One thing we can say with certainty regarding 2011 is that it’s been a great year for music in the Pgh. We started NakYouOut with one objective – to showcase the burgeoning arts, entertainment and cultural scene in this beautiful city. Our goal was to shed the yinzer-esque image our city has been branded with over the years. We aren’t just a sports town, we’re a city of dreamers, creators and exceptional talent. As NYO’s editor and primary visionary alongside the lovely Nakturnal bosslady Leigh Yock, I can say that the task of running a site has been far more daunting than I could ever imagine. It has also been equally as rewarding, thanks to you, our loyal readers and friends. I’ve had my share of compliments and criticisms since the site’s inception. I would like to personally thank each of you who have taken the time to recognize our efforts in a positive manner. At the end of the day, this is about giving back to the Pgh community. We wouldn’t be so inspired to do what we do if we weren’t surrounded by the beautiful minds of the creatives in this city.
Today is the one-year anniversary of our first post on NYO. We would like to use this as an opportunity to reflect upon some of our favorite moments of 2011. We hope to have spread the love equally, but if there’s anyone we might have forgot, please know we’ll be sending you even more love in 2012 in some shape or form. I’m sure there are some fantastic moments that happened in 2011 that we might not have witnessed, but we do our best to support whoever we can when we can! Without further adieu, I present to you a very subjective 2011 Year In Review. A lot of these moments are personal favorites of mine. A lot of them deserve some extra recognition. Here’s to you, Pgh!
Ah, VIA. What to say that hasn’t already been said about this forward-thinking group of talented individuals who have been bringing innovative artists to the Pgh for two years now? From the likes of Onra, In Flagranti and Big Freedia to Gatekeeper, Teengirl Fantasy, Omar-S and the slew of amazing acts that graced the stage at this year’s VIA festival, these cats are who you turn to when you want an adventure. You can count on VIA to keep the scene fresh, grooming Pgh for the next big thing on the festival circuit. VIA has proven that all it takes is a vision and dedication to pursue your dream for a city that deserves much more than being known as a blue-collar sports town. Memorable VIA Presents moment: Omar-S, Gatekeeper
Runner Up: Down and Derby
Our pal Vince Masi has been providing the Pgh with a quality skating event over the years with his brilliant Down & Derby roller skating party, which takes place every last Saturday of the month at Belvederes. The event has become so popular that its expanded to multiple cities such as Denver, Las Vegas, Boston, New York and LA. Down and Derb was even featured on an episode of MTV’s Real World this year and had a stage at Coachella. Makin’ moves is an understatement!
Honorable Mention: Classic Material
One of the only (if not the only) hip-hop nights in the city, Classic Material has been throwing down for four years now, schooling your ass on hip-hop classics and then some. Resident deejays Selecta and SMI know how to make the booty drop at the Shadow Lounge without falling victim to that top-40 BS. If you’re a hip-hop head in the Pgh, this event is a must! And if you aren’t, check this shiz out pronto and stop listening to those stale Fergie songs you have no idea why you like.
Techno collective Humanaut has been throwing down in the Pgh for quite some time now, always producing top-notch, quality events with some of the best DJs/producers in the scene today. From their yearly Halloween parties, DVS1 to Donato Dozzy to Jus-Ed, their reputation as taste makers has blossomed into a new monthly, Out Of Order. This event will serve up round two next month – an all-vinyl showcase featuring Infinite State Machine. Memorable Humanaut Moment: Claude Young VS Shawn Rudiman
Runner Up: Lazercrunk
Remember that one time Girltalk came to Lazercrunk completely unannounced and threw down a set? I sure as hell do, and that’s what I’ve come to expect each month at Lazercrunk – the unexpected. From B.Bravo to Clicks & Whistles, Cosmic Revenge and Udachi, Lazercrunk thinks outside of the box each and every month to deliver a truly unique experience. Resident deejays Keeb$ and Cutups are well-known throughout the Pgh for curating an always-bumpin party experience that in my opinion, is the most accessible of many deejay nights in the Pgh. Memorable Lazercrunk Moment: The aforementioned Girltalk set, which was pre-NYO. Deal with it!
Honorable Mention: Get Weird!
As former resident door gal for this party, I can say with confidence that they always get people through the door, no matter how off-the-wall or random the theme. From 3-D, to zombie to white trash to anything goes editions, Get Weird! has been showcasing some of the best party deejays the Pgh has to offer. Residents DIZCREPNNC and Cucitroa deserve mad props for curating this new monthly that has certainly delivered in 2011.
As if this booking weren’t fantastic enough (Little Dragon at Shadow – WTF!) the band delivered a fantastic performance from start to finish. I saw Little Dragon at Movement 2011, and it didn’t even come close to the caliber of performance that was delivered at the sold-out show that night. I was right up front, the energy was incredible, and Little Dragon proved that they’re the best kept secret in music today. We were lucky enough to benefit from this fact, as they would be far too big for Shadow if people would get on board and realize what’s up! With collabs on Gorillaz, SBTRKT and Drake tracks, expect big thangs from Little Dragon in 2012.
