Dec 08, 2010, 10:16AM

The Pittsburgh Scene

"Gregg Gillis Day" and the new Stage AE venue.

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Celebrations yesterday in Pittsburgh as the city council officially declared December 7 “Gregg Gillis Day,” honoring hometown favorite Girl Talk. Can’t say I really know anything about Girl Talk; I’ve only listened to a few of his songs and I usually only read about him in the context of copyright discussions: sampling, fair use, free distribution, etc; what Girl Talk’s doing right when so many others have the shit sued out of them, that kind of thing.

Still, I guess the kids like him, and it’s good news for Pittsburgh, a city not widely known for its music scene. Girl Talk, along with Wiz Khalifa and a few others, however, may have (re-?)legitimized Pittsburgh. As the Pittsburgh City Paper reports, both will be playing the new, 2400-seat Stage AE venue, and Gillis sounds pretty excited about supporting the local scene.

I’ve been thinking about Pittsburgh for a while now: how it’s due for a musical renaissance of sorts akin to Baltimore’s; an old rust-belt city, heavily blue-collar, inexpensive, with an otherwise strong arts scene and some renowned universities. Sound familiar? They’re certainly more isolated than we are (we’re fortunate to be so close to D.C., Philly, and New York), but at least they’re not losing shows to anyone either (fuck you 9:30 Club!). Local music needs non-local music to keep it working: they need the draw of national-acts, both to keep good quality venues open and to promote local bands. There’re only so many shows you can play in your friend’s basement if you ever want to make it. You need the opportunity to open for a band whose last album sold a couple hundred thousand copies or who just played Letterman last week. So, congratulations Pittsburgh. Keep it rollin’.

  • I would love to see more cities experiences musical renaissances like Baltimore has, but it seems like Pittsburgh has a long way to go. But perhaps Gillis and Wiz will be what set everyone else off on a creative frenzy - who knows. I think if anything they'll just breed more imitators than innovators. Girl Talk's sound is easily copied but impossible to replicate - somehow, despite the fact that his music is made up entirely of other songs, you can tell one of his songs is his almost instantly. And Wiz is just sort of a normal rapper - he talks about smoking weed and his Taylor Gang mostly. Not really gonna set the world on fire.

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  • Aside from Carnegie Mellon, what are the renowned universities in Pittsburgh? Still, I hope what you write is true. I wouldn't mind seeing a baseball renaissance there (now that's a similarity with Baltimore), since it's a great sports town and PNC is a GREAT ballpark that's going to waste.

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  • U. of Pittsburgh, Duquesne, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, for starters. Depends on what you wanna call "renowned." My point was the similarities between Baltimore, which you've nicely illustrated actually, since you might just as well say "Aside from Johns Hopkins, what are the renowned universities in Baltimore?"

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