Category Archives: Reviews

Thrival Festival 2016!


Thrival Festival just continues to get better and better every year. This year we were introduced to a new venue, the Carrie Furnaces. The festival also brought it’s largest lineup yet. I’ve saved you guys the trouble of reading all the other articles and posts out there, I’ll tell you the gist.


Friday wasn’t the best, and there’s a lot of feedback on social media to verify that. There were long lines galore; for drinks, for wristbands to GET drinks; and some heavy confusion around drink tokens. Oh, and then they ran out of water. BUT ALAS, no fear, they fixed everything all up for Saturday which was amazing! It’s not very often that an event like this fixes up main complaints in time for the following year, let alone Day Two!




The music has great feedback from Friday (shout-out to Lettuce!!!) EXCEPT for one MAJOR setback. Hmm…let’s see, we have Daya performing and we have The Chainsmokers performing. Daya and Chainsmokers have the hit song “Don’t Let Me Down” and yet they definitely let everyone down by not performing that song together! Whyyyyy? Blasphemy! I seriously don’t get it, can someone explain this to me? There was a chance for some legendary shit right there. *big sigh*

But, here’s a video of them performing their brand new song, “All We Know” featuring Phoebe Ryan:

Anyway, according to festival goers, Saturday ran much smoother and they nixed whatever the hell those drink tokens were about (Thank goodness because no one has time for that when they’re going to have a good time and listen to music!)

I did not make the Music Festival for Day One. But, my main passion was Thievery Corporation who was headlining on Day Two. You know how in your car, if you have Sirius, you can set “alerts” to let you know when certain artists or songs come on, and you can set it to auto-tune to that station. Well, Thievery Corporation is one of the groups on my “alerts” list….and lemme tell you, that alerts list has maybe 3 artists on it. So, that’s how excited I was, if that puts it into perspective for you.

I would have never known the fiasco of Day One had I not read about it, because Day Two was a dream. The weather was perfect; anyone from Pittsburgh knows that’s a huge accomplishment to have good weather for an exciting event. The crowds weren’t as big as Day One, which I attribute to the Chainsmokers crowd, but I welcomed the much more relaxed flow. Especially since only a week before, I was in California for the Kaaboo Music Festival (which The Chainsmokers also performed at) and it was way oversold and overcrowded. So much so that we were forced to leave the event early. Womp Womp.

I also did not deal with any of the parking or shuttle woes thanks to Uber. Though I very much like that a shuttle service was available. So, Uber dropped us off at a designated drop-off area and we marched on down to the entrance. The entrance brought on a teensy bit of confusion, since there were different locations for general admission, will call and VIP, but nothing major. I just have a really bad sense of direction. Once inside, we were thirsty (duh) and while I’m happy with almost anything, my friend was bummed about no liquor, unless you were VIP. BUT, it was still a step up from last year because this year there was wine. Maybe next year everyone can have access to liquor, who knows. Oh, but there were, however, two Skyy Vodka gals there though giving out free shots of a watermelon vodka of some sort, so we took advantage of that (again, duh).

I love that this festival has two stages with only one band playing at a time. This way, there’s no conflicts of interest and you can hear the band playing from anywhere on the festival grounds. And there’s no long waits in between the bands because the next one is already setting up on the other stage. Ty Dolla $ign was supposed to perform, but sadly had to cancel due to a death in his immediate family. But, there was lots to check out besides the music. There were vendors set up selling different items including clothing and coveted flower crowns. Rivers of Steel Arts created live iron pours. The Wheel Mill Stunt BMX team put on a show. There was even a tent with a virtual reality simulator to check out.

Metric put on a fantastic set and wowed us with some of their best songs. Here’s a video of “Breathing Underwater” from Shawn Glass on YouTube:


When it was getting to be that time (Thievery Corporation), the place was noticeably and expectedly even more crowded. I can’t even express how excited I was to see this group that’s been together for over 20 years and yet this was their very first time performing here in Pittsburgh! Their set exceeded mostly everyone’s wildest expectations and hopefully it doesn’t take them that long to come back! They were the most perfect close-out for a sensational Thrival Festival.

