Welcome to the firecrackers-strapped-to-your-Rust-Belt column ”Welcome To Pittsburgh,” as today we find ourselves entranced by stars yet lamenting another fine night of noise at the Polish Hill dive bar/cheap beer institution Gooski’s. It’s been a week and change now and we just barely got sober enough to write this ourselves.

Well, there was no clear frontrunner or headliner bathing in Gooski’s familiar blue and blood-red neon lights the other night, as a four-band bill of Pittsburgh troublemakers stormed the stage. While Popdose favorites T-Tops drew down the curtain in truly rollicking, drunken fashion with a handful of new songs and a shitload of energy, Horehound and Del Rios held their own and then some with sets full of venom and vigor, not to mention enough metallic and hard-rawk vitriol to keep the crowd knocked back on its heels. Old Dream opened the night with an enveloping set of trippy guitar loops, deceptively quiet glue.

Del Rios’ songs like ”Blood River” show why these guys are straddling an interesting intersection of the hard-rock, punk and metal scenes here in Pittsburgh. And, though the band’s reference points are more contemporary than the Priest perhaps, singer/sometimes-guitarist Grae Hall is fast becoming The Rob Halford for Pittsburgh’s Black Forge generation. Personal favorite from the evening? The bullet-to-the-head anthemic and self-referential ”Del Rios.”

O HeiÁ°rÁºn aside, vocalist Shy Kennedy made her presence known fast during Horehound’s set, adding a kind of edge and fluidity at the same time to Brendan Parrish’s and Mike Altopeidi’s two-guitar buzzsaw attack. Mighty good stuff that kept the songs from feeling like a one-dimensional grind. The addition of ”a new song” — titled ”The World To Come,” according to Kennedy — revealed just how raw and emotive the band can sound early in its writing/development process and, man!, I want more and more and more of that!

T-Tops, as always, didn’t disappoint, with as many — if I counted right — as five new songs premiered that fine night, not counted the previously heard but still-sorta-new ”Dead Magician.” These guys are one mean unit and many are looking forward to rumored seven- and ten-inch releases coming down the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

So? So! Pittsburgh, can you hear me? I’m in heaven. I’ve got scars that can’t be seen. Nevertheless, I still can be reached by e-mail: justinvellucci@gmail.com. DO IT!

About the Author

Justin Vellucci

Justin Vellucci is a former staffer at Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines like American Songwriter and PopMatters, alt-weeklies such as Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper, and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish and Linoleum, and the Gannett publication Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.

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