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Pittsburgh CLO's Judge Jackie Justice runs through April 27th. Photo by Matt Polk. pittsburghclo.org
Pittsburgh CLO's Judge Jackie Justice runs through April 27th. Photo by Matt Polk. pittsburghclo.org | Show Photo
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Laugh into the abyss with the Wham City Comedy tour

April 16, 8:00 PM
Part of the reason Baltimore-based arts collective Wham City has received national recognition is because its brand of homegrown weirdness and bohemian stability has flourished outside the classic arty hotbeds of New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco for the past ten years. While most of that recognition was garnered by Wham City founder/musician/multi-tasker Dan Deacon, who has been touring and acting as Wham City’s ambassador since his 2007 breakthrough album Spiderman of the Rings, Deacon’s music is just the tip of the collective's creative output. Wham City boasts a rotating cast of visual artists, playwrights, authors, filmmakers and comedians, and now their touring comedy troupe is taking its turn in the spotlight.

The Wham City Comedy Tour comes to the Melwood Screening Room at Pittsburgh Filmmakers this Wednesday, ready to showcase their singularly offbeat, cutting vision of humor that’s more influenced by the nightmarish, burnt-out VHS strangeness of Adult Swim’s Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim than the traditional sketch comedy of Second City or Saturday Night Live. The troupe, comprised of comedians Alan Resnick, Ben O’Brien, Robby Rackleff and Mickey Freeland, performs a tight (75 minutes) but eclectic multi-media show that features original stand-up, videos, skits and monologues. 

Their best bits don’t usually carry clear punchlines or laugh-a-minute premises, but instead set-up mundane situations that turn into hilariously bizzare and unsettling rabbit holes. Characters possess a kind of terrifying open-endedness that fuels the group’s strangely compelling comedic rhythms. For instance, O’Brien’s Drywall Doug, an affable mid-western drywall contractor potentially experiencing an existential crisis replete with cryptic, new-agey hallucinations or Resnick’s Ted Talk-ing tech mogul who’s hosting a faux infomercial that shows viewers how to upload their consciousnesses onto computers so they can live on after death. In fact, Resnick’s tech mogul recently made its TV debut as an 11-minute short on Adult Swim last December.

Wham City Comedy is currently celebrating their highest profile to date. Don’t miss this chance to catch their mind-bending live show on their short, month long tour. Tickets are available now at VIA's website. (477 Melwood Avenue, Oakland, www.pghfilmmakers.org)

The 90's nostalgia of Speedy Ortiz

April 17, 6:30PM
While it’s tempting to reduce Massachusetts-based noise pop quartet Speedy Ortiz to the novelty of a tribute band, given their obvious fealty to canonical 90’s alternative/indie rock acts like Pavement, the Pixies, Sonic Youth, Sebadoh, Liz Phair and Dinosaur Jr., you can’t help but get swept along by the group’s incredible command of their influences. The wiry slack rock of their 2013 debut album Major Arcana sounded both nostalgically familiar and thrillingly fresh, bristling with energy.

There appears to be a cynicism and seriousness that got retroactively projected on every band from this era (at least from detractors) and lead singer/songwriter Sadie Dupuis seems extremely aware of this fact. Her songwriting brings out the quaking waves of energy and rich emotional storytelling that fueled the best of the 90s underground scene without dragging along any weary fatalism. Frankly, it’s hard not to just sit and admire the literacy and beauty of her lyrics on the page, which deftly weave tales of emotional trauma together with wry reflection and biting commentary.

Their most recent release, the Real Hair EP, released this past February, takes the noodly down-tempo guitars of their auspicious debut and blows them up by several orders of magnitude. This provides Dupuis with a bolder canvas to craft more complex harmonies and poetic, abstracted lyrics that still resonate with dreamy washes of feeling. For instance, when she coos the gimlet sharp, gender swapping line from “Everything’s Bigger”: “Me, I’m just like my wife/ She’s a blade and I’m a dull knife / Turned up in a bouquet.”

Regardless of one’s yearning for an alt-rock age now passed, Speedy Ortiz have emerged over the past 18 months as a confident, inventive, guitar-driven band with a firmly established (and understood) aesthetic. Without getting too caught up in any rockist arguments, they are a rare breed in this current era of underground music. Tickets are available now at Ticketfly. (1306 East Carson Street, South Side, www.smiling-moose.com)

PGH Photo Fair speakers series talks collections

The third iteration of the PGH Photo Fair continues its series of speakers ahead of the main event to be held on May 17-18 at the Carnegie Museum of Art. The talks are seeking to contribute commentary, according to their website, on the “nuts and bolts of collecting, including connessuiership, the state of art, and an insider’s view of the market.” This Saturday, April 17 at the Mattress Factory, the speaker series will feature a panel of respected collectors discussing how they started their collections, changed their strategies over the years and found ways to thrive in a competitive market.

The speakers include nationally renown art collector Laura Bidwell, who, along with her husband Fred, founded the recently opened, innovative art gallery Transformer Station in Cleveland, famed Pop Art collector and amateur photography historian Peter Cohen, BNY Mellon Curator of works of art on paper Brian Lang, and local art collector Woody Ostrow. The talk will be moderated by PGH Photo Fair and Fugitive Vision founder Evan Mirapaul, which will have a crowd Q&A following the discussion. The speaker series will have two more engagements before the event proper, including a talk on April 28 with the Vice President of New York’s Swann Galleries, Daile Kaplan, and the final talk on May 8 with Sam Berkowitz, Founder and Director of the Pittsburgh-based Concept Art Gallery. Visit PGH Photo Fair’s website for more information. (500 Sampsonia Way, North Side, www.mattress.org)

The story of Slint's seminal album 'Spiderland' comes to the Hollywood Theatre

Few albums over the past 25 years can claim to contain within them the creation, or the catalyst for creation, of a new genre. For a quartet of brainy teenagers from Louisville, KY who found each other in early high school and eventually formed a band named Slint, they managed to achieve this feat on their second and final album. The group’s 1991 release Spiderland, along with Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock, released the same year, worked effectively as the big bang for the defiantly amorphous strains of music that would come to be known as Post Rock and Math Rock.

The members of Slint densely wove webs of swelling guitar lines, time singnature warping compositions, jazzy meanderings and avant-garde leaning flourishes (which included spoken word vocal performances) into an enigmatic, enduring recording that would inspire a host of bands including Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor! Slint’s dissolution soon after Spiderland’s release, coupled with rumors that some band members were intermittently institutionalized during the recording process, only caused the mystique surrounding the album to grow in the decade to follow.

Now, 23 years after Spiderland dropped into the world, famed music video director and documentarian Lance Bangs has made Breadcrumb Trail, (the title was taken from the album’s opening track) a film chronicling Slint’s intense recording sessions for Spiderland, the strange Louisville music scene they emerged from and the album’s lasting legacy. The film unearths heaps of unseen performance and recording footage and features interviews with members of the band and indie rock luminaries like Steve Albini, Ian MacKaye, James Murphy, Matt Sweeny and others. Drusky Entertainment brings this documentary looking at one the 90s most important albums to Dormont’s Hollywood Theater for an exclusive, one night only showing Saturday, April 19th at 7:30pm. Tickets are available now at Drusky’s website. (1449 Potomac Ave, Dormont, www.hollywooddormont.org)
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Society for Contemporary Craft

Society for Contemporary Craft

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