After their set, everyone wafted around seemingly walking on clouds. And then suddenly…something more happened. Over yonder, music started playing. The strange but cool artsy thing that everyone had been looking at all weekend sprung to life. It was the Squonk Opera! And what…pray tell, is that?

Squonk Opera is a group of interdisciplinary performing artists from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Led by artistic directors Jackie Dempsey and Steve O’Hearn, Squonk Opera’s shows consist of music, visual art, and acting elements in an attempt to make a form of opera accessible to all people. The group “like to think of ourselves as a wacky, provincial opera company,” says Dempsey, who named the group “Squonk” after a description of a jazz saxophonist’s playing as a “squonk-fest”, rather than the legendary creature of the same name. — From Wikipedia

Check out this little tidbit video of Squonk Opera performing from their Pneumatica show:

I’m so glad that Pittsburgh keeps moving up that cultural ladder and bringing more and more awesomeness, especially in the music department. There’s always going to be little hiccups but this festival was overall a huge success and I can’t wait to see what next year brings!

(P.S. I’m sure I’ll think of more suggestions, but I’d love to see Lotus come perform next year! — Here’s a video of them performing “Anti-Gravity” at the Summerdance Festival in Ohio this year!)



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Live Show Review: Caught a Ghost

Caught a Ghost

Here’s some education on the band Caught a Ghost —

Jesse Nolan describes the name of his band ‘Caught A Ghost’ as referring to the sensation of being filled with the spirit of the past. “It’s an old expression,” he says, “musicians used to say you caught a ghost if you gave a good performance. Like you were possessed.”

As the songwriter, producer and lead singer of the band, Nolan is a devotee of music from bygone eras. But he eagerly expounds upon his affection for vintage soul, delta blues, and 90s rap alike. As Nolan explains, “It’s definitely like being possessed. It’s an obsession. What’s not to be obsessed about? I don’t think it makes me unique, it makes me human.”

What does make Nolan unique is his musical dexterity (he plays all of the instruments on his recordings except horns and some of the drums) combined with the effortlessness with which he seems to pull from many different genres. His music recalls influences from the soul and rock n’ roll traditions (Stax, Motown, Sam Cooke, the Rolling Stones) yet still feel distinctly modern with references to hip-hop and electronic recordings from the 90s to contemporary tracks.

Anyone who has seen Caught a Ghost play live can testify to that notion that in addition to playing high energy shows with as many as nine musicians and various dancers onstage, the group often makes use of projections and performance art as a means of shaking people out of their comfort zones.

When I went to see these guys jam out earlier this month, it turned out to be one of my favorite shows. The energy and the NEED to dance is immense. I liked that the show was a little bit more intimate, too. The venue is a big one, but the show that night was off in a corner of the building by the bar. If you are into Fitz and the Tantrums, I think you’ll highly benefit from checking out Caught a Ghost. If they’re playing in your city, definitely go see them live.

Here’s 2 audio recordings from the show. The quality is bad, this is know; and you have to turn it up to be able to really get into their jam sessions. But, I couldn’t help it! I had to share them with you because the energy was awesome. I never said I was an audio recording expert.

The band’s album Human Nature is out now.

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Download: Caveman vs Al Green – “In the City” (Chrome Canyon remash)


Listen/download: Caveman vs Al Green – In the City (Chrome Canyon remash)

Caveman live:
# w/ Ra Ra Riot

Tue 9/17 – Marfa, TX @ Padre’s #
Thu 9/19 – Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s #
Fri 9/20 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s East # (tickets)
Sun 9/22 – Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon # (tickets)
Fri 9/27 – Cincinnati, OH @ Midpoint Music Festival
Sat 9/28 – Champaign, IL @ Pygmalion Music Festival (tickets)
Sun 9/29 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/In #
Wed 10/9 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5 # (tickets)
Thu 10/10 – Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts #
Fri 10/11 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club # (tickets)
Sun 10/13 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues # (tickets)

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Show: Fitz and the Tantrums


I came really super close to not being able to make it to this sold out show here in Pittsburgh this past Monday. And oh, let me just say, I would have thrown some MAJOR fits and tantrums if I had missed this!

