The Andy Warhol Museum offered the people of Pittsburgh a low key alternative to the downtown holiday hoopla this weekend.
As part of its "Sound Series," the Andy Warhol Museum hosted a concert featuring Syracuse-based band Ra Ra Riot, who followed a powerful performance by the Pittsburgh-based band 1, 2, 3.
Though the Andy Warhol Museum has presented music as an integral component of their public programming initiatives for the greater part of the past decade, the museum has been consistently presenting the talents of various musical artists since 2004 when the "Sound Series" began.
The goal of this "Sound Series" is to provide Pittsburgh music lovers with the tunes of internationally and nationally acclaimed artists, while simultaneously introducing the same eclectic and interested crowds to the music of emerging artists. For the first years of the series, the Andy Warhol Theater was host to nearly all of the shows. More recently, though, the Warhol has pursued a collaborative initiative with the Carnegie Museum of Art. Throughout 2011, the series' shows have been split between the Warhol and the CMA.
The atmosphere at the concert, held at the Carnegie Lecture Hall in Oakland on Saturday night, was quite unique.
After picking up my tickets at will call, which consisted of a card table and an art-loving volunteer, I caught a glimpse of the dinosaur skeletons that stood behind the Carnegie Lecture Hall. I could already hear the vocals of Nic Snyder, the lead of 1, 2, 3, and I was eager to find an open seat.
Filled with people of all ages, ranging from teens to retired adults, the theater was buzzing with attentiveness—every person's eyes were glued to performers on stage. Heads were bobbing and feet were tapping; 1, 2, 3 was the perfect start to the indie-alternative night ahead.
The group sang songs from their debut album "New Heaven," which was released this summer. Their performance was well-rounded; there was a balanced mix of ballads, rock-type songs and combinations of the two. 1, 2, 3's final song played was their hit "Wavepool," which featured intricate string backgrounds.
Unlike the Britney's and Katy Perry's of the music world, every member of 1, 2, 3 helped set up the stage for Ra Ra Riot's performance. They walked off stage and sat down next to the crowd that, had moments earlier, been wailing for Snyder to hit another high note.
Seeing the band members interact with their fans was my favorite part of the night. The venue provided listeners with an intimate concert experience, but the artists' willingness to interact with the very people who had paid to see them completely eliminated the divide between artist and fan.
After a brief intermission and a word from a Warhol spokesperson, Ra Ra Riot took the stage. Wes Miles, the lead vocalist was backed by a bassist, a cellist, guitarist, drummer and violinist who stood out thanks to her bedazzled instrument. As if the unconventional combination of personalities and instruments onstage were not enough the grab the audiences attention, the band started off their part of the night with "Too Dramatic," a song that surely grabbed everyone's attention.
The next hour was filled with electrifying songs, all of which gave each individual in the band the opportunity to flaunt his or her skills. Perhaps most impressive was cellist Alexandra Lawn, who hopped between her cello, tambourine, and keyboard, finally finishing off the second to last song with a smooth serenade.
Two hours of performance was not enough for the crowd that had gathered at the lecture hall. After a double encore and rounds of applause, the audience slowly but surely milled out into the cramped hallways, where the artists were waiting to meet with their fans. No backstage passes needed!
By far, the 1, 2, 3 and Ra Ra Riot concert is one of the best I have attended. Sure, there were no pyrotechnics or fancy stage maneuvers, but the audience and atmosphere at the concert really highlighted the main purpose of the concert ... the music. Overall, this rendition of the "Sound Series" was a great experience.
Another great perk of the concert series: discounted tickets for students and Carnegie Museum members. The "Sound Series" continues into the new year with LotUS (League of the Unsound Sound) playing on Jan. 14 at the Andy Warhol Museum.