Review: Farewell Glowworms & HELL-O, Buildings! – The Rock Room 11/18/17

I can’t even recall how I caught wind of the band Buildings, regardless I had and I was very excited to see the trio self-described as a punk outfit. I had previewed the band a bit on bandcamp and even though I liked it I wasn’t quite sure that it lived up to the possibly self-inflicted hype or that they were truly “punk.”

The crowd at the Rock Room was thick and the band began as I was awaiting a beverage. It sounded good – really good – from the front room and I trepidatiously made my way into the performance room knowing full well how loud yet muffled things could be back there. Loud it was, but delightfully so as I was able to hear each member’s instrumentation perfectly. With cited influences ranging from The Jesus Lizard to Wire, both impressive bands to emulate/incorporate, experiencing the band live my mind wandered to acts like Helmet, Godflesh, at times even hints of Neurosis. I was over the moon! As was everyone that I spoke to, and apparent on the faces of the crowd as I looked around while verbal communication was impossible. The only drawback that I could find with their performance was that it seemed to end too quickly. Alas, the show and the tour must go on, but the rumor is that the boys from Minneapolis will be headed back our way come spring! This a band that you must see live.

SOMEHOW the following set was both my first and last Glowworms experience and I am remiss for that. Fitting snugly into the post-punk realm, their sound is otherwise hard to pin down. Loud and at times drone-y, I could easily see them roking out to bands like Isis or Einstürzende Neubauten (eerily enough translated to “collapsing new buildings,” heh) in their free time. In addition to not being hipped to them sooner, I also feel like I should apologize for not deciphering their perhaps socialist-leaning lyrics as they seem well-read and place importance on storytelling through the music that they write. Nonetheless, they were successful in delivering heavy music in a cathartic way. Their set wasn’t without it’s missteps, but it barely matted. Both they and the crowd were enjoying one last stand to it’s fullest. Bassist Heather is leaving our beloved ‘burgh, drummer Greg is involved with one very fortunate metal band, and guitarist/vocalist Jordo is hard at work entrepreneuring, but they’ve vowed to keep their options open. As someone that has been known to hashtag “MORE NOISE ROCK NOW” it was with a heavy heart that I witnessed the trail left by Glowworms burning brightly while at the same time fading off into the distance.

I’d like to personally extend my congratulations to whomever helmed the sound Saturday night and also to thank whoever made the decision to leave the stage light on. Note to bands, lots of us like to be able to see what you’re doing up there. Perpetually late as I am, I regrettably missed Unreliable Narrator and Aloe. I had been looking forward to their sets, but had also been looking forward to eating and made a stop at my local dive’s early Thanksgiving celebration. Delicious as it was, chalk that up as a sacrifice as everyone swore to me that both bands played killer sets. Rest assured that both the noisy Aloe and the pure punk of Unreliable Narrator are on my radar and I shall be catching shows of theirs in the near future.

No one expects the Punksburgh Inquisition: Bengt Alexsander (Action Camp)

bengt

Photo by Action Camp

Born into the Boston music scene, Bengt Alexsander brought with him to Pittsburgh a competitive drive and an intrepid ability to take creative risks with his projects.  A member of multiple bands over the years, Alexsander not only performs, but is also an audio engineer who masters albums and runs sound for other bands.  After spending over a decade in Pittsburgh, he gained prominence in the Pittsburgh music scene and partnered with several musical groups – notably the wonderful collective known as the Duquesne Light Orchestra. After covering Action Camp on multiple occasions, Punksburgh had to zone in on this local doom/sludge/surf rock legend for today’s inquisition.

Current Bands

Action Camp

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List the names of every band that you’ve ever played in ever.

Zipper, St. Dude, a brief tenure in Urns

What was the artist, album, or song that inspired you to play/write music? 

The Pixies on the visceral side, ABBA on the composition side

Quite the juxtaposition. Photos from Google

What is your favorite piece of merch that you own?

My “ABBA as a black metal band” shirt

abba black metal shirt.jpg

“Dancing Queen” just took on a whole new meaning.  Photo from Google

Tell us one thing about the Pittsburgh music scene that could be better and one thing about the scene that you love. 

To put it in context, I came up in the Boston music scene which is also where I met Maura and started Action Camp. A big advantage of such a large scene is it is highly competitive which breeds really solid hungry bands and promotes a lot of creative risk taking.

