After a joyfully busy weekend of authors, art, and music I ventured dahntahn for Sunday night’s grand finale. My goal was to see the juried art of the Three Rivers Arts Festival, have a deliciously decadent lobster burger, and catch some of Pittsburgh’s rock & soul powerhouse The Commonheart‘s set. Due to the delight that is public transportation on Sundays in the ‘burgh I accomplished two of the three, therefore this story isn’t about The Commonheart. Although their sound check was lovely I bused my way to the South Side’s Club Cafe to see Mephiskapheles with support from Latecomer. We recently covered Latecomer in a good deal of depth and I highly suggest you check that out because this story isn’t about them either. This will is all about the other opener at Club Cafe Sunday night, the dominating Rock and Roll of Pittsburgh’s INCO FIdO.
INCO FIdO are an… intimidating band. Eight members strong, seeing them all together one can relate to The Wu-Tang Clan‘s plan to take over the party by force of numbers and iNCO’s sound blasts from the stage with all of the might that their presence suggests. The band was formed when the unequaled ska band Masters of the Universe split due to “artistic differences” and the remaining members; Chuck Veri-vocals, Hannah Loch-Sax, and A.J. Veri-trumpet absorbed a fledgling band consisting of Tim Costello-drums, Jeremy-bass/backing vocals, and Colin Shanahan-guitar. Add the depth of Jason Van Jura on keys/backing vocals & the frenetic percussion and backing vocals of Ausin “Bubby” Hall and INCO was born. PR mastermind of the group, Chuck said of their formation,”Tim lives right down the street from me. I was going down to the beer distributor where he works anyway, so I just asked him to join up with us. He said yes!”
Taking their name from graffiti on a train bridge over 376W near Carnegie because it “sounds good” INCO FIdO was birthed in 2015 and saw the release of their debut six-track EP, “After You” that same year. All of their recording and production takes place “in house,” so to speak, with said house being a unit in EZ Self-Storage with bassist Jeremy at the helm. In the age of ProTools and similar wizardry Jeremy is self-taught, honing his skills through a process of trial and error and the recordings are crisp and clean. Be on the lookout for their next self-produced effort, currently a “work in progress” due to an unfortunate mishap of the laptop with the masters “falling” out of a window. I didn’t make that up, but in the meantime you can pick up their two-track single “Line Dancing” b/w “876” on a nifty thumb drive at any of their shows.
Speaking of shows, the INCOs have had the distinction of opening for such greats as The Toasters, Mustard Plug, Voodoo Glow Skulls, and The Pietasters prior to their slot with Mephiskapheles. They report that playing with The Pietasters was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream and when asked who else they could possibly want to open for that they hadn’t already Here Come The Mummies is their emphatic, and fitting, choice. No band is an island and these long time scene veterans were quick to extol the virtues of their friends and peers. Some of their favorites include Super Awesome Fun Time Party Band, Beauty Slap, Hannah’s (a.k.a. The Responsible One’s) Funky other project The Goodfoots, and, as according to Jeremy, “the best thing to come out of Pittsburgh,” Crooked Cobras. As for locals that they’d like to play alongside, we unfortunately won’t be able to see them with “the guy that plays the sax at Century III Mall,” B.E. Taylor. R.I.P.
Their live show is truly a sight and sound to behold. Self-described as “fun, loud, crowded, and drunk,” I find their shows to be exactly that and this time was no exception. Horn-backed rock and roll that is sure to make you dance, there is always plenty of action onstage should you stop to catch your breath. Every musician up there deserves your attention, but in all honesty, it’s Chuck and Bubby’s frenetic dancing and interplay that steals the show. While powerfully belting out soulful vocals, Chuck never fails to cut loose with his best dance moves while Bubby madly whirls around slapping the tambourine as if he’s being attacked by a swarm of bees. As a novice auxiliary percussionist, I’ve been delighted to see Bubby’s arsenal of instruments grow. The sleigh bells were a nice addition, but this performance was the first I’ve seen that featured a rain stick and vibraslap. I can always go for more vibraslap.
The intimate but welcoming Club Cafe is I.F’s home-away-from-home and the band jokes that it’s the only venue that’s invited them back. Outside of that they prefer Pittsbugh’s “divey” venues for both performing in and attending shows, with Black Forge Coffee House, Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, and Howlers topping their list. They soon hope to play at Looking For Group, but that will have to wait as their next appearance is slated for Friday, June 23 alongside The Goodfoots. It will serve as The Goodfoots’ fan appreciation show held at 3634 Penn Ave, 15201 with an open bar of beer, wine, and cocktails and free t-shirts as party favors!
I’ll leave you with Chuck’s response to my wild-card question of “What exactly is it that you LOVE about Smash Mouth?” After a very brief pause he replied,”I saw a video where the lead singer got hit in the head with a loaf of bread!” That sounds pretty lovable, but apologies to Colin who replied,”That they’re not playing anymore!” as Steve Harwell et al. indeed are booked for this year’s Regatta (Saturday, August 5th, for all of you interested fans). I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that the guys of Latecomer were eager to say hi to Punksburgh and its readers and also very intent on asking,”Who the fuck said that we liked Taking Back Sunday?!?” I’m guessing it was one of them, but the world may never know.
Additional (better) photography provided by the unequivocal Randall Reskovac.