When it opened in 1999, the Mr. Roboto Project in Wilkinsburg was the plan of a small group of punk rockers with a certain set of ideals, inspired by New York's ABC No Rio, Berkeley's 924 Gilman, and Dischord Records. Both a venue and space for promoting DIY and radical ideals, Roboto has hosted the likes of Explosions in the Sky, Against Me! and Ted Leo. It has also nurtured projects including The Big Idea radical bookstore and Free Ride, the bike repair project, in the next-door space dubbed The Multi-Tool.
At the end of this month, the drug- and alcohol-free DIY venue is closing its Wilkinsburg location as it scouts out real estate elsewhere.
"We'd like to grow more, and the current space is kind of stagnant," says current board member Alyssa Truszkowski. "We think that adding new facets to the venue could improve membership." She says the goal is to find a more accessible location, and a venue with the capacity for mid-level shows. "But we'd like the space to be multi-use, so we can host community events and maintain an intimate feel," she adds.
In 2002, the venue toyed with a larger space nearby, but Roboto II didn't last long, and soon the shows were back at the 722 Wood St. location. Since then, the search for another space has continued. It has turned up a few viable leads, though no papers have been signed yet.
Greg Kamerdze, who served on the board (which is elected by Roboto members, who also serve as the space's show promoters), plays one of the last shows at the space. On Sat., Feb. 27, he appears with his band Warzone Womyn, now defunct but re-forming for the send-off.
"Warzone Womyn's members have all been on the board of Roboto," he says. "In a way I feel like it's the parents burying their child, which is always a tragedy, they say," Kamerdze notes with a mischievous touch.
"I think it needs to change to avoid getting stagnant," he adds. "So I'm happy that the people involved are taking steps to make that happen."
The final weekend at Roboto -- Feb. 26-28 -- features four blockbuster shows, including a Saturday matinee that doubles as a record swap and open house. More information on those shows, and Roboto's plan for the future, is available at www.therobotoproject.org or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.