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Big Bang! Pop culture collages by Matt Gondek & Brian Gonnella

August 1, 7PM
As far as the East End art scene goes, it’s always good to see spaces other than designated galleries showing off work from local artists. And while the impressively resilient Bloomfield concert venue, The Shop has managed to host a smattering of art exhibitions since its inception in 2009, its claim to fame remains hosting rising underground stars, national and local, from the punk and indie rock scenes. However, for The Shop’s latest exhibition, BIG BANG!, they've rounded up two artists who’ve done quite a bit of work in the pop art realm, designing everything from skateboard decks to concert posters, and album covers, to public art installations.

Brian Gonnella is a Pittsburgh-based illustrator known for his large murals and public art pieces, as well as his work involving fantastical set pieces, pop culture reimaginiings spray-painted on canvas, including a series of paintings depicting hip-hop artists as various relgious and historical figures. For instance, Wu-Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard as Jesus, and Notrious B.I.G. as Henry VIII.

Matt Gondek shares much of the same territory as Gonnella, but has a more transgressive aesthetic, like the street art piece that portrays Homer Simpson’s head being disintegrated from some kind of shockwave, or the horrific Wasteland Scene mural he was comissioned to design for a nightclub in Brisbane, Australia.

Both artists bring their unique, pop culture skewering perspective to the exhibit, which will feature mostly large, intricate collage-style paintings that will be on display, and on sale, at The Shop through Aug. 31.

The exhibit’s opening reception will be held this Friday at 7PM, featuring music from Tracksploitation and drinks provided by Sailor Jerry Rum. (4314 Main Street, Bloomfield,
The Shop)

Casket Girls at Club Cafe

August 2, 10:30PM
It almost makes too much sense that Savannah, Ga., synth pop group The Casket Girls are playing the 10:30PM late show at Club Cafe this weekend, one of the city's latest standing show times.

As a project overseen by Black Moth Super Rainbow guitarist and Graveface Records founder Ryan Graveface and fueled by the ethereal voices of sisters Phaedra & Elsa Greene, the music of The Casket Girls immediately conjurs images of foggy cemeteries that seemingly stretch into nothingness; I can't imagine them playing a 2PM set at a big summer fesitval no matter how hard I try.

Their 2012 debut album Sleepwalking pulled equally from the shoegazing haze of My Bloody Valentine and the ghostly art pop of Kate Bush's chilliest work, while maintaining an underlining palpable mood of unseen menace and desolation. Sleepwalking was pretty in the way a moonscape is alluring, even while being a little tattered at the edges and possessing more than a few songs that could be ignored.

And just to reiterate the otherwordly nature of the project, let's take a minute to explore the group's songwriting process. When the Greene girls began writing material for their sophomore album True Love Kills The Fairy Tale back in 2013, collaborator Graveface supposedly dropped off a few instrumentals for them to work on, but didn't hear back from them for hours. When Graveface finally stopped by to check on the sistersthat night, Elisa was in the corner, sobbing while reciting poetry, and Phaedra, in a quasi-catatonic state, was writing everything down.

When they dropped off the demos to Graveface the next day, they supposedly didn't remember the music they wrote and had to re-learn every single piece of music when they began recording the album in a proper studio. True Love Kills The Fairy Tale is a supposedly accurate representation of the night the Greene sisters had what can only be described as an out of body experience, and it totally sounds that way.

From the opening moments of lead track "Same Side," with its Peter Gabriel-drum machine, and the Greene sisters cooing "I swatted at a moth / and a chill came over me," to the scatterbrained euphoria of "Hold You Back," which has a synth part that sounds like a hard drive atrophying, True Love is a strangely affecting listen.

Whatever Graveface and the Greene sisters did to make this music worked almost too well.  (Aug. 2, 10:30PM at 56-58 S.12th Street, South Side, Club Cafe

Pittsburgh Glass Center hosts The Idea Furnace for 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial

Along with the Carnegie International, the Pittsburgh Biennial is easily the region’s most important survey of art. After 20 years, the 2014 Biennial has also become the largest exhibition of contemporary art in the city, boasting a partnership of exhibiting museums that include The Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, Mattress Factory, The Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh Glass Center, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and SPACE gallery.

The Pittsburgh Glass Center, in the second exhibit opening of the 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial, will be hosting the Idea Furnace, a project that has several local artists creating and showing glass art without any previous experience working in the medium.

According to curator Heather McElwee, the Idea Furnace allows participating artists, seven visual artists aided by five glass artists, to “
explore a new material and create a body of work with the help of a master glass artist.”

The project also aims to connect the world of glass art with other visual art forms and, by extension, further the mission of the Pittsburgh Glass Center.

The opening reception of the Idea Furnace, which will be running through October 26, is being held Fri., Aug. 1 from 6PM - 9PM.
For more information about the exhibit, and everything else the 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial has to offer, visit www.pittsburghbiennial.org. (5472 Penn Avenue, Friendship, Pittsburgh Glass Center).

Drusky and VIA bring Kuenta i Tambu to Cattivo

August 1, 8:30PM
As we rapidly approach the announcement for VIA’s fifth iteration of their new media and music festival on August 5, it’s a good thing to be reminded about the forward thinking production crew’s ability to bring internationally renowned electronic musicians to Pittsburgh, and the show they have lined up on Aug.1 is no exception.

VIA, along with Drusky Entertainment, have teamed up to bring tropical bass outfit Kuenta i Tambu (which translates to “words and drums" in the Caribbean language Papiamento
) to newly annointed live music venue Cattivo in Lawrenceville this weekend.

KiT, like many of the acts VIA books, not only ply their trade making culturally advanced dance music, combining Afro-Curaçaoan tambú music with ravey EDM beats, but also, they have the ability to absolutely obliterate dance floors. (Look at this video of their performance in Los Angeles last month for evidence.)

The Carribbean-via-Amsterdam-based quintet’s 2013 album Tambutronic is a shotgun blast of globe trotting house music made even more potent and flexible by the injection of traditional forms of percussion, like the Tambu drums and the Chap.  The “tambu” music the group plays was prevalent in “work songs” for slaves on the Carribean island of Curacao, and KiT use the style as a jumping off point for referencing all manner of island music, including reggaeton, dancehall, and zouk.

KiT’s lead single “Jackhammer” has the group’s lead singer Diamanta von Lieshdek calling out pretty much every dance scene in the world in a thick patois over whirling dervish production that’s chock full of diamond precise percussion parts, whining synth squeals and double time bass.

For those of you with reservations regarding the ethical implications of cultural tourism in Diplo’s dancehall project Major Lazer, KiT gives you the genuine product. Tambutronic is less a party-starter than a full-on assault aimed to get people moving; aggressive, rhythmic, and tempered by gorgeous fleeting bits of island harmony.

Don't miss a chance to have a wholly original dance floor experience when Kuenta i Tambu roll through Lawrenceville this Friday. (146 44th Street, Lawrenceville, Cattivo)
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