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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Piloting Blind On A School Night
or Friday night music club

Okay, so it seems I'm always searching for new bands to add to my arsenal of iTunes. I'm generally a lyrics lover, but sometimes a band's sound strikes me, it's feel touching a part of my psyche. Fortunately for me, Pittsburgh has one of the finest public radio stations (WYEP) whose staff are adept at finding up and coming indie acts.

Several years ago, they started playing an ethereal band out of Oregon named Blind Pilot whose melodic nature struck a chord with me. They came into some notoriety for their 2008 bicycle tour in which they literally rode bikes to their gigs from Bellingham, Washington to San Diego, California, carting their gear in special bike trailers they fashioned themselves. I was excited to see them at Mr. Small's. Their music is light and rhythmic...and, as it turns out, not very varied. In fact, outside of the handful of semi-hits, it was downright monotonous. So much so, that we actually left early.

No shit.

In hindsight, the painfully looooooong set up break should have been a tip off. The delay went on for days. I am not even kidding. Hey, I'm old now. I don't have enough years left to waste that kind of time waiting for young hipsters to get their shit together backstage only to bore me to tears for forty minutes. All I can say is someone better have been puking his guts out or had explosive diarrhea to justify that wait.

The array of instruments on stage added an element of interest (banjo, harmonium, xylophone, stand-up bass, trumpet), but aside from a couple of energetic songs, the eclectic grouping of musical gadgetry did nothing to make this school night adventure sleep-deprivation worthy.

I realize by leaving early, we probably missed their best stuff, but c'mon! You gotta throw us a bone or two at the beginning, man! They weren't awful. They were just... boring, tedious, spiritless (insert your favorite adjective here). Even their stage presence was a flat line.


Then to top it off, their cover was of Gillian Welsh's wretched Miss Ohio. ACK!!

This is one of the better songs. At least I got the opportunity to play with my 8 MM app on Xpro setting.

The pleasant surprise of the evening was the opening act, The Barr Brothers, a side project of the band The Slip. A fact learned from the very enthusiastic fan standing next to us. I LOVE when fans evangelize for their favorite bands. The kid next to us could not wait to tell us all about them and his devotion to them. His entire face lit up when he spoke of the greatness of the "best drummer EVER". He kept insisting my concert cohort, Mary Ann (who is diminutive) stand in front of him so she wouldn't miss any of the performance.

So cute. I totally get his desire to witness. Um... hello. How many posts on here are devoted to all things Old 97's/Rhett Miller?

Besides a harp and mandolin, the drummer had an peculiar assortment of percussion instruments: metal smoker, Indonesian wood chime... But the oddest thing of the evening was the lead brother running his finger along a deliberately loose guitar string which I neglected to film, natch.

By the way, for anyone attending, The Barr Brothers will be at SXSW this year. They'd be worth an afternoon listen.

Again, got to play with my new app, this time on 70s setting.

Oh well. Not the most riveting musical evening I've ever spent, but still a welcomed night out with a good friend just the same. Plus there was liquor, so there's that. There are three more shows on the horizon: The Kooks, Rhett Miller solo and Ingrid Michaelson. I KNOW the middle one will go way beyond expectation. I have high hopes for the other two. Now if we could schedule a Francis fix, life would be golden.

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