Wiz Khalifa and Pete Wentz talk Boys of Zummer

Written by Scott Mervis on .

ZummerWiz Khalifa and Pete Wentz, of Fall Out Boy, are on a teleconference (Monday at 1 p.m.) talking about the Boys of Zummer Tour, which hits the First Niagara Pavilion on July 2.

Wiz's son, Sebastian, is throwing a small tantrum in the background. Sounds like they're at a pool. Connection is bad, but here's what they are saying:

Wiz on playing with live band: "I'm influenced by live music, the feeling you get from a live band, each musician playing their heart out. Some of my favorite bands are Queen, Journey, The Police ... I love Bob Marley, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, System of a Down, George Clinton, people who just really rock it live.

 Wiz on touring with Fall Out Boy: "It was a joint effort where I wanted to go on tour with a rock and roll group. It was more or less Fall Out Boy accepting it and saying, 'We want to do it as well'."

Pete on chemistry behind the scenes: "I would say that it's pretty natural, man. Going into the tour we were excited... Wiz is literally like the most laid-back dude. Always good vibes..."

Wiz on chemistry: "We all see each other in passing. At the end of the day, it feels like we're all there together, no separation between camps and crews. That's what I look for in a tour, that brotherhood."

Wiz on playing hometown: "Hometown shows are always the best -- backstage you have all your family there."

Pete on playing in Pittsburgh: "I'm excited to go to Pittsburgh because it's fun to see an artist in his hometown. That day is Wiz's day and I'm excited for that."

Pete on tour diversity: "To see the same kids enjoying both us and Wiz ... I think people are willing to give other music a shot now." Says he wishes it were like this when he was young and going to shows.

Wiz on collaborations: "A lot of the rock music I grew up listening to was mainstream ... It was different for me coming from where I came from, a lot of people in the hood don't enjoy music like that... When Fall Out Boy asked to do the remix on 'Uma Thurman,' I just said, 'I gotta kill it.'

Wiz on doors opening up with 'See You Again': "I haven't really experienced all the doors. It's the biggest song I've had in my career and every artist wishes for that...I'm blessed to have that kind of song and feeling going. Just really good to see people that happy."

At the end of the conference, I ask them if they are more careful these days on social media (and make reference to Iggy Azalea incident in Pittsburgh): Publicist jumps in with "We're going to move on from that question."

Conference ends with the two stars mumbling something inaudible, like "Did he get cut off?"

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Interpol cancels with love letter to Pittsburgh

Written by Scott Mervis on .

The Interpol concert, scheduled for Stage AE on May 16, has moved from the postponed to canceled category.

The New York City indie band posted the following letter on its website Tuesday:

"Dear Pittsburgh,

It’s with great sadness and regret that we must inform you we’ll not be able to reschedule our cancelled Pittsburgh show from May 16th. We’ve explored all possible routes to make this a possibility but unfortunately it’s simply not feasible within the schedule. We really love your city.

We’ve only had the pleasure of playing Pittsburgh a handful of times in our career so we were sincerely looking forward to the show at the Stage AE. Alas, some of life’s biggest misfortunes came our way and we had no choice but to cancel that scheduled show. We are very sorry but we do hope that you understand that the situation was larger than the band. We love you guys and have tremendous memories of all previous shows in your town. We really do hope you understand the situation.

We’ll be posting details on how to refund your tickets immediately.

All the very best and with much respect, Interpol."

Interpol's last Pittsburgh performance was opening for U2 at Heinz Field in 2011.

It was one of two May shows at the venue to be canceled. The Replacements postponed because of singer Paul Westerberg's throat ailment on May 5, and later canceled. Last week in Europe, the frontman declared that the band has played its final show.

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Pride should cancel Iggy Azalea -- but how?

Written by Scott Mervis on .


iggyThis hasn't been an easy week for Iggy Azalea -- she announced the cancellation of her tour due to slow sales -- and next week's not going to be so great either if she shows up to play Pride in the Street in Pittsburgh.

Rather than the love-fest with the artist that usually ensues at Pride -- Melissa Etheridge, Adam Lambert, Chaka Khan most recently -- the Australian rapper will be greeted June 13 by protesters determined to "shut it down" and likely a depleted crowd because of it.
The anger over her selection as the Delta Foundation's Pride headliner came almost immediately after the announcement.
"Our board voted last week to not march in the Pittsburgh Pride parade, due to the insensitive choice of Iggy Azalea as headliner," Vanessa Davis, of the Pittsburgh chapter of the youth-advocacy group Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, told the PG.
Along with being accused of co-opting Southern black culture (not to mention the good name of Iggy Pop), the "Fancy" rapper has a history of racist/homophobic tweets that should been vetted by the organizers.
She made disparaging remarks about the bodies of Mexican women, used the d-and-b-words to describe lesbians (as an outsider) and referred to one man whispering into the ear of another being "homo." Clearly, this is not what the LGBT community is looking for in a Pride headliner, and if the show goes on, the protests will make national news. (It's already on E! News
But how do you cancel now?
Azalea is unlikely to bow out, and if Delta cancels, they still have to pay her. Maybe she would agree to take half under the circumstances, but that's still a hefty price -- $50,000-plus. And this is supposed to be a fundraiser! Delta, which won't comment on the status of the show, is not a major promoter that can take that kind of financial hit.
"I truly believe Delta made a bizarre and crazy mistake in booking someone who has made regular racist and homophobic comments," singer/activist Phat Man Dee told me on Friday. "Their refusal to even discuss it is even more bizarre.
"I have always stood by my LBGTQ brethren, sistren and anyone in between. I have loved and been mentored by many gay/trans folks of every color in my life in this town, and Delta has gone off the rails on this one. I posted an open letter to them on their page and my FB Phat Man Dee page about it 2 weeks ago....heard nothing back from any of them."
The situation is a glaring reminder that when it comes to choosing an artist to celebrate a community, you can't be too careful, and it might be best to stick with the people who have been there, done that.


