Sunday, July 27, 2008

the open thread's variety show, feat. dave bernabo & assembly

Last night after a few days of work-induced insanity I went to the Brillobox to see Dave Bernabo & Assembly play. Pleasant surprise -- the band was playing as a part of Open Thread's Variety show.

I was glad to be there to support; mixed bill shows are notoriously hard to get audience for. This one had a sunny fun feel light on the caustic see-and-be-seen vibe that can sometimes poison parties in Pittsburgh. Drag diva Sharon Needles blew my work stress away with a high-camp Rocky Horror cover re-sewn into Pittsburgh clothing. Not to mention her Pittsburgh Prostitute - astute social critique from a yinzer service-girl in a Steelers jersey.

Artists had a couple of tables modestly attired with collage, photography, and book arts available for sale. I picked up Austin English's Windy Corner Magazine #2, an assemblage-zine with high production values featuring capsule comics, artist interviews, and comic commentary, from Austin himself.

Then there's what I came for ... Here's how Assembly looks:

Owl Barnes/drums

Dave Bernabo/guitar, vox (right)

Chris James/ bass (left)

Brandon Masterman /sax

Daniel Newman/guitar, backing vox
(right, behind Dave)

As to what they sounded like ....

They play highly structured improv spread over complicated rhythm. Its funny to think of Mr. Bernabo as a jazz band leader from the 40's, but its really his role, from my perspective. Each of the artists has an intensely developed skill-set that is featured at different moments in the music's vocabulary. The band strikes the perfect balance of group-produced structure and individual improv. "Smart" music that keeps you moving, complicated sound woven with muscular rhythm.

As usual we couldn't hear the vocals over the Brillobox's system (when are they going to fix that?) but its such a good time, who really cares? DJ Victor Hugonaut set up to close the night with the inevitable dance party. I made my escape.

... Jessica Fenlon

1 comment:

Adam Atkinson said...

Hooray Open Thread! Thanks for writing about our event - we do try to avoid the caustic hipster vibe you so aptly described.

Hope we see you again - and check out our website at