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Comic Wars: Holiday Throwdown Edition

In stand-up comedy, like baseball, there are many unwritten rules followed by both the performer and the audience, most of which center around making sure the audience doesn’t disrupt the solo performer on a bare stage. Veteran comedian Matt Wohlfarth, however, doesn’t really care for any of the established etiquette of comedy clubs and performances. He’s gearing up to show off his Comic Wars show at the Arcade Theater, an event that’s basically a comedian battle royal, with performers competing against each other in a series of games and situations, all geared toward working on the craft of comedy. The audience in turn is encouraged to pick sides and vote on the winners of each round; they also determine the topics that get batted around in the games.

Wohlfarth has been working in comedy for nearly 20 years, recently founding the University of Funny, which aims to teach anyone how to “bring out their inner funny,” according to the school's website. Many of the games found in Comic Wars are also tools used by Wohlfarth in his classes; only now, a live crowd is encouraged to heckle performers at will during the competitions. For ticket and event information, visit the Arcade Comedy Theater’s website at arcadecomedytheater.com. (811 Liberty Ave, Downtown, Arcade Comedy Theater)

Locally Grown: a Pittsburgh Producers Party

December 30, 8:00 p.m.
If two things have delivered national attention to Pittsburgh’s music scene over the past five years, the double whammy has been hip-hop and electronic music in all their various forms. From the mainstream crossover of Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, and (hopefully) Boaz to the internationally recognized success of VIA Music and New Media Festival, the city is not in short supply of musical talent outside of the rock/country/folk circle of influence. That’s why it’s so exciting to see Locally Grown: A Pittsburgh Producers Party hosted by Grey Area Productions with help from local electronic show promoters Obvious, 1337, Secular, and 3P. They’ve gathered four of the best up-and-coming hip-hop and electronic producers in Pittsburgh for a showcase at the Rex Theater (that’s +17, incidentally) that really illustrates the deep and innovative music culture the city has cultivated in the new century.

The lineup includes drum and bass extraordinaire Buku, ghost house/trap duo Le Moti, samplesmith/remix genius Headphone Activist, and house music classicist Tenova. Each act brings to the table dizzying technique and impeccable taste that can be admired by diehards and novices alike. And while the artists on the bill are usually touring and playing shows around town, having all four together at one prominent club in Pittsburgh can really shine a light on what makes each worth keeping tabs on over the next year. If you want to see the Steel City’s next generation of music geniuses doing what they do best, make sure you catch Locally Grown: A Pittsburgh Producers Party on Dec. 30. (1602 East Carson Street, South Side, The Rex Theater)

No Mames: Round Corner Cantina rings in New Year's Eve

December 31, 7:00 p.m.
One of the best things about Pittsburgh’s various New Year's Eve celebrations is that nearly every neighborhood has a party worth attending. It’s relatively easy to stay away from the big crowds and tuck into some sweaty bar for cheap champagne and a night of dancing, and few bars are cozier in the winter months than Round Corner Cantina. Sure, their back patio basically doubles the size of the restaurant in the summer, and the excellent Mexican food they serve probably makes more sense in warm weather. But the main building, with its pie-shaped front bar and dim, cavernous back room, is incredibly inviting on a 20-degree night in late December. And, in the end, that’s what makes their annual NYE celebrations intimate affairs; there’s only so much space.

For this year’s NYE festivities, Cantina is hosting an end of year version of their DJ showcase No Mames, featuring local stalwarts Edgar Um and Pandemic Pete Spynda performing in front of New York-native Uproot Andy. (Uproot Andy's splashy take on Latin-infuses tropicalia dance music, most recently featured in his Guacharaca Migration mixtape, has garnered him wide acclaim.) Bring your dancing shoes and enjoy an assortment of free passed hors d'oeuvres included with the first 100 pre-sale tickets. For more ticket and event information, visit Catina’s Facebook event page. (3720 Butler Street, Lawrenceville, Round Corner Cantina)

DJs Buscrates and J Malls play '80s boogie funk at Brillobox

December 26, 9:30 p.m.
The dynamic duo of J Malls and Buscrates are back together in Pittsburgh, putting on a DJ set of music nerd specificity like they used to when Buscrates called the Steel City home. Before departing for Atlanta, Buscrates was responsible for some of the best beats for some of Pittsburgh's best MCs, like Beedie and Ensilence. Buscrates spent his time in Atlanta producing releases on Omega Supreme Records, Rotating Souls Records, Record Breakin' Music and Crosstalk International, Inc. before he suffered a serious bike accident last spring. To aid with the mounting hospital bills, J Malls helped to organize a Pittsburgh-based fundraiser at 720 Music, Clothing, and Cafe with the robust help of the city's hip-hop and music communities.

Now, Buscrates is fully recovered and ready to throw the needle down with J Malls on some selections from '80s boogie funk, a mish-mash genre of post-disco, dub, and electro beats that thrived in club scenes across the country nearly 30 years ago. An expertly curated show like this is a bread-and-butter endeavor for the two close friends who still stand as some of the most revered DJs in the city. Join them on Dec. 26 at Brillobox for a night of dancing to deep cuts you won’t hear anywhere else. (4140 Penn Ave, Lawrenceville, Brillobox)
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