Guerilla Toss

Bands playing on a Tuesday night love to remind you that it's a Tuesday night. But I know it's a Tuesday night; I took a late day on my 15-150 homework to be here!

"Here" being the Mr. Roboto Project in Bloomfield, where Guerilla Toss, Rave Ami, and 1980 Special Twin were playing on, you guessed it, a Tuesday night.

I had seen the flyer for the show around the neighborhood, and was excited to see the show for a band whose ear-splitting songs I thought would be pretty fun live. Guerilla Toss is currently based out of Brooklyn, so I had meant to go see them, like, ten times when I was home this summer, but I did not because I was pretty lazy back then.

1980 Special Twin was the first opener. I thought I might miss him because I arrived nice and late, which I was bummed out about because I had googled him and was excited to see what a live violin show from Joey Molinaro, Pittsburgh Techno Guy, might look like. Luckily, he waited for me to start. His set was just him, with, as promised, a live violin, a Toca seed shaker strapped to his leg, and a nice board that was all mic'ed up to pick up his stomps. The board was truly very nice, and I wondered where he got it, and where I might acquire a similarly nice board. A hardware store? A music store? Construction Junction?

He sang, periodically through a headset reminiscent of one used by telemarketers or fast food workers that have to listen to the drive-through speakers.

The next band, Rave Ami, which Molinaro introduced facetiously as a techno act, called themselves the 'boring' act on the ticket. One band member told the audience to get ready for some "dumb rock songs," and another member piped up in response, "they're really dumb." Self-effacement aside, they were pretty good, and it was nice to see that they weren't taking themselves too seriously, especially in a genre that can quite often be kind of dumb.

Finally, Guerilla Toss made their way onto the stage, which became cramped with their drummer, bassist, guitarist, vocalist/violinist, lights guy, as well as lots and lots of gear. Though their newest album, Twisted Crystal, came out fairly recently towards the end of 2018, they played a mix of their more recent crowd-pleasers. This ended up being a little confusing, as in the song "Realistic Rabbit" off the 2015 EP, Flood Dosed, vocalist Kassie Carlson asks the audience: "Calculator! What does it equal?", while "Multibeast TV" from the 2016 album, Eraser Stargazer, explicitly tells us: "Do not calculate, plus OR minus." Either way, I was pretty glad I didn't do my 15-150 homework because I bet they would not have approved.

For a group I had thought of as more of an experimental noise/disco group, the influence of the Grateful Dead is stronger than one might expect. The only adornment on the keyboard player's stand was a Grateful Dead "stealie" sticker. The lights guy had a baggy, tie-dye, Jerry Garcia Band shirt on. And when they jammed in between songs mid-set, the spacey freedom of jams like live 1972 "Dark Star" were channeled (Grateful Dead takes powered by my fellow concert-goer).

There was one moment when Carlson picked up her violin, which had, in previous instances of their set, been drowned out in the mix as she messed with the various knobs and pedals that made the violin sound like an otherworldly replacement for her voice. But this time, the sound ripped from the speakers in an accidental distorted roar that was building before it was cut off by another frantic button smash. While that abrupt cut off was much appreciated by my young and tender growing ears, my friend, as we were waiting for our ride back, noted the same thing that I had thought when I first felt the screechy build of the accidentally distorted violin: that it probably would have sounded cool and on purpose had they let it come to its ragged, likely ear-splitting finish.

They closed with a shout out to how nice playing shows in Pittsburgh is, which might be something they say everywhere, but I am choosing to believe is true because it was a really nice show and I hope they come back.