But, my friends over at BB Gun Press totally saved the day and helped this girl out. And I couldn’t have been any happier. If you keep up with my ramblings, you’d know that I couldn’t WAIT to see Fitz and the Tantrums perform “The Walker” live. At one point, I really thought they weren’t going to play it, either! They waited until the very end, and performed it for one of their encores! Which, surprised me because I thought I’d hear “The Walker” earlier and they would save “Out Of My League” for an encore. BUT, they played it earlier, and “Moneygrabber” was the second song in their set. Oh, and they did a pretty awesome cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams,” too.

I really wanted to upload the video of “The Walker”…BUT:

  •  It sort of got screwed up and ended up being split into two videos.
  • My phone isn’t letting me upload it.
  • Anddddd you can hear me screaming like a maniac that just got let out of a mental institution.

So, here’s a few pics instead.


Also, I don’t wanna forget to shout out to the opening bands of the evening, too. Ivy Levan was beautiful and wonderful!

Here’s a pic from her Twitter:

IvyAnd here’s a video incase you need introduced:

And also a shout to Saints of Valory, who were also quite awesome…and nice guys. I’m not finding any official videos to post, but if you want to check out their new EP Possibilities that just came out yesterday, you can check it out here. I like “Long Time Coming.”

Listen: Saints of Valory – Possibilities EP

Check out this pic from their Facebook page where they’re representin’ the Burgh and our beautiful bridges!




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Passion Pit and Youngblood Hawke

Two nights ago, a group of us went to see Passion Pit. I was excited to see them, and one of the opening acts, Youngblood Hawke (which I interviewed back in August and you can check it out here). Youngblood Hawke’s set was really fun and upbeat. A friend of mine didn’t know who they were, but said she really liked them. They played all of the songs from their EP. The crowd was really pleased with “We Come Running” when they ended their show with the recent alt rock hit. They were a great predecessor to Passion Pit.

When Passion Pit came out, everyone went crazy. Their first song was “Take a Walk” and it was awesome! I was surprised because it’s not very often that a band starts out with one of their biggest hits, but they did, and I liked it. They mixed between songs from Manners and their newest album Gossamer. It seemed to me that everyone really digs Manners more. Things were a little slowed down when songs from Gossamer were performed. Then, at the very end everyone perked right up when they finished their set with “Sleepyhead”. I couldn’t WAIT to hear it and apparently everyone else felt the same. It was also super cool that all the other band members that were touring with them all came out on stage to dance around. One of them was taking video of the whole thing, catching glimpses of the audience and the other musicians jammin’ out. My favorite parts of their performance were the first and last songs. They had a great turn out for their first show in Pittsburgh. Make sure you check out the awesome video at the top of this post that someone took of the finale. It gives me chills of happiness when I watch it and remember that feeling of being there.


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LIVE: Cut Copy

Months ago when I saw in an email that Cut Copy was coming, I immediately made my arrangements to attend. Finally, they were coming! I couldn’t believe it and I had to be there. Thank goodness I was, too, because they put on a helluva show. I got a prime spot towards the front where I could see and still be relatively comfortable. The venue was filled. Everyone was excited and sweaty with anticipation.

Then the quartet of dudes entered the stage. The crowd was on point; ready and in dance mode. “Where I’m Going” from the latest album, Zonoscope, was played at the beginning of the set. I like that it was thrown into the beginning for some measure against some of the lesser known songs. They all led up to the second half of the show, which was more pleasing than pink starburst.

Dan Whitford stood there belting out songs while a fan (a literal, electric fan; not a person…haha, although I would have done it. I love you, Dan!) blew air through his luscious hair, evoking images of a cheesy 80s heart throb movie. In fact, I read an interview online from Seattle Gay News where the writer asked what the secret is to Dan’s hair. Guitarist, Tim Hoey answered saying Whitford’s actually working on his own hair line. Jokingly, Hoey added, “he basically modeled it on the bad kid from Karate Kid.”

