The semi-nomadic, sort-of pop-up VIA Festival, which takes place each fall at a number of venues across town, has announced that its main-event venue this year will be the Union Trust Building, the Osterling-designed building at Grant Street and Fifth Avenue. It marks the first time the art-and-music festival has had its main venue Downtown; the first festival, in 2010, took place in the Strip District, and each festival from 2011-2013 took place in a different spot in East Liberty.
"It was partly a conscious choice and partly getting really lucky" to come into an arrangment to use the 99-year-old building, which was purchased recently by Davis Companies, says festival cofounder Lauren Goshinski, who adds that the introduction between the two parties came through the mayor's office.
Two floors of the building will be used for VIA festivities on Sat., Oct. 4, from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m., in what Goshinski describes as the festival event that most integrates visual and time-based arts with music offerings. A "digital sculpture gallery" and an "immersive audio-visual environment" will occupy the first floor, while a basement floor that contains a never-used garage space will be converted into a club; music acts there will include Zebra Katz, Blue Hawaii, L-Vis 1990, Traxman, Cakes da Killa, Cities Aviv, Diode Millampere and local solo artist Troxum.
VIA events take place throughout the city all week, from Oct. 1-Oct. 5. At the same time the mainstage events take place at the Union Trust building Saturday night, there will be satellite events at the Rex Theater and Honcho, in the Strip.
VIA will bring more cutting-edge music and art to a part of town known more for high culture and commerce. "People still don't associate Downtown with a lot of the kind of activity people expect from a city's downtown," notes Goshinski. While the past three events were in East Liberty, she says VIA has never had a permanent home and was never meant to; all parts of town are fair game.
Once largely the province of electronic music and new-media arts, VIA has expanded to include everything from rap to hardcore and indie rock. Non-show events include an all-day music conference at CMU on Fri., Oct. 3, featuring several of the artists performing, and a workshop with Ableton, creator of one of the most widely used music-sequencer softwares. A full list of artists and activities associated with the festival — from the main event to shows in venues across town over all five days — visit the festival's website at www.via2014.com.