It might be the dorkiest thing you've ever heard of -- or just what a local band needs to reach a larger, tech-savvy audience. Performing last Friday at Mr. Small's Theatre with The Takeover UK, Pittsburgh-based indie-pop band Good Night, States debuted a new kind of audience interaction: Anyone with an iPhone could plug into an interface at the front of the stage and "play" along with the band on select songs through the venue's sound system.
It's a bit more complicated than that. First, iPhone users had to download an $8.99 Noise.io app that the band's vocalist and guitarist, Steve Gretz, had customized. As the band played, users could control pre-selected synth sounds that resembled those on the band's most recent album, Short Films on Self-Control.
It's a long way from handing out tambourines to the front row, but it's also not as visceral. Unless you're the one holding the iPhone -- or know every synth squiggle on the recordings -- you might not even realize it's happening, apart from the occasional bemused expression from the musicians onstage as an unexpected flurry of notes sounds out.
The experiment, which Gretz introduced prior to the show via YouTube, was picked up by popular tech blog www.engadget.com, and has spread from there. Perhaps it's not so much a musical event as a publicity stunt for our times, but if it means a local group trying something new and snagging some much-deserved attention -- I'm all for it.
In a move that comes as no surprise, Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa has finally severed ties with Warner Bros., the label that initially signed him more than two years ago, and had yet to release his debut album.
According to a publicist for Rostrum Records, the Pittsburgh-based label that initially launched Khalifa's career and continues to represent him, the newly independent rapper has plenty to keep him busy: a forthcoming mixtape and single, "Teach U To Fly," and extensive touring both now and in the fall. You'll know more when we do.
Speaking of Pittsburgh music stars, mashup artist Girl Talk is playing his first area show since November, headlining the Amphitheatre at Station Square on Fri., July 31. Anyone who witnessed Girl Talk's last show -- an epic blowout at the Gravity Nightclub, in Cheswick -- should be psyched that he's taking the party outside.
Personally, I'm more excited about seeing some of the opening acts on the big stage, a Who's Who of the local scene: Grand Buffet, Modey Lemon, Don Caballero, Centipede E'est, Donora, DJ Kendall and of course Khalifa. If you're only going to do one thing right this summer ...