Monday, April 14, 2014

Ghost at Stage AE - Friday, April 18, 2014 - Concert Preview and Ticket Giveaway

Swedish metal band Ghost play Stage AE Friday, April 18, and let's get one thing out of the way: they are self-proclaimed satanists. Or at least that's the story. The truth? Ghost is all spectacle and theatrics, Ozzy's version of Kiss. You either get it or you watch too much Nancy Grace. ("Socialist devil-worshippers preach their satanic sermon," the headline screams!) And besides, satanists are a lot less interesting than we might imagine

That's not to say Ghost (known as Ghost B.C. in the States because of a trademark dispute) don't do a convincing job of portraying evil incarnate. All but one of the band members go by "Nameless Ghoul" and perform onstage in black robes and black masks. The one who doesn't is the lead singer, Papa Emeritus. He comes out wearing all-black papal vestments, mitre included, his face painted like a skeleton. (Dave Grohl, a big fan of Ghost, is rumored to have performed anonymously with them in the past.)

But Ghost isn't just a gimmick band. Their second album, Infestissumam, won the Swedish equivalent of a Grammy in 2014 for Hard Rock / Metal album of the year. Their sound isn't nearly as heavy as you'd expect, even though the Ghouls cut their teeth in the flourishing Swedish black metal scene. Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult seem like obvious influences, while others have pointed out a connection with Mercyful Fate and their facepaint-wearing lead singer, King Diamond. Judge for yourself: here's Ghost performing the track "Year Zero" live:

We have two tickets to give away for this performance. Email us at "pghmusicreport [at]" with Ghost in the subject line. We'll announce the winner Wednesday evening. Not feeling lucky? Tickets cost $23 and are available via Promowest.

King Dude opens for Ghost. He's a devil-worshipping folk singer. Or at least that's what he'd have you believe.

– B. Conway

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Danny Brown at Altar Bar - April 15, 2014 - Ticket Giveaway and Preview

Danny Brown will be in Pittsburgh Tuesday, April 15, at Altar Bar. Danny is one of the bigger names in rap today. Hailing from Detroit, he's acquired the unfortunate designation of "hipster rapper," mostly because he wears skinny jeans and has been championed by publications like Spin and Pitchfork, the former of which named his album XXX rap album of the year in 2011.

But what about the music? Here's his bio from Rap Genius: "an unconventional hip-hop artist employing multiple flows and cadences thus the moniker of 'The Hybrid.' His style varies from low pitched gravely tones to a manic, high pitched, squawk." There's a streak of tracks in the middle of Old, his most recent album, from 2013, with dusty old beats that sound like they belong on a Madvillian album. This is no surprise considering the (possibly apocryphal) tale that Danny's brother used to send him Doom lyrics to read while Danny was doing time for selling weed. (Danny also appears on Madlib's new album, Pinata.)

Here's "Dip," the club-banging first single off of Old.

On the second track off Old Danny takes aim at the whole "hipster rap" sleight:

The return of the gangster fuck a hipster squeeze a trigger
You got me fucked up, I'm a hood-ass nigga

But this track is followed by one that features electro-pop duo Purity Ring, who, let's face it, are a hipster band. And then there's this great quote from an interview with Pitchfork where he talks about Radiohead's Kid A being an inspiration:

I made XXX with the aim of getting great reviews. And when I started making Old, I was trying to think of artists that came back from getting great reviews and made an album that was just as good-- or better! The only group I could really come up with was Radiohead. So if XXX was my OK Computer, then I'd have to make my Kid A next. So I studied Kid A, and I took away that it's not so much about the lyrics as it is about the way the beats feel, so what drives this album is the production.

But let's get down to what matters: who cares about the hipster thing. Danny Brown raps about what he likes and what he knows: is there anything more hip-hop than keeping it 100? Let's not forget that most of today's best musicians are the ones breaking barriers between genres. 

We have two tickets to giveaway for this performance. Email us at pghmusicreport [at] with "danny brown" in the subject line to enter. Bodega Bamz opens. This all-ages show starts at 8, doors at 7, and tickets run $18 in advance.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Great Caesar at Pittsburgh Winery, with Gregory Dutton - Photos - April 5, 2014

Here are some photos from Great Caesar's performance at the Pittsburgh Winery Saturday. The band came charging down the stairs like a mariachi band possessed. The Winery is a beautiful place - this was my first show there - but with the amount of energy and skill on display by Great Caesar I'm sure they'll have to find a bigger venue for their next stop through town.

Greg Dutton, formerly of Lohio, opened, and performed a brief duet with his fiancee, Liz, also of Lohio, that went out to Hugh Twyman. We're still waiting for that follow on Twitter, Hugh!



-- B. Conway

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Phantogram at Stage AE, with Jagwar Ma - 4.4.14 - Photos

Add Phantogram to that long list of bands that need to be seen live to be fully appreciated. Stage AE appeared to be nearly sold out, so that message must have gotten around since the band's last stop in Pittsburgh, at Mr. Smalls in 2011. They completely deserved the bump up in venue.

Jagwar Ma opened. The crowd wanted to buy what they were selling, but most of the cheers were reserved for whenever the band mentioned they were from Australia, in that rich, dreamy accent of theirs.   

For those that couldn't make it, here's what you missed:



-- B. Conway