Into it. Over it. takes over Altar Bar


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Evan Weiss is coming back to Pittsburgh. And this time, he's not alone.

After years of performing solo, Mr. Weiss -- a prolific songwriter who plays his edgy rock music under the name "Into It. Over It." -- has lined up a band to accompany him on his current tour, opening for Save the Day.

Into It. Over It., Save the Day and Hostage Calm take the stage at Altar Bar on Penn Avenue in the Strip District tonight.

"I've been to Pittsburgh a bunch of times, as a performer and as a tourist," said Mr. Weiss, a native of New Jersey who now calls Chicago his home. "Years ago, I tried to book shows in Pittsburgh and it was always really difficult. But in recent years, it's become much better. Venues like The Smiling Moose started doing all-ages punk shows and it became easier to play there. My last three or four times in the city have really been excellent shows.

"This will be the first time I've ever played Pittsburgh with a band. This tour has been a little different than most because, you know, we're not headlining and Save the Day will draw a solid crowd. So I'm interested to see what it will be like this time."

Part of the reason for the tour is to promote Into It. Over It.'s latest album, "Intersection," which will be released next week. But the show won't be entirely dedicated to the new stuff.

"We're doing a mixed bag from every album," Mr. Weiss said. "A little bit of everything."

Though he has spent much of his music career as a solo artist, Mr. Weiss has been in more than his share of bands.

"I've been playing music since I was 14," he said. "I've been in lots of bands. And it usually goes the same way. You're in a band, you record a demo, you do a few shows, and you break up. I think it was living in New Jersey that made me want to go solo."

In Chicago, he found a more receptive and cooperative music community.

"The last five years, it's been easy to maintain and find people who are excited about playing together," he said. "This is our first full-length tour. Hopefully, these dudes will be on board for a while."

One thing, however, doesn't change. Whether he's on stage by himself or joined by a trio of musicians, Mr. Weiss is out front trying to connect with the audience. It's something he feels he can do either way.

"I can't tell you how important that is," he said. "Whatever I do, however I'm doing it, I'm doing something sincere.

"I don't know any other way than to be honest. For better or worse, good or bad. I don't feel comfortable lying to people or making people feel like they're getting a performance that's disingenuous. I can't wear a mask. That's my personality. I'm just a brutally