I still feel like after almost a decade in Pittsburgh that it could stand to be slightly more competitive to raise the stakes and effort a bit. There are a lot of great bands and musicians in this city, but it can be so friendly and welcoming sometimes that it allows a band to rest on their laurels (myself included) and tread water.

I always push bands that only play locally to tour because it can only make you stronger. In my opinion, playing to your friends and fans every month is one thing, but having to win over potentially hostile strangers is the greatest gift a musician can be given 🙂

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What’s something about you/your band that you think people should know that maybe they don’t? 

At the very beginning, we were almost an alt country band. When Maura and I first met we were on a Nico Case and Frank Black & the Catholics kick, but that quickly shifted way more towards heavier sample based compositions. You can hear some reminiscence of it in songs like Seed, Desert Dogs, and Remain (which we recently brought back and rearranged as a slow doom song tuned down to F)

 

If you had to pick only one of your songs for people to listen to, which one would it be? 

War At My Side – it’s a perfect example of our writing style as a trio: stacked vocal lines, heavy dynamic shifts, and semi-hidden odd time
signatures.

Who would you cast in the movie of your band? 

Maura – Ayn Rand
Joe – Jermaine Clemente
Bengt – Toby Maguire

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How does your mom/family react to your music? Do they come to your shows? 

My family is very supportive and have long stopped worrying about what my “back up plan” is. My mom hasn’t been to a show in probably 9 years due to her being on the east coast, and it’s also a lot to ask her to come see us play a bar in Boston at 1am on a random Tuesday night we happen to be in town.

What band or artist have you seen live the most number of times? 

Weird Paul Rock Band – we’ve played a bunch of shows together, and I’ve worked, participated, or attended almost every 99 cent Variety Show of his since moving to Pittsburgh.

What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you at a show as a performer or spectator? 

Once we were mid set at a club in Boston in the dead of winter when the main water pipe froze and burst. They immediately killed the power (so we didn’t get electrocuted) and had to stop the show.

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Catch Bengt with Action Camp November 17th at Howlers (for Joe Tarowski’s birthday!) with The Dark Lines and BBGUNS. 

Check out some of our past Inquisitions as well!

Brian McGee (The Danzas)
Jonathan Bagamery (Murder For Girls)
Jesse Ley (Delicious Pastries / City Steps / Mantiques)
Adam Sniff (the Scratch ‘n’ Sniffs)
Pat McGhen (Playoff Beard / the Shutouts)

The Metal Edge launches Sunday! Manager Jonathan speaks today!

On a decidedly dark and depraved evening one year ago two long-time collaborators, Jonathan Keilback and Zach Fehl, concocted a mischievous plan. A plan of monumental proportions. A plan for an all-local metal and heavy music streaming station. Behold! The creature, The Metal Edge was hatched. Co-manager, producer of The Millvale Music Festival, bassist with Only Flesh and the (currently on hiatus) Existential Gentlemen, and honestly one of the nicest guys around, Jonathan, generously offered up his brain for the pickings.

Jonathan Keilback

Jonathan Keilback

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No one expects the Punksburgh Inquisition: Jesse Ley (Delicious Pastries / City Steps / Mantiques)

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Between being a member of a triad of bands and co-DJing the killer dance phenomenon known as “Strangeways,” chances are you’ve encountered today’s inquisition feature:  Jesse Ley.  Talented and charming, Jesse will rock a set on the drumkit and then have friendly chats with admiring audience members.  Staying busy with his myriad of projects, he’s pulling double duty this Friday at the Delicious Pastries‘ double a-sided single release show, where he’ll play percussion with the Pastries and then DJ for the “Strangeways” afterparty.  We at Punksburgh caught up with him to inquire about the following:

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Two Cents on Murder For Girls’ “All The Pretty Stars”

Blender analogies are lazy, so let’s find a way around them. While Murder For Girls always has traced its trajectory back to the Riot Grrl bands of the early ’90s, its new record – All The Pretty Stars, which the band will mark with a release show Saturday night – is a little bit more nuanced than that, borrowing from Babes In Toyland and early Hole (and, yes, Grrls like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile and Calamity Jane) as much as it does alt-rock icon Kim Deal and fellow Pittsburgh punks T-Tops. During the course of the record’s nine tracks, the listener is treated to full-throttled but melodic punk – the choruses of “Pleather” and closer “Rocker Chick Vibe” will dig their hooks deep into your cerebellum – but also songs like “Lucy,” whose verses exude a kind of pop-rock naivete. The record is far from three power chords and a cloud of dust.

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