Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kopecky Family Band and Essential Machine - Photos and Concert Review - July 19, 2014

Kelsey Kopecky and the Kopecky Family Band. Club Cafe 7/19/14. All photos (c) PMR.
Saturday was a night of fun music, pure and simple. Essential Machine opened with an up-tempo set that had the crowd dancing and singing along, not just milling about the bar and killing time like is so often the case with openers. RJ is the lead singer and his wife, Karen, plays the drums. RJ has a beard the Duck Dynasty guys would envy. A couple times I worried it was going to get caught in his guitar strings and the whole thing would end up looking something like this:

 Thankfully, nothing like this happened. 

Check out the band's track "Les Squelettes" if you haven't heard it yet. I usually think that the xylophone is a gimmicky instrument but there's something very carefree and inviting in how its used in this song.

Not ten minutes after Essential Machine finished their set and the Kopecky Family Band was on. I only caught the first five or six songs because I had been sick all weekend. The good news is that my fever finally broke sometime in the middle of "My Way." But I probably wasn't the only person in the crowd breaking out in sweats during their performance. These guys are awesome. There was six of them onstage, an impressive feat considering the size of the stage at Club Cafe, and the number of instruments they use.

The aforementioned "My Way" started off with a pretty little xylophone lick (maybe I should reconsider the xylophone) before launching off into a chorus that the whole audience shouted along with. Lead singer Gabe Simon traded his guitar for a trombone halfway through the song, then the bassist, Corey Oxendine, went and traded for one too. There were two trombones going at once! What madness! The whole performance was a lot of fun, and I only wish I could have stayed for the whole thing.

Here are some photos from the performance:



-- B. Conway

Friday, July 18, 2014

Camera Obscura at Mr. Smalls - Interview and Ticket Giveaway - July 23, 2014

Camera Obscura
Scotland's Camera Obscura returns to Pittsburgh Wednesday for the first time since 2009. That was the year when the Scottish indie-pop group hit it big with their album My Maudlin Career, which featured the catchy track "French Navy." Four years later, in 2013, the band released Desire Lines. They are currently touring in support of that album after a brief hiatus caused by two of the bandmembers becoming new parents.

We were at that show four years ago, and we reviewed it too. Check it out: http://www.pghmusicreport.com/2009/07/concert-review-camera-obscura-anni.html

In anticipation of the band's return to Pittsburgh, we had the pleasure of interviewing the band's pianist, Carey Lander. (She's the one on the left in the photo.)

Pittsburgh Music Report: It's been a while since you've toured the States. Is the excitement finally starting to kick in?

Carey Lander: The excitement has been there for ages; the nerves are starting to kick in. Practical worries about equipment and travel. The US is easily one of our favourite places to play though, the people that come to see us are very nice, I love a lot of the scenery and food. I only wish it was a longer tour.

PMR: You'll be playing the same venue here in Pittsburgh, Mr. Smalls, that you played in '09, the final stop on your My Maudlin Career Tour. Any memories from your time here in our city?

CL: I do remember that gig. I had a few friends that lived there then so it was fun to see them and have a drink after the show. I think I remember a surprise radio performance in the morning too that our TM had forgotten about, we had to roll out of bed and hurry unwashed to the station without breakfast. I like your bridges.

PMR: Musically, what's the difference from the band we saw in back in 2009 and the one we'll see next month?

CL: Probably not that different, though obviously we have another album under our belts now and a few years more experience of playing together. We are older, battered and more tired but we do our best.  

PMR: It will be over a year since your most recent album came out. Have the songs evolved at all on stage during the time you've been performing them live?

CL: Maybe a little, though most of the evolution happens when you are first arranging them for live performance after recording the album. It's always a bit of a balance when making a record, you don't want to limit yourself and restrict what you put on it, but there's often a niggle in your mind about how you're going to recreate it live. It is hard rehearsing the songs to the point where you don't have constant freak outs about what chord comes next, but apart from the odd slip we should be there now.
PMR: One of the things that impressed our reviewer from your '09 concert was your outfits. He was impressed that the gentlemen all wore vests and the ladies dresses. Will you still be getting dressed up for shows?

