2015 VIA Festival Preview
Six years ago, VIA began as a large-scale event in the Strip District’s 31st Street Studios. It has since migrated to various pop-up locations around the city, including East Liberty’s Broad Street and PNC Bank spaces, as well as the Union Trust Building downtown. Though its venue of choice might be in an annual state of flux, one constant remains: the element of discovery.
Established as a boundary-pushing marathon of interwoven events, VIA’s beginnings weren’t so humble. Organizers Lauren Goshinski and Quinn Leonowicz have always dreamed big, almost to the point of obscurity, but their vision has carried Pittsburgh into a new direction, one with its sights set on the future.
Now, in 2015, VIA finds itself on the brink of another festival and has further solidified its place as Pittsburgh’s premier event for innovators, creators and experimenters. They have done a stand up job curating this year’s itinerary, and both veteran attendees and newcomers alike are in for an experience unlike any other offered in this renaissance city.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of this year’s lineup is the healthy ratio of men to women; almost 50/50 in this stage of a string of announcements that is not quite finished, but complete enough to entice curious ticket-buyers to take the plunge and start cherry-picking their schedules or going all in. Either way, one can’t go wrong this year. A mix of locals, buzzworthy national acts and established artists round out the 2015 season, and we’re here to give you a taste of what to expect from VIA #6.
Year of the Woman
Remember this eye-opening article in which someone decided to photoshop all the women out of festival lineups for 2015? VIA need not worry about the gauntlet in this case, as it’s managed to book an incredible lineup of female talent, pairing veteran emcee MC Lyte with 2014 Polaris Music Prize shortlister Jessy Lanza, whose debut album was co-produced by Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys. Electronic experimenters Princess Nokia, Ikonika and Volvox are the perfect complement to the catchy punk flavors of the buzzworthy Philly-based Sheer Mag, fronted by the effervescent Christina Halladay, who puts on a live show that varies based on the environment and mood she happens to be in that day. These powerful women will carry the torch in 2015 alongside some capable locals.
Locals on the Rise
The female-rich programming found among this year’s participants carries on to the local acts that landed themselves a spot on the 2015 bill. Discwoman, a platform that showcases and represents the top notch female talent in the industry, is featuring Pittsburgh ex-pat Kate Boss during its event. Low-fi rockers Salome appear at the tcrps showcase at Brillobox, and the ethereal duo Slowdanger are one of many DME artists playing this year’s festival in addition to the locals-only opening party, A DME Thing featuring MISC Records.
The youth-friendly organization Girls Rock! Pittsburgh, a program that pairs local musicians with school-aged females to empower them, will be at Saturday’s Block Party, as well as food from the highly regarded vegan Pierogi Night, who goes head-to-head with the incredible pizza from Spirit’s Slice Island. Bike PGH will also be on site to provide bike racks to attendees, haircuts from Graham’s Barber Shop will be available, and Urbanist will feature a garden with food and fashion from local female entrepreneurs.
Late Nights & Secret Shows
Hot Mass will be home to two parties during the second weekend of the 10-day festival. Detour returns after last year’s showcase, a festival highlight, for their record release and a powerhouse techno lineup which includes the likes of Chicago’s Olin and NYC’s Patricia. Honcho’s showcase after the main event on Saturday the 3rd and a Sunday Planet Mu x Hoko Records show in a secret location round out the other attractions for what’s sure to be a memorable year full of art, music and fun. We can’t possibly cover everything, so make sure to peep the lectures and other art programming that these folks do an excellent job curating each year.
VIA happens September 24 – October 3. Many events will be held at Lawrenceville’s newest buzz bar, Spirit. A limited number of All Access passes will be available for $100. Individual tickets and the full lineup of events can be found on their website. Remember, smaller capacities for venues this year = less tickets available = you should probably buy your tickets today.
In addition, we’re giving away two sets of tickets for two parties happening throughout the week–the VIA block party and Pierogie Fest on September 26, plus the main event/closing showcase on October 3, which are both happening at Spirit. You can enter for a chance to win a pair of tickets for both events below: