Admit it: A Monday night in Pittsburgh is pretty meat-and-potatoes if you're Kasabian. The UK buzz band demonstrated a certain wry contempt -- and the transforming power of a great light show -- while playing a half-full Mr. Small's last week. Drawing material from the new Empire and some self-described "classics," the band's unruly mix of T-Rex boogie and The Verve's frigid grooves worked best when they just flat-out aped The Verve. Eyes closed, you'd hardly know it wasn't Richard Ashcroft up there. You'd also hardly know it was live band -- Kasabian clearly played to an elaborate backing track.
Openers Men Women & Children did a decent job of warming up the restrained crowd, with frantic, candy-coated disco-on-ecstasy jams that sounded a bit like The Strokes trying to recreate Off the Wall.
Speaking of classic Michael, seems like you always hear the same couple hits at small Pittsburgh dance parties. That held true yet again on Saturday at Gimmick, a new monthly party on the third floor of Ray's Marlin Beach, in Lawrenceville. The night featured a nice blend of retro club tracks with a little hip hop and Euro techno, and good people. If you've never been up to the third floor of this funky Butler Street nightspot, it's like a house party at a friend's (clean) home -- well, one with a little bar and bartender. Keep an eye out for this one next month. Pros: You're unlikely to be groped in the dark by a stranger. Cons: same.
Jack Erdie, Brad Yoder and free beer were the main attractions at WYEP's Third Thursdays event last week. The free series features area musicians performing at the radio station's relatively new facility on the South Side's Bedford Square, where it has also lately hosted guests like Cowboy Junkies and Richard Hell. Erdie's jovial stage banter and strong voice earned him a warm response, while the bluntness of his material took a little getting used to -- almost like you'd asked a friend some simple questions, and the responses happened to rhyme. Accompanied by upright bass, Brad Yoder played songs from his new disc, Someday or Never, out early next year; he took advantage of the crowded night to sell off a few copies ahead of schedule.
Third Thursdays takes a break for December; keep an eye out for Shade in January, Sonji in February, and in March, Jon Check. The concert series is also available as a podcast at http://wyep.org/podcasts.