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... Trail of Dead plays big for Smalls crowd

Written by Scott Mervis on .


TrailConrad Keely and Jason ReeceOne of the more memorable shows at the late-great Club Laga was Queens of the Stone Age in 2002 -- when they still had crazy naked bassist Nick Oliveri -- with openers ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead.

Austin's TOD, which had previously played a CMU basement show and headlined a smaller gig at Laga with The Secret Machines, seemed kind of pissed off that night, playing a set that ran on angry energy. The tour coincided with third album "Source Tags & Codes," a majestic, ferocious record that's a contender for best of that decade.

That shine didn't last long, though, because the follow-up, "Worlds Apart," was a more commercialized version of what came before. As the band has progressed, taking on more proggy twists, only diehards have paid attention, and so when you mention the name now a lot of people just draw a blank.

On Thursday night, Trail of Dead made a long-awaited return to Pittsburgh for a crowd of maybe 60 people at Mr. Smalls (2,500 were at Milky Chance at Stage AE). Frontman Conrad Keely thanked the crowd for coming out in the bad weather (it was just kinda raining). You have to worry about a lackluster attitude when a crowd is that sparse, but that didn't show in TOD's impassioned performance.

Last year they were out playing "Source Tags" in its entirety, and you could tell by the reaction to those songs, starting with opener "It Was There That I Saw You," that everyone present would have been up for that.

They played about half of it, bashing through the epic, shoegaze-y songs ("Another Morning Stoner," "How Near How Far") with more fury and none of the polish you hear on the album. The band's best and only trick proved to be its interchangeable pieces, as original drummer Jason Reece stepped out to play guitar and and sing with no drop in intensity when Jamie Miller took the drums.

Interest in this band is so low right now, you're probably not even reading this, but the new album, "IX" (yes, they made it that far), is worth checking out, sounding like it could have been the follow-up to "Source Tags." They touched on it briefly doing "A Million Random Digits," "Jaded Apostles" and "The Lie Without the Liar," with urgent, rushing guitars and breakneck drumming.

Another reason to walk in the door was the band's thrashy Sonic Youth turn on "A Perfect Teenhood," played, like everything else, like it was for 600 people, not 60.


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Todd Rundgren goes 'Global' to mixed reviews at Stage AE

Written by Scott Mervis on .

toddWhile the Mavericks were rocking the Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead, Todd Rundgren was getting mixed results at the sold-out Stage AE on his "Gobal" tour:

Here are two different takes on the show:

Ben Alper: "Having never heard or seen Todd Rundgren before, I went to the show with a somewhat open mind, albeit expecting to recognize some songs from a lifetime of listening to WDVE. What I got instead was an aged rocker who seemed more interested in leading an aerobics class. His backing 'band' consisted of a synth player and two female singer/dancers wearing Afro wigs. When he chose to play guitar, it had a nice full tone and he certainly evinced a level of proficiency, but unfortunately for the majority of songs I witnessed, he was all too happy to leave the guitar on its stand while he jumped around trying to excite a bewildered crowd. After 5, 6 songs, we had had enough faux-jock jams and decided to call it a night."


Dave Hartz: "It's tempting to think that Todd Rundgren just likes to mess with the folks who show up waiting to hear his greatest hits. You knew something was up from the DJ setup center stage. The crowd got treated to TR's new electronica-infused 'Global' album in its entirety with Todd flanked by two female singers/dancers and backed up by DJ DamFunK. There were no guitars other than on the 4 or 5 songs on which TR strapped on a lucite Strat for some killer guitar solos. A finale medley of reworked hits 'Can We Still Be Friends,' 'Hello It's Me' and 'I Saw the Light' probably wasn't enough to satisfy the bring-me-the-hits crowd. You have to keep an open mind. My companions kept checking their phones and being relieved that their tickets were comps while I dug the show. His voice was in great shape and his guitar chops intact, even if I would have preferred seeing him front a four-piece rock band. Makes me think back to Neil Young's 'Greendale' show at Star Lake when everyone complained they hadn't been 'warned' that it wouldn't be a greatest hits show."





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