 2010 at Howler's
with Bear, Sean, Paul, Lisa

My friends Bear and Sean were in town visiting during this weekend and I was able to treat them to a great local music show :-) I had actually sent Bear a video for Big Hurry's "Silver Screens" a few months ago but never heard whether he liked it or not. When he came into town I mentioned a rock show I wanted to see and when I said the words "Big Hurry" he became very excited. Sean drove into town early on Friday morning after basically driving through the night, so we let him nap in the afternoon and finally got out of my place around 6 pm to head to the Andy Warhol museum.

We caught the G2 bus to downtown and had a lovely stroll through the Cultural District and across the bridge to the museum, marveling at the skyline and PNC Park along the way. I had not been to the Warhol in quite some time and was glad to see lots of new stuff. Specifically, they have a Marcel Duchamp exhibit on now that was pretty neat, pairing some of his artwork in juxtaposition with Andy's for the sake of comparison. I didn't realize they were somewhat contemporary and were acquaintances. Of course, the urinal was the most famous part of the exhibit, but I liked some of the crazy film pieces, too (especially standing in a room with upwards of 12 screens all showing different short films). I think Sean enjoyed seeing the items related to The Velvet Underground, particularly the sheet music for a few songs on display by one of the elevators. Bear particularly liked the silver balloon room and made grand plans for having such a room in his future domiciles/offices. Meanwhile, all three of us enjoyed the fact that they had a happy hour bar on the ground floor where we had a couple beers and a gin & tonic (for me) and a "Warhol cosmopolitan" (for Sean) which was just a cosmo with blue curacao instead of triple sec so it had a vibrant purplish hue. As it turns out, we spent a bit too much time down at the bar chatting and staring at the giant portrait photo of Andy with really spiky hair, and we had to rush through the last couple of floors so we could catch a bus back to Bloomfield.

We left the museum a little after 8 and walked back to the Cultural District to catch the 86 bus down Liberty/Penn. I got a little turned around and wasn't sure which side of the street to stand on to get the bus in the right direction, especially given that the stop suggested by Google maps was on a street under construction, so we asked some nice gentlemen at the stop and they confirmed we were in the right place. After a few minutes, though, they left, but they later got on the same bus that we did a couple stops down the line. That confused me. Anyway, by this point we were starving and running out of time since apparently the show was starting at 9:30 and not 10:00 as I expected, so I suggested grabbing some quick slices of pizza. I had never been to Graziano's on Penn Ave. despite having stared at its glowing storefront from both the downstairs and upstairs windows of the Brillobox, so I took this opportunity to try it out. The pizza itself was quite good for what it was (quick and greasy) and really hit the spot. I just had a couple slices of cheese, but Bear had one of the thick-crust slices and also said it was solid. I'd certainly go back to try it again, especially after seeing their incredible selection of beer (lots of craft six packs to go).

We finally walked a couple blocks down Liberty to Howler's and relaxed outside for a minute after seeing that the music hadn't yet started. We went inside to find Lisa and Paul already there with a table, and handed our $5 apiece to Kelly, Big Hurry's singer, who was working the door. We started out with the cleverly-named Walt Wit beer on draft but moved on to PBR cans after learning that they were on special for the evening, 16 oz. cans for only $2. None of us really wanted to miss any of the show, so every once in a while one of our group would go to the bar in the other room and order a 6-pack and bring it back. By the end of the night, we had an impressive stack of cans on the table and they somehow were all positioned into a big pyramid in front of Sean.

The show itself was pretty crowded, and I like how the stage at Howler's is elevated so we could see just about everything onstage even though we were seated and the area in front of us had people standing. The first band was Pet Clinic, a local quartet with a grungy guitar vibe and a singer with high, nasal vocals that makes it all sound like Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr. and your favorite 60s garage rock band (say, The Seeds) thrown into a blender. Check out their MySpace page and listen to "Mister Yuck", particularly the accelerated drums and crescendo guitar solo starting around the 1:00 mark, and tell me you disagree. They were great live, a perfect beginning to the show with lots of rocking, noisy energy. I think the moment that sold Sean was when the guitarist's strap broke in the middle of a song and he just dropped to his knees and kept playing as if nothing had happened. He finished the set by sitting in one of the tall stool/chair thingies that an audience member gave up for him. A solid set overall; I'd like to see them again sometime. Another thing I noticed was that the guitarist/singer looked really familiar. I was pretty sure he was the drummer for Landline, another local grungy band I've seen play a few times as an opening act, and it turns out I was right, according to the names on their MySpace pages. But after an aha moment just now and some Googling, I've figured out that this guy is also the brother of the bassist in Meeting of Important People (!) and together the two of them make up the band Br'er Fox and I saw them open for Tapes 'n Tapes at the Club Cafe exactly 3 years ago when I first moved to Pittsburgh!!! What a crazy world.

Big Hurry went next and played all their hits, which is to say they played their songs and nailed it. I could listen to "Save Your Breath" all day, and they threw that in towards the end of their set, opting to play most of the "newer" Silver Screens EP songs first, plus some other songs that will likely appear on their forthcoming album. I'm excited for that album to come out, and I'm sure they'll play at least one "release party" show around town, so I'll be sure to keep my eyes and ears open for that. Their set at Howler's was great as usual, high energy and proficient, awesome rhythm section between Dani and Lenny, super-catchy melodic high-end guitar solos from Andy, and forcefully emotive vocals from Kelly. This is the kind of band that is greater than the sum of its parts, which are already great in their own right.

Triggers closed out the night. It's a name I've heard around town before but I didn't know anything about them before this show. I'll let their self-written bio describe their sound for me:

"If ELVIS COSTELLO shagged THE CARS and XTC and made a musical mutant child, that child would be TRIGGERS. If you hate HONEST, RIFF LADEN, HOOK INFUSED songs that hypnotize you with their MELODIES then, by all means, return to the pretentious moaning of some band of sods and do not listen to TRIGGERS."

And that's actually pretty accurate. "Power-pop" is a perfect descriptor for their song style and live show, with lots of high energy playing and bouncing around and singing. The keyboardist sometimes played keyboard with one hand and drum with the other, sometimes using a tambourine, and sometimes drumming with both hands. The drummer was all over the place, too, his flowing hair bouncing up and down in time with the music. It was quite a live spectacle, and I may have enjoyed watching the band members create the music more than I enjoyed the music itself, which is a strange phenomenon, but oh well.

Overall, this was a great collection of local bands and I'm glad I got to share some of the 'Burgh music scene with my out-of-town friends.

Pet Clinic
couldn't find anything ?!

Big Hurry
Interview with Draw Us Lines
Video of drum tracking
"Paper Trails" album version played over live footage

Two songs live at Mojo's (Jamestown, NY) on 10-13-2007
Acoustic version of "Yer Bones"
"Run Fast, Run Far" live at Rex Theatre on 03-14-2008
Fan video for "She had me at takeoff"
Album review in the City Paper

1 comment:

  1. Howlers has a blog that posts live audio recordings from shows, and they just posted a song by Pet Clinic from this show! Check it out here.