Runner Up: Gang Gang Dance
This concert experience was memorable for multiple reasons. I have a tendency to go to concerts based off of hearing one song. My curiosity factor is high, and if I think a track is solid enough, I’m confident the rest of a band’s repertoire will be just as promising. Having heard Gang Gang Dance’s MindKilla, I decided to give this one a go. The voice alone reminded me of Karin from The Knife/Fever Ray, but holy hell, the musical styles are totally different. Nguzunguzu opened the evening with some straight up weirdness. So strange in fact, that my friends who came to see GGD left before their set because they were so confused and drained. Those of us who stuck around were rewarded with the most surprisingly bangin’, sweaty, energetic dance party I’ve ever experienced on a Sunday night.
Honorable Mention: Cults
It is rare when a band can deliver as solid of a vocal performance as they do on an album. With so much remastering and tweaking these days, I don’t get my hopes up. I wasn’t crazy about Cults at first. Their first single “Go Outside” was Best New Music-ed by Pitchfork and I didn’t even like it. The rest of their album is solid, however, earning a BNM nom in its entirety as well. Rather than re-hash what’s already been said, just check out the review I did a while back to relive this experience.
Bedroom pop was a popular term in 2011, sharing its identity with artists such as How to Dress Well, Active Child and Youth Lagoon. I immediately thought of HTDW after hearing Wise Blood. They possess one fundamental difference – Wise Blood is batshit crazy. I wasn’t there, but recall hearing about an incident in which he got kicked offstage during a performance in the South Side. He’s gained praise from many popular indie media outlets and landed a spot at this year’s CMJ. Expect him to gain momentum in 2012.
Runner Up: 1,2,3
No strangers to NakYouOut, 1,2,3 has been making moves this year in the Pgh and beyond. They have gained national attention this year with their breakthrough release New Heaven, which has landed them gigs at CMJ and other impressive stages across the country. They are signed to Frenchkiss Records, a label they share with the likes of The Hold Steady, Passion Pit and Local Natives. Expect a lot of 1,2,3 on the blog this year, as they’re part of our Iron City Sound Ambassadors program!
Honorable Mention: Pittsburgh Track Authority
PTA has been all over the blog as of recent. We just did an interview with some of the band mates last week. Humanaut’s Paul Fleetwood put together a nice podcast featuring some of their songs, and Mr. Dreamboat named one of their tracks one of his top 50 of 2011. We’re looking forward to what these cats take on in 2012.
I found this interview to be more difficult to do than most I’ve done before because of my relationship with Aaron. I wanted to do him the justice he deserves. We kinda dove right into the interview process without knowing what we were doing and so far, it has turned out quite well. Proving this fact to the max is the one and only Aaron Clark of Humanaut and the newly-launched Eighty Agency. With over 100 “likes” on Facebook and counting, this was not only our most read interview to-date, but our most viewed post of the year! It got over 400 reads in a 3-day period. Way to be popular, Aaron! You can read the interview in full here.
Runner Up: Modeselektor
If you recall, Modeselektor played Identity Festival this past summer and were one of the main reasons we attended. I decided to have a kegs and eggs-type gathering at my house before the fest which turned into me downing about two bottles of champagne before we even got there. On the way, we got a call about interviewing Modeselektor and I was both terrified and excited at the same time. We hadn’t done many interviews period, let alone with such a big name as Modeselektor. I didn’t have anything prepared. Hell, I didn’t even have a tape recorder. As if my amateur status couldn’t get any worse, I was half drunk! Needless to say, the interview turned out quite well, we got to hang out in their trailer for a bit and brush elbows with quite possibly the most “famous” people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting thus far with the blog. For as inexperienced as we were, I think it turned out as well as it could have.
Honorable Mention: Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys
Aside from Junior Boys creating one of my favorite songs of all time, “In the Morning“, these cats are super down to earth and talented. It also helps that Jeremy hands-down has one of the sexiest singing voices I’ve ever heard in my life. Not only was their gig at Altar Bar fantastic (it almost made my top concerts list), meeting one of my favorite bands was a huge plus. It was nice to be able to talk to a musician of that caliber about artists we both appreciate, as our tastes are very similar. Don’t believe me? Read it here.
I wrote this review during a very tumultuous time personally for me in 2011. I was having trouble focusing on the blog, and found myself in DC at a conference with not much else to do during my down time than hang out in my hotel room. I wrote this review in a space free of distractions. I should really try that more often, as I feel though it’s my strongest review to-date. I find reviewing shows to be my biggest weakness, so receiving so much positive feedback on this piece was very encouraging. I think I captured the essence of the performance well, as Big Freedia represents a lot more than just a booty-shakin’ good time. Relive the experience here.
