I have always done my best work from behind the lens, not from a keyboard. My thoughts jumble, I feel lost, weaving through the chaos of my mind. That’s how I felt as I was being led by my husband through the endlessly crowded weekend evening blocks of E. Carson St. last Saturday night, on my way to cover a show at the Smiling Moose. When we finally broke through the crowd upon arriving and made our way up those infamously narrow stairs, the first wave of relief of the evening washed over me. We walked into a pleasantly warm, softly light, intimate concert space, vintage and worn. The walls were covered sporadically with stickers of bands passed, and the former goalie in me was elated to find the spindles of the staircase to the bar were old hockey sticks. I am a glutton for an attention to architectural detail. I grabbed a corner of the room, conversed with a few friends and a fellow admired photographer, and got my camera set to capture three local bands I had never heard before.
First to take the stage was brand new local band Wildly Uncomfortable. It may have been one of their first gigs, but they most certainly didn’t portray their band’s namesake in their stage presence or sound. Their energy was truly that of a group of very talented, close friends, simply doing what they love for all the world to see. Everyone, from the bassist who cheerfully plucked his strings with animated expressions, to the guitarist who periodically would sit upon an amp as if he was simply playing in his living room, exuding a warm and welcoming energy. Their set was a mix of nostalgic covers, ranging from Heart to No Doubt, laced with two original tracks that are a catchy and melodic nod to alternative and blues. They are in the process of working on more original music, and I am genuinely looking forward to hearing it, and watching their unity and presence on stage grow with every upcoming live performance.
Next came Dosed, a punk-funk centered three piece band from southwest PA. My internet research yielded little information on the trio, so I was admittedly a little giddy when their docket was entirely comprised of originals. Riffs and verses remnant of Rage Against the Machine drifted to the back of the room where I stood, and immediately other local punk bands came to mind that I couldn’t wait to tell about what I was hearing. Edgy, alternative, and with nostalgic hints of that teenage angst we experienced in our youths.
Last of the evening, and totally out of left field, was Mark Lykkos and the Kinsey Five. While their entire presence and sound was completely different than anything else I had heard that evening, the audience loved it. The crowd gathered for this Breakfast Club of a band and howled for frontman Mark Lykkos. They danced as he channeled an energy somewhere between a blossoming Freddie and an Angel of Darkness, with black feathered wings included. He is without a doubt a true performer. The theatrics were just enough to compliment a solid sound of original melodies that reminded me more of the generation of Fleetwood Mac than a group of young adults living in almost 2020. Handwritten tracks that maintain that old school, feel good, sexy sound was a delight to hear coming young musicians.
It was an evening of firsts all around, and a quick reminder of why I am involved in the scene here as much as I have grown to be. The music community in this city is full of surprises, ever changing, yet never forgetting our influences, our mentors, our reason for finding our voice and following our dreams.
A photographer in the Pittsburgh Music Scene for First Angel Media and The X, Amanda can often be found at shows, supporting local music and trying to help where she can with a passion for what she does.