The Soft Moon Rises at Cattivo (PGH)

the soft moon-3If anyone was doubting the veritable depth of Pittsburgh’s music scene, last Friday at Cattivo would have erased any lingering concerns. Two incredible local bands and a helluva touring band in the form of the Soft Moon showed why Cattivo’s basement stage is one of the best venues in Pittsburgh. Besides the more-than-difficult parking situation surrounding the bar, Cattivo hosts events on two floors, often in the same night, and has enough bar top to serve a huge volume of people. Throw in a tight sound system and room to breathe and you have a high-caliber locale, which is probably why mid-size touring groups like Titus Andronicus, Waxahatchee, and Craig Finn of the Hold Steady are stopping at this Lawrenceville spot on their national tours. With the right booking and promotion, it’s set to add a new destination for progressive indie bands in addition to Brillobox or Club Cafe.

Supporting the Soft Moon was local opener the Garment District featuring Jennifer Baron onthe garment district-2 keyboards. Devotees of Merge Records might remember her name from the sunshiney indie pop band the Ladybug Transistor, whose Brooklyn-based analog twee-warbles positioned Baron to take a lead approach to this new group. The Garment District has a somewhat-rotating cast of on-stage performers. Saturday had Sean Finn (The Red Western, Stutter Steps) playing drums after only two weeks of rehearsal. Dan Koshute (Dazzletine) stepped into the spotlight with lead vocal and guitar duties. There were times when each member looked to different members, perhaps for support, asking, “Are we doing this right?” Were it not for the bright lights beaming back, they needed only to look into the audience, as the crowd gently swayed to the hypnotic droning of multiple keyboards and fuzz guitar. At once approaching Kraut-rock frenetics, the band would swerve into 60s California Spector-rock and then AM Gold pop before careening back into terrestrial psychedelia.

the gotobeds-3Pittsburgh’s brattiest Sub Pop punks Gotobeds followed with their Iron City take on New York club punk. Sing-a-long choruses with monster hooks paired with the group’s stage antics: beer gargling, ice throwing, light smashing. Tuff with two middle fingers define the band whose more wrangled moments are not unlike the Swell Maps or more straightforward Talking Heads, but think more contemporary influences like Protomartyr or Parquet Courts if you’re *ahem* into reading music blogs. Anyways, lead singer Eli/Hazy Lazer will be a familiar face to Pittsburgh punks who followed Kim Phuc. Glad to see Lazer and Co. will be pursuing their dreams of stardom on Sub Pop records (record will be out this summer).

Ending the night was Oakland, CA, band the Soft Moon. Its cold, 80s goth-inspired post-punk the soft moon-5sent Pittsburgh on its way into the rest of the weekend with programmed drums and distorted synthesizers providing a pummeling finish to the night, cascading into reverberated lead vocals from singer Luis Vasquez who split time between the keyboard and his washed out Fender Jazzmaster. If you took New Order and Nine Inch Nails, mixed them up and put skinny jeans on what came out, you’d probably find something like Vasquez’s Soft Moon. Relentless rhythm and swirling lead keys filled Cattivo’s basement stage with blue light; at times I felt like I was fighting to stay afloat in the deep end of a cold pool.

Listen below and check out our photos of the night below. All images © Lukas R Truckenbrod & Pop Press International; all rights reserved. Click any image to open in slideshow viewer.


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