Review | VIA Presents: Pictureplane, Teengirl Fantasy, Gatekeeper, Majeure, Cutups, Casey Hallas
If you weren’t at VIA‘s latest event this past Tuesday, you missed out! This goes without saying, of course, as the Facebooks were buzzing with hangover-tinged excitement about how great the night was. We showed up fashionably late, as usual. Apologies to Majeure who I really wanted to catch, but didn’t. Instead, we entered at a very climactic point in the evening. The room was completely dark and filled with fog except for spurts of almost blinding strobe lights accompanied by a single laser that hung over the crowd like a precise ghost. The music that accompanied this intense scene was that of Gatekeeper, who created a fitting environment to accompany the witch-house and at times very industrial sounding tunes that were produced. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it, but it was eerily appealing. A guilty pleasure perhaps. It evoked curiosity and horror and was the perfect way to turn the tides from the familiar sounds of locals Cutups and Majeure to a more far-off realm. This was not music you hear in Pittsburgh every day, which was half the appeal.
The other half, however, came from Gatekeeper’s raw talent. A true electronic auteur, Gatekeeper knew exactly how to create a sensory experience for the crowd. I can’t think of a more fitting venue in Pittsburgh than Belvedere’s however, which I sometimes don’t get excited about because I’ve been there so many times. It didn’t feel like we were in Belvedere’s that night. Instead, I felt as though I was locked in the room of an abandoned house in Highland Park with 100 of my music-loving acquaintances on Halloween night. At times I found the strobes to be a bit overbearing, but it wasn’t anything my sunglasses couldn’t handle, and no one else really seemed to mind. Rather than rambling on for the next few paragraphs about how spooky of a performance it was, why don’t you just see for yourself? The folks at VIA already have a video out:
I remember someone saying “Jesus Christ” after only one song. I wanted to go home and watch Kill Bill afterwards. Instead, we stayed for the remaining two acts, who were in my opinion, equally as impressive. The night seemed to flow smoothly between sets, as Cutups did a great job of maintaining the mood from set to set. Casey Hallas’ visuals weren’t too intense, and instead provided instruction to the crowd while they waited for the next act to begin. I remember seeing “Carry on” projected on the screen to the crowd’s right. Carry on we did, but into a different frame of mind. Teengirl Fantasy, who is known for sampling songs that bear no resemblance to the original, got the crowd moving entirely too much for a Tuesday. Their beat-infused dreamy jams were a perfect follow up to Gatekeeper. The hazy beats reached a peak while they played their most recognizable track, Cheaters, which sounded incredible on the much talked about 4-corner surround sound system hauled in for the show. Extra lol points to this discovery I made after doing the show teaser. As if their myspace weren’t deliberately tacky enough, their website is even more hilarious, and speaks to the nostalgic quality of their music. And hell yes, I had a website just like it about 10 years ago when I was exploring the wonders of early HTML, sparkly background and all. Love it.
Closing out the night was Pictureplane, who I’ve decided to give another chance after writing him off while I did my research for the show. I found the music to be a little off-par with traditional VIA bookings and at times a bit cheesy. Live, however, Pictureplane takes an assertive and ballsy approach to performing. The trancey, synth-infused music was accompanied by what I would like to refer to as backup dancers, but that doesn’t quite describe their role. First of all, they were in the forefront. They were complimentary dancers in the sense that they complimented the music nicely. Their movements were slow and calculated. They were adorned in “Class of ’98” jerseys in addition to a hell of a lot of spandex. I didn’t quite get it, but after many beers, I just stood there like a kitten whose ball of catnip was just out of reach. The jams were the most danceable of the evening, and made me wish even more that it wasn’t Tuesday so that my friends who ducked out early to catch some extra ZZs would have stuck around. Ya’wl missed out.
This package was definitely for those who are more forward-thinking with their tastes and who posses an ear for emergent music. It was something new for Pittsburgh, and we certainly need that. So thanks, VIA, for curating consistently entertaining events that keep people on their toes both literally and figuratively. We’ll be eagerly anticipating what you have in store for us in October. Advance tickets can be purchased here.