Drivers heading Downtown on Bigelow Boulevard last Friday night caught a glimpse of something gloriously surreal -- and I'm not talking about French-Fry Park. Facing the Bigelow traffic in the parking lot of the Machine Age recording studio, last week's CP cover-boys Centipede Eest played the first of two album-release shows for an appreciative crowd that included everyone from local musicians and music-scene regulars to tots.
Opening the show, in the greenish glare of flickering fluorescent lights, was Raw Blow, headed up by Dirty Faces frontman Terry Carroll, a.k.a. T-Glitter. For each song, the band laid down an obscure soulful, surfy sample, adding live upright bass, drums and electronic squeals, as T-Glitter stalked the perimeter with the mic. The effect was not unlike a (ahem) raw, Pittsburghian take on the Danger Mouse sound. In between sets, Edgar Um kept up the rattle-trap grooves and weirdness on the turntables, as bundled-up attendees browsed a spread of kabobs and chips, and quaffed PBRs.
Centipede's tight set featured cuts from the band's new record Confluence, and its trademark slashing guitar interplay, off-kilter lyrics and insistent grooves. If the band didn't seem to go all-out for the outdoor show, the members had ample reason to keep some energy in reserve. Moments after finishing their set, they loaded up for the second show of the night, around the corner at Gooski's.
While some doubtless followed the band into Polish Hill, I veered off to the Shadow Lounge to check out Rhyme Calisthenics. The game-show/emcee-battle drew a fun, wall-to-wall crowd that alternately cheered, laughed and, in some instances, booed loudly as local emcees freestyled on topics determined by spinning the "Wheel of Skillz" (including, memorably, duct tape and athlete's foot spray).
It seems I made a wise choice, according to our correspondent on this busy Friday night in the 'Burgh: "Dude, you picked the right Centipede show to go to," writes frequent CP contributor Margaret Welsh. "I've never seen Gooski's so packed, I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. It was weird."
While Centipede's free outdoor set didn't top the apocalyptic bacchanal of Midnite Snake's legendary 2007 show at Iron Eden -- at least in terms of sheer numbers and insanity -- it definitely delivered as a last outdoor show of this season, up there with the performance by Japanther and others earlier this summer in the Carnegie Museum of Art's courtyard. As we head into winter hibernation -- and try to figure out whether to quit smoking already or brave the cold outside our newly smoke-free venues -- here's hoping next spring brings more of these one-of-a-kind, celebratory shows in non-traditional venues.