Prepare to have your mind blown, over and over and over, in a continuous cycle, four days in a row. This is my advice to you VIA noobs. If you take away nothing else from this guide, take that. That’s all you really need to know. Screw the musicians, screw the visual artists, screw the activities. Screw it all, because chances are, you aren’t gonna know what the hell you’re watching when you’re there. And if you like it enough, you’ll ask the person next to you what the hell it is that you’re experiencing. Leave the drugs at home, kiddos. This here’s VIA, and it’s the most forward-thinking, entertaining, mind-expanding event to hit Pgh since the arrival of hallucinogenics. Many of you have asked me about the must-sees of the festival. If you didn’t purchase an all access pass and only plan on going to a few, rather than all of the haps, you might have asked me about the best nights to hit up. Since I’m going to soak in every possible VIA moment, I didn’t really think about it all that much. Until now. Now, my friends, I present to you: VIA For Dummies, a digestible guide, free from pretentiousness, fluff and fancy presentation. These are our recommendations for the parts of the festival that are most accessible to the average attendee, the curious individual who wouldn’t know otherwise what in the world VIA is, let alone how to pronounce it (hehe), let alone attend. Jump on that VIA bandwagon and get ready for a magical ride.
Night One | October 5 | Brillobox
Pure Hype a/v
Trans Am / Thunder Horse Video
Brenmar / Thunder Horse Video
So. You might find yourself asking, gee, what should I go to? There are so many events my head is about to explode. And yeah, four days in a row of events is a lot for the average person. So why should you pick this night over another? Trans Am is a band, first off. So if you’re afraid of music with no vocals, you may want to come this night, because a lot of the music at VIA does not contain vocals. Trans Am has been around for about 20 years and were part of the post-rock movement of the mid-nineties. Their influences include Krautrock, heavy metal, hardcore punk, synthpop, electronic music, and folk music. They will be performing their legendary album Futureworld, which was their fourth release and their first to contain vocals. All of their music until that point had been strictly instrumental. They’ve opened for Tool. If you like music that sounds like it belongs on the Tron soundtrack or in your favorite video game, night one is for you.
Local a/v darlings Pure Hype and Brenmar round out the bill. Brenmar is a Chicago-based deejay and producer. If you like to dance, you’ll like him. Heavy hip-hop, house and R&B influences. I’m really digging this video and song:
Night Two | October 6 | The Rex
Walls / Matt Wellins
FaltyDL / Splaf7
Wolf Eyes / Daniel Iglesia
Four Tet / Abstract Birds
This is where it starts to get a bit weird. If you’re still sportin’ your VIA training wheels, you may want to stick to night one. One of the most anticipated evenings of the festival for many, night two contains a stellar lineup. It’s a close tie between Four Tet and Battles as to who will get the crowd in a tizzy, but I’m sure those in attendance will be pleasantly surprised by the night’s other offerings.
If you love minimal techno, this night’s for you. Don’t know what minimal techno is? If that’s the case, you’ll probably hate this night, go home whining about how much you spent on a ticket, and become a skeptic. So don’t do that. And don’t come expecting some crazy furry booted dance party with glow sticks and hula hoops. This night is for the more experienced ear. If you enjoy subtleties, understated music and songs that stretch for miles, you will love night two. I know I’m gonna love night two. Night two is for the mellow partier, the guy at Belvedere’s on the couch instead of on the dancefloor, one who likes to listen to music that takes them to another time and place. There are different ways one can be in the moment, and this night is a great example of how intensely you can be in a moment without moving your body at all.
If you love Four Tet, you’ll love Walls, who are indeed a band that has remixed the likes of The Field and Pantha Du Prince. If you don’t know who any of those people are, that’s a bad sign. FaltyDL has remixed The XX, but that doesn’t mean you will like it. His beats are rather minimal as well, but a bit more hip-hop influenced. Squarepusher has been cited as an influence on his earlier releases. Wolf Eyes, hm. They’re experimental. Noise that’s got heavy industrial and hardcore influences. For some, this may be a good time to take a potty break. We’ll see.
And of course, there’s Battles. They gained a lot of recognition in 2011 but have been around the block for a while now. They’re a band with vocals (phew) so they’ll certainly be the most accessible part of the evening for most. According to Pitchfork, “Battles are possibly the tightest man-machine unit going now that LCD Soundsystem are dead.” If you like poppy indie electro bands, you’ll like Battles. Check out this vid, which is one of 2011’s most praised in the indyverse:
Stay tuned for part two of VIA For Dummies this Monday. We certainly hope this helps clue you in as to what you’ll enjoy the most at VIA 2011. Until next time!