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M.I.A. brings her agitprop hip-hop to Stage AE

April 28, 8PM
A cursory glance over Maya Arulpragasam’s career as the internationally chic MC, M.I.A. can turn even the most lukewarm pop culture consumer into a hawkeyed ethnographer attempting to derive meaning from her incendiary mishmash of influences and signifiers. She serves up her leftist, globe trotting hip-hop with healthy helpings of Madonna’s sneering provocational pop, Public Enemy’s righteous indignation and the hyperactive island beats of reaggaeton. Also, she regularly deploys images and symbols associated with revolutionary politics and terrorism as trappings for music videos. She’s been accused of exploiting radical, third world activism for the sake of edgy coolness by New York Times Magazine and she’s made an album that takes inspiration from a Hindu goddess who supposedly invented music 5,000 years ago. Oh yeah, she’s also given the finger to around about 150 million people.

Suffice it to say, one could argue M.I.A. epitomizes the pschizophrenia of 21st century globalized pop art. She has cannily produced music from discarded and disparate pieces of culture, directly attacking the Western establishment while slowly becoming a part of the very same machine. She put her best foot forward on her 2013 album Matangi, dropping arguably her most accessible track to date in the debut single “Bad Girls,” but ultimately creating one of the most abrasive, widely-released records this side of Kanye West’s Yeezus. The rest of the album clangs and barks with industrial throbs, baile funk rhythms and Middle Eastern inflections.

Rarely slowing down to offer anything resembling a hook, the album instead relies on a crushingly cool set of couplets and quatraints, like on the burping lurch of album centerpiece “Y.A.L.A.”: “I drink some Cointreau / Keep it in my poncho / Light up like Castro / Blow it up from get go." Matangi is an artillery assault on club ready hip-hop; a set of songs that M.I.A. will excitedly use to oblitrate the sound system at Stage AE when she graces the stage on Monday with A$AP MOB capo A$AP Ferg. Is Pittsburgh ready for this self-styled pop music revolutionary to set the stage on fire? I guess we’ll just have to find out. For tickets and more information on M.I.A.'s concert, head over to Ticketmaster.  (400 N. Shore Drive, North Shore, Stage AE, www.stageae.com)

The "creative circus" of RAW: Pittsburgh's "Spectrum"

The folks behind RAW: Pittsburgh aren’t necessarily interested in hosting a run of the mill art exhibition. For their second showcase in 2014, “Spectrum,” there will be no hushed conversation, muzak dribbling on in the background, or complimentary wine and cheese plates. Instead, Club Zoo in the Strip District will be taken over to showcase a huge smattering of visual artists, performance artists, fashion designers, photographers, make up artists, hair stylists, accessories artists and musicians in a club setting while resident DJ Jarret Tebbets and local MC/host Kelly Maize keep the “creative circus” from spinning off it’s axis.

RAW: Pittsburgh is a part of a national organization with bases in more than 60 cities across the globe that aims to “provide independent artists within the first 10 years of their career with the tools, resources and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity.” Showcase Coordinator Leigh Yock has ushered RAW into its second year in Pittsburgh with impressive results for local artists, giving them infrastructure, support and large stages to show off their work.

“This season we have doubled the number of participating artists per showcase as well as attendance,” Yock says. “Our average amount of artwork sold has increased over time and the last showcase (also at Club Zoo in February) had over $20,000 in artwork sales.”

This kind of attention and packaging is rarely available to young artists who often find it difficult to get their work in front of the right patrons. For Yock, allowing their artists to show what they want to show and providing a level of creative autonomy in what is technically a curated event is paramount to RAW: Pittsburgh’s philosophy.

“We do not dictate a certain theme to our artists," Yock says."We take great care in selecting talented creatives and allow them to decide what they will be showing."

For ticket sales and more information, head over to RAW: Pittsburgh’s website. (1630 Smallman Street, Strip District, Club Zoo)

Steel City Secret Cinema pays tribute to Bill Murray

April 25, 7PM
The Hollywood Theater in Dormont is the sole occupier of a proudly nerdy, cinephile niche in Pittsburgh's single screen movie theater landscape. Its operators choose to augment the traditional art house fare with classic showings from hall of fame directors like Hitchcock and Spielberg, cult favorites like Reefer Madness, local indpendents and your standard once a month showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Thus, it makes complete sense that the movie lovers from Steel City Secret Cinema (SCSC) will bring the Bill Murray edition of their signature event to the Hollywood Theater.

On Friday, the lobby of the Hollywood will show off an exhibition of Bill Murray themed art followed by a screening of a Bill Murray film which remains a secret until just moments before the opening credits roll. And for those of you looking to play along with the mystery, SCSC has been dropping hints on what movie was chosen over at their Facebook page. It's safe to say no other theater in Pittsburgh is more suited to this kind of strange celebration of mainstream film. 

The event, styled after the Mondo Movie Mystery which started at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, will feature art from famed local illustrator Michael Budaj, along with a handful of other Pittsburgh-based artists, music from Tracksploitation, food from Giant Eagle Market District and beverages from Lawrenceville's Roundabout Brewery.

Proceeds from the event will support the Arts for Autism Foundation of Pittsburgh, which aims to “encourage the creative expression of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through inclusive arts programming.”

For more information head over to Steel City Secret Cinema’s website or Facebook page, and tickets are currently available at ShowClix. (1449 Potomac Ave, Dormont, The Hollywood Theater)

Wayne McGregor and Random Dance unleash “Far” on The Byham

Award winning British Choreographer Wayne McGregor and his groundbreaking work with the Random Dance company, which he founded, remains at the vanguard of contemporary dance. Within his company, he’s established collaborative relationships with filmmakers, visual artists, musicians and scientific researchers in addition to his dancers, incorporating  the disparate influences of these wide ranging disciplines into his creative vision. His elaborate multi-media stage productions often tackle humanity’s strained relationship with advancing technology and science through precise, quick, sinewy choreaography that challenges the limits of human anatomy.

On Saturday, the Pittsburgh Dance Council, in conjunction with the Pittsburg Cultural Trust, presents one of McGregor’s most innovative works to date in Far, a ten dancer performance inspired by “radical cognitive research processes” and controversial Age of Enlightenment French philosopher Diderot's Encyclopaedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts.

Far features a score written by legendary songwriter and producer Brian Eno and collaborator Ben Frost, along with a computerized pinoard of 3,500 LED lights coordinated to adapt and change with the dancer’s lithe, physical movements. The production has been praised by The New York Times and The Guardian, who descrbed McGregor’s choreography as “elegant mutations suggesting star-fields and neural pathways,” adding “...there is, as so often with McGregor, the sense of the atomised individual striving for connection, for a place in the universe.”

Visit the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s website for ticket sales. (101 6th St, Downtown, Byahm Theater)
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Society for Contemporary Craft

Society for Contemporary Craft

2100 Smallman St