WORDS AND VIDEO: Eric Stevens / Michi Tapes.
Creeping back into Appalachia on the second leg of their six-date tour, Tony From Bowling crammed The Deli basement while on the run with Natural Rat for their split release, Mate. Fellow Steel City Death Club friends, Tough Cuffs joined to open the show in Pittsburgh September 30th.
Anyone lucky enough to chainsmoke among the sparse on-time attendees caught a grandiose Oakland sunset spectacle, the house venue parking lot with an open view west down Boulevard of the Allies, before the driveway gasped a sizable, mostly student population to well-exceed the basement’s capacity.
The malleable minds, still-developing bodies of the freshmen made it easy to pack the economy-size sardine can of this Pitt basement. The thrash, psych-rock, and pop-horror sounds between the bands sowed the spooky seeds for the creature feature mood of October. Staunch seniors maintained their position, occasionally crowd killing in a sea of woo girls, plush bones bumping together, dancing when you could. The night had an air of typical college debauchery but in the shadow of camaraderie in respecting the space and one another while moving to music.
Tony From Bowling scale neo-garage, hard fuzz riffs, psychedelic-tinged jam sections, and bouts of punk to loosen the floor live. Citing Ty Segall, Osees, and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard as crucial influences, the band also pulls from classic rock – Velvet Underground grooves, Black Sabbath, and Neil Young. Their relentless percussive drive opens opportunity for just about anything: noisy guitar tangents, echoed shrieks, head bobbers, dancy garage rhythms. The motoric fluidity derives from jams blossomed out of initial riffs in the practice room, tastefully countered with grounding, catchy, delay-heavy vocal sections and other details sprinkled in to tie it up.
The full set edit was captured on 8mm video cassette and VHS, interspersed with found footage snippets and excerpts from The Ray Bradbury Theater episode “The Crowd.” The main camera feed was manipulated twice through an analog video synth, to create an unstable and stable layer, each with their own colorations/manipulations adjusted in real time to the music. The affected video tracks are layered with the original at different transparency values throughout the set, which covered songs both new and old.
Mate, a split release as a pair of songs from both Tony From Bowling and Natural Rat was recorded by Steel City Death Club doom general Giovanni Orsini and mixed/mastered by Noah Sommers. Gio also plays bass for Natural Rat and occasional tambourine for Tony From Bowling. The tour took the form of two 3-day stints to support the 9/22 release, playing Homestead, Philly, NYC, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and back home to Morgantown, WV.
The band is currently split between the Backyard Brawl locations: drummer Max Bridges and guitarist Ryan Hartman in Pittsburgh; bassist Morgan Kashon and vocalist/guitarist Rob Potesta in WVU country. Building a nest egg of songs, the band is currently lying low to write an LP, except for a New Year’s Eve party gig at the formative 123 Pleasant Street venue in Morgantown.
The Deli has one last outing booked for the semester, Saturday, December 10th, with locals Sex Ant, Violet Evergreen , and Heaven’s Gate. The venue will be back in action January for a dense schedule of shows (message/email The Deli for the venue address).