“Lights and Music” broke out, and when it did, everyone went completely ape shit! I get chills just thinking about the seconds leading up to the first chorus. Just picture everyone in a movie theater sitting on the edge of their seat, waiting for that crucial moment you know will happen. I nodded my head along with the beat of the 5 second interval before all broke loose. The lights start blinking different neon colors, everyone is fiercely dancing and screaming while Dan Whitford is loudly singing “Lights and Music, are on my mind.” It’s definitely one of my FAVORITE concert moments.

Whitford keeps going, “Fading with the color you see in my face, cold and crystal you can’t hide ‘cuz your tears race. I’ll be waiting by in time, put your dreams away. You’re holding hope open for the one making you wait.” At this point, everyone is clapping with the beat, ready for the next chorus again. The cheering, screaming and clapping all gets louder and faster. I remember dancing fluidly as one with the crowd while smiling and laughing like a little girl the whole time. Wondrous.

After that serving of hotness, the band moved on with “Take Me Over,” another crowd pleaser. They just kept coming after that. “Out There on the Ice” and “Hearts on Fire” blew me away and left me dazed and dumbfounded. Cut Copy had us all in the palms of their hands. It was a big, sweaty dance party. All of my favorites were played. Plus, they came back out TWICE to play ONE more song. And they totally jammed out, too. If you have a chance to catch one of their shows, you better go. I mean, I would go even if they only played “Lights and Music,” it’s that awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better set list. I came, I saw and I danced (my ass off).


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NEW: Noah & The Whale

The album isn’t officially released until next Tuesday, but you can stream it now over at NME (click image above). I’m digging the opening track and am happy with it’s placement. “Tonight’s The Kind Of Night” reminds me of classic 80s rock, listen to the guitar riff in the chorus, you’ll hear it. “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” has a cool Tom Petty vibe. “Wild Thing” continues the similarity to Tom Petty; only this time throwing in a tiny bit of Springsteen. I like the new album, though I gotta say it’s not what I expected. “Give It All Back” is one of those “looking back” kind of songs. Though, I guess if you think about it, they all are; the album is called Last Night on Earth. “Just Me Before We Met” jumps out at me; it is so beautiful (with out being slow and sappy, of course). The violin used in the track just adds another layer of character that makes this song probably my favorite from the album. “Paradise Stars” is a sweet little instrumental interlude before the winding down with the last three songs. The final track, “Old Joy” is a bit too morose for my taste, but I guess it’s a good way to end the album…the “last night on Earth.”

1. Life Is Life
2. Tonight’s The Kind Of Night
3. L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N
4. Wild Thing
5. Give It All Back
6. Just Me Before We Met
7. Paradise Stars
8. Waiting For My Chance To Come
9. The Line
10. Old Joy

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Girl Talk at Stage AE

Pittsburgh native Greg Gillis (better known as Girl Talk) was the first to give a show at brand new Stage AE next to Heinz Field. I love everything about Girl Talk and with this being my third show, I was excited to see how all would fare in the new venue.

Click here to read the rest at Pop Damage.

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Wakey! Wakey! Show @ Brillobox

Mike Grubbs and I

There are quite a few different reasons you might have heard of Wakey! Wakey! If you are from New York, particularly the Brooklyn area, not only are you familiar with the band, but you’ve likely seen them perform. Other reasons might be because you are an avid reader of Spin, NME, Pitchfork and the like. But, the biggest reason you might have heard Wakey! Wakey! is from a show called One Tree Hill. The main man of the band is Mike Grubbs, who debuted as a character on the show last November.

Click to read more at Pop Damage

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Show Review: Plants and Animals

Post classic rock is the descriptive term the members of Plants and Animals sometimes use when categorizing their band. Some might refer to it as plain and general indie rock (but really, what can’t be called that?) or a jam band. They can be called all of these genres; what matters is that this 3-piece band ROCKS.

Click here to read more over at Pop Damage

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