Just as the post-holiday, winter doldrums, snowy-cold malaise begins to truly take hold, the exhilarating prospect of a new year worth of quality shows begins to materialize. None more promising than the solid line up the Brillobox has ready for Saturday as Pitchfork darlings Bear in Heaven make a mid winter pit stop in the steel city along with orchestral pop manufacturers Freelance Whales, and local scene mainstays Mariage Blanc.
While there really isn’t a shortage of shows across the city, there does seem to be a shortage of quality national tours making there way through the northeast, mid-Atlantic, and rust-belt regions that would make Pittsburgh a target. Regardless, the next few months seem to be heating up concert wise (can you say St.Vincent at Diesel on the 21st of February), and Saturday’s show is a great place to start. Tracks and write ups after the jump.
Bear In Heaven takes the spartan, marching synth lines of Krautrock and runs it through a contemporary indie-prog filter, formulating a sound that can shimmer with chemically enhanced harmonies while harboring nihilistic undertones. The group’s latest Beast Rest Forth Mouth is a bit of an opus, cashing in on highlights like “Lovesick Teenagers” and the simmering coda “Casual Goodbye.” I’m expecting a lot, this concert has a chance to be epic even within the friendly confines of the Brillobox’s second floor. Sound tech guy, don’t let me down.
Freelance Whales are cut from an entirely different cloth, starting with their indie folk by way of world music, not unlike the sound that Devotchka became known for, incorporating harmoniums, banjos, glockenspiels, synthesizers and waterphones while crafting waltz-like compositions. The Queens, NY natives have released their latest album Weathervanes online, with the physical LP coming on March 16. “Generator ^ 2nd Floor” is a great example of the band’s strengths, especially lead singer Judah Dadone’s voice that has a youthful but cunning tone, polished and ready to impress.
Mariage Blanc – Contrary to Popular Belief
Mariage Blanc made a big Pittsburgh splash in 2008 with their premier Broken Record EP, a record that possessed what I think is the steel city’s version of “Eleanor Rigby”, “Contrary To Popular Belief.” I described the song as such in a track revue way back in May: “A novel’s worth of emotion radiates from the quiet strings, elegiac vocals and little production touches that make the ‘Contrary To Popular Belief’ shimmer with nuance and depth.” The group is currently set to begin recording their follow up later this month and is prepared to show off a slew of new tracks at Saturday’s show. I’ve never seen these guys live and it will be a pleasure to hear that track in person.