On the seventh of June, the greater Pittsburgh area gained a new concert venue tailored towards locals. The inaugural show at Broken Plow combined the efforts of First Angel Media, Three Rivers Music Therapy, Creatures and Creep Rods, and Broken Plow Western Martial Arts, and acted as a benefit for Soothing Sensations Music Therapy Groups.
The venue itself is located off of route 28 in Creighton, PA. The building was once used as a church, which has both positive and negative connotations. Due to the high ceiling, there was an echo. It didn’t very much affect the music itself, but reared its head in between songs as bands attempted to engage with the audience. All-in-all, the sound was fine and what problems there were could be fixed for future events.
The aesthetic of the building provides what I believe to be a good atmosphere for a show. The stage is small, but it does well as a drum platform while the rest of the band sets up on the floor below. While this may be inconvenient for some, it provides an intimate experience between the bands and the audience. The stained-glass windows and religious decor make for an interesting paradox for heavier bands, and when the lights are turned down the atmosphere becomes somewhat haunting.
Let’s get to the music.
The show kicked off with a set from Norwin-based pop-punk act On Your Nerves. Playing through a set of covers containing some pop-punk essentials including Green Day’s “Welcome to Paradise,” Blink-182’s “Aliens Exist,” and New Found Glory’s “My Friend’s Over You,” along with a rendition of “Paranoid,” by Black Sabbath, the band showcased their growing musical abilities and pogoed across the stage like Mark Hoppus himself. Caleb Andrykovich (guitar, vocals) displayed a good vocal range that will only get better with time.
Feast on the Fallen played next. Hailing from the greater Pittsburgh area, they felt right at home and wasted no time on niceties before beginning their assault. Heavy riffs and guttural chaos swirled through the room from the first note; they delivered a high-energy performance that included small incidents of faux-violence and an on-going, epic battle with a baseball cap. At times quick and aggressive, and at others, a deliberate and calculated beatdown of the senses, invoking the need to punch a cute animal until it’s bones crack and blood spurts from its fresh wounds. Metaphorically, of course.
Next on the bill was Wheeling metalcore band Durandal. Despite a mold incident earlier in the day, vocalist Joey Nelson shifted seamlessly between fierce growls and clean vocals that showed off an impressive range. Throughout the set, the band switched gears multiple times, jumping from pulsing riffs to more melodic passages; the songs felt like journeys, each one interesting and unpredictable. Somewhere during the set, Nelson also got the children involved. Rev Johann would not approve of this, but I must say, it warmed my heart.
The fourth band of the night was Pittsburgh-based metal band Skarlett Sky. With riffs that were equal parts heavy and catchy, their sound was reminiscent of eighties and nineties metal bands such as Alice In Chains and groove-metal pioneers, Pantera. While there were certainly aspects of their music that you can recognize and appreciate, they’re more than just a throwback. They’re a blending of old and new, and with an enthusiastic stage presence from each member, their live shows are easy to enjoy. Rumbling vocals from Nick Musick invoke in the listener the array of emotions that is apparent their songs. Their work on the fretboards was precise and in-sync with drummer Ash Kleer, and the biggest takeaway was that they genuinely enjoy playing together. It seems like a simple statement, sure, but one that manifests itself into growth as a band.
The final performance of the night was Aspirant, a self-described blackened hardcore band out of New Bethlehem, and I must say, they were definitely worth the wait. Having heard their music before seeing them live (and not really paying much attention to the lineup), I would never have guessed that three members could make something that heavy. They came in with speed (that reminded me of crust punk, for some reason) and went through a range of tempos and ambient transitions that made me anxious for what would come next. In the closing moments of their final song, (guitarist/vocalist) Dillon Giesler’s hand was illuminated by a stage light, and for a few seconds, it was moving with a rhythmic quickness that was mesmerizing.
Between each set, guests were entertained by armored sword fighters. That’s right, sword fighters. While some snuck outside for a cigarette, others looked on in anticipation. The air was filled with the sound of metal crashing against metal, of the hastened footsteps of the participants as they tried to avoid the chaos the audience longed for. It was dramatic. It was competitive. It added a sort of aura to the night that otherwise would have been missed.
All-in-all, I would deem the first show at Broken Plow a success. There were a couple of issues with the sound, but nothing that is impossible to fix for future events. The lineup was solid and consisted of bands that I’m willing to give up time and money to see again. The overall look and feel of the building, to me, was fantastic. It was a little odd, but oddities seem to be the things we remember the most.