CL: Uh oh. The pressure. We give ourselves permission to be a little scruffier these days; [lead singer] Tracyanne was 7 months pregnant on our summer tour last year and comfort was definitely allowed come before fashion. We have always made an effort though, despite how it may finally appear. I always do a lot of panic-shopping before a tour, wondering what on earth to wear.

PMR: We've had a lot of great Scottish bands play Pittsburgh over the past couple years: Mogwai, Twilight Sad, and Frightened Rabbit, to name just a few. Are there any other emerging bands back home that we should be on the lookout for?

CL: Check out Ela Orleans, she's great.

Thanks again to Carey for answering our questions. If you would like to see Carey, and the rest of Camera Obscura, live, consider entering our giveaway. To enter for a chance to win two tickets, simply email your name to pghmusicreport@gmail.com, and place "camera obscura" in the subject line. We'll announce a winner early Tuesday. 

Tickets to the show cost $17 and are available via Ticketweb.

Singer/songwriter Laura Cantrell opens. Cantrell comes to us from New York via Tennessee. She has an excellent voice that matches well with Camera Obscura's indie pop aesthetic.  Here she is live: 

-- B. Conway

Local Spotlight is Returning

One of the things longtime readers of the site may have noticed lately is that we haven't been running the Local Artist Spotlight. 

Shame on us for that. 

Pittsburgh is an incredible city with a flourishing music scene, and its up to websites like ours to encourage local bands by giving them a platform through which they can share not only their music but also their talent and enthusiasm.

So today, in recognition of Hugh Twyman Day in the City of Pittsburgh, and all of Hugh's work with local bands over the past decade, we're announcing that the Local Artist Spotlight is returning.

This has been a time of transition for Pittsburgh Music Report. Old writers are leaving and new are arriving. This has always been a labor of love for us, something we do in our free time because we love live music. And we hope that you enjoy reading the site as much we enjoy writing it.

Keep up with the site for more tickets giveaways, band interviews, concert photos, show reviews, live videos, concert previews, and whatever else we come up with.

If you're a local band that's interested in a feature, or if you have a new album coming out, or something else going on, shoot us an email at pghmusicreport [at] gmail.com. And we'll do our best to reach out to bands who have gotten in touch with us in the past few months as well.

In the meantime, check out the archives for our Local Artist Spotlight here: http://www.pghmusicreport.com/search/label/local%20spotlight


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kopecky Family Band at Club Cafe - Concert Preview and TIcket Giveaway - July 19, 2014

photo (c) Rolling Stone

The first time I heard Tennessee's Kopecky Family Band was on the excellent "Indie Rock Hit Parade," which streams Friday nights on Philly's WXPN. The song was called "My Way." It starts off rather delicately, Kelsey Kopecky singing sweetly alongside a plucky guitar line and twinkling xylophone. Then bam! Co-vocalist Gabe Simon shouts the chorus over a frenzy of horns and and chants, the whole thing kin to Arcade Fire's "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)." I was hooked.

The Arcade Fire comparison doesn't fit all that snugly for a lot of their songs – they're a folk-rock outfit at heart – but it's a hard one for me to avoid when the band kicks it into high gear. "The Glow" is another one that builds upon the folk-rock framework. Kopecky and Simon sing together about running toward home, and are backed by a chugging guitar and a glittering piano; it sounds like it should be on The Suburbs.

The Kopecky's – who aren't actually family – number six in studio but usually perform live with more There's a male and female vocalist who trade parts and harmony, plus a string player, horn player, and couple guitarists for good measure. They formed in 2007, in Tennessee, yet they have only one full-length album to date, 2013's Kids Raising Kids. That album, in my opinion, has an outstanding first half, but the B side fizzles out quickly. Coincidentally, that is when they seem to run out of ideas and fall back on the type of flat indie folk that characterizes much of the genre today.

But again, this is only the band's first album. You get the sense that the band is working toward something special, and that all this potential won't go unrealized. They are also renowned for their live performances; Paste named them a top live act back in 2011. Here they are performing a couple songs for NPR:

Tickets to the show, which is 21+, cost just $10 and are available online at TicketWeb. We also have a pair of tickets to giveaway for the performance. To enter, simply email your name to pghmusicreport@gmail.com, and put "kopecky family band" in the subject line. We'll announce a winner Friday.

Essential Machine, from Greensburg, open. Doors are at 10, music 10:30.

– B. Conway