Runner Up: The Joy Formidable at The Smiling Moose
We’ve gotta show guest contributor Patrick Bowman some love. You might recognize the name from his own blog, Speed of the Pittsburgh Sound, which is how I discovered the fella. He also writes for legit publications too, like the City Paper, Post-Gazette and even Paper Mag. We’re lucky enough to have his words on our blog from time to time, so we got together and decided his review of The Joy Formidable at The Smiling Moose back in April was our fave.
Since we couldn’t decide on just one, we had to break it down.
Favorite Venue to See a National Act: Stage AE
I’m running the risk of seeming partial here, but I firmly believe that Stage AE‘s presence was absolutely needed in the Pgh and will open doors for the city that we didn’t think were possible before. We’ve talked a lot about the smaller promoters in the city grooming the market for an upgrade, but if anyone’s responsible for attracting acts that wouldn’t otherwise hit the Pgh, it’s PromoWest. If you haven’t seen a show here yet, do it. The outdoor stage is particularly fantastic. The indoor stage has great sight lines, and with a capacity of only 2300, you can still see a big-time act without having to use binoculars.
Favorite Venue to Get Kicked Out Of: Brillobox
Let’s face it, we all know someone who has been banned from the b-box. What you might not know, is I’m one of them. What was once my favorite bar and place to see live music is now a distant memory. I don’t even know what to say about the subject without sounding ridiculously snarky. They’ve kicked the hipster princess out of her castle. Time to find a new one.
Favorite Venue to Feel At Home: Shadow Lounge
The Shadow Lounge has been one of my favorite spots in the Pgh for a long time. Way before I got into electronic music, way before I met my Nakturnal family, way before I had any clue that Pgh had any kind of decent “scene”, I knew I could count on this place for quality programming. We mentioned these cats during our 30/30 rampage, and the same still holds true today – between the diversity of programming and the friendly staff, you’ll always be welcome at the Shadow Lounge.
Favorite Multi-purpose Venue: Belvederes Ultra-Dive
Whether you’re face down in a vat of pudding, skating to some jams, rocking out to 80s music each Thursday, getting your face melted off via a huge LED light board or grunging it up to some metal, Belvederes proves that all you need is the proper amount of space to host a variety of bad-ass events. With cheap drinks, the ideal Lawrenceville location, and Lee and crew, what more can you ask for in a venue?
Just when you thought you wanted this post to be over…just when you thought I had nothing more to say, I smack ya in the face with my three top moments of 2011. To me, these three occasions were a no-brainer. I had these picked out before I even mapped out this post. Here are my very biased, very personal, favorite three moments of 2011.
Not only is this my top concert moment of 2011, it is my top concert moment ever. I go to an obscene amount of concerts between working at a venue and doing this blog. My avid concert attending is what lead me on this career path. I’ve never in my life been at a show that has captivated me so much. In particular, FaltyDL, who I deemed my “favorite new deejay” after hearing him and subsequently stalking him and all of his music online. To follow up an amazing new music experience with the legendary Four Tet, paired with visuals by Abstract Birds was mind-blowing. All of this without even a buzz – fantastic. Drugs and alcohol can take your senses to new heights so you get more pleasure out of the music, but I can say wholeheartedly that it was completely unnecessary on this occasion. I didn’t leave the front of the stage at The Rex until Battles came on – another powerful performance for the night, all without the use of their lead vocalist. I doubt I have a concert experience that measures up to this for a very, very long time.
As part of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater‘s Sunstar Women in Music Festival, Shara Worden AKA My Brightest Diamond performed to a sold-out crowd at the Shadow Lounge back in March. I was surprised the event sold out, to be honest, as I don’t know too many MBD fans. I managed to find some people to tag along regardless, and we were collectively floored. I got chills listening to Shara’s voice, which is definitely one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard live (alongside Austra). At the risk of being long-winded, just head over to the review I did a while back and read my thoughts. Definitely the biggest jaw-dropper of 2011.
You might remember Nakturnal’s 4th of July Barge Party from 2010. That was a pain in the ass to pull off, so in an effort to maintain the party spirits of the previous year, Leigh and collaborators thought it would be a nice idea to rent a boat for the holiday. Not only was it a complete blast, to anyone else who happened to stumble upon our party boat, it was total hilarity. I remember hearing they were filming a show for PBS on the Regatta and the boat happened to show up in one of the shots that aired on TV. Between that and docking on the North Shore to watch families rave out along with us, 4th of July 2011 was off the chain.
Upon compiling this list, I realize how much NakYouOut has grown over the past year. I am grateful for the opportunity to cover such amazing shows in such an amazing city. I began this process wanting to start a music blog, but I just don’t have the time. I’d also like to take the opportunity to shout out our music editor, Clark Price, for his NakNoise contributions over the past year. He has excellent taste in music and we enjoy hosting his recommendations. If you haven’t had a chance to check out his year-end list, do it! We’re looking forward to an even better 2012, seeing the Pgh music scene grow to its full potential, and partying to the max along the way. Thanks again, everyone, for a great 2011. It has been a true pleasure.