YouTube was Time magazine's invention of the year. So how much has Pittsburgh's music scene contributed to this global frenzy of imagery? Turns out a few artists, like Rusted Root, Don Caballero and Anti-Flag have loads of entries, but otherwise, we're a little behind.
Sure, there are three videos The Modey Lemon produced for their albums on Mute/Birdman; Pitchfork Media's clip from Girl Talk's ass-bumping set at Chicago's Empty Bottle; a snippet from the Weird Paul documentary; and action shots from Pyramid Scheme's 7-inch release at Roboto. But other than live footage from at Mr. Small's -- the likes of Kilowatt, Transition and Dollface Divine -- smaller local venues are represented by only a handful of samples, some barely watchable.
A welcome exception is the work of "Midgetroom," also known IRL as Rob-Bob Walters. Up north, he followed hardcore bands and attended a school for pro wrestling. "In Canada, I was named Malachai, after the Courtney Gaines character in Children of the Corn. And in Buffalo, I wrestled as Leech -- a homeless gutter punk."
Moving to Pittsburgh to study video production at the Art Institute, Walters hit the clubs to document punk, hardcore and metal bands. So far, he's completed more than 55 videos, mostly live clips including Caustic Christ at 31st Street Pub, Motorpsychos at the Rex, Radio Beats at the Rock Room, and Behind Enemy Lines at the old Brave New World store. Now making ends meet as a valet while job-hunting, Walters keeps busy uploading new videos of F.L.A.K. and the Ultimatics, and finishing practice films for the roller derby. He's progressing toward his goal of hour-long tour videos.
It's all done with a simple Canon GL1 camera, an external mic, and quite a bit of post-production. "I adjust the EQ on the audio and use Final Cut Pro to put color correction on it. Without that, it just looks like shit." Walters also offers some tips: Gen Y has a short attention span, so post only short, one-song clips; the best way to get views is to provide links on the band's Web site and MySpace page; and don't bother with cover tunes. "People come across a band that they've never heard before doing a cover song, and they don't give that band a chance."
He also wonders why, besides one other local named "Hellsells," YouTube enthusiasts aren't out with their cameras at the smaller venues -- the very locations where such documentation is both most needed and most encouraged. "In this city, there are so many graduates in video production from schools here, you'd think more people would want to do this. Maybe people just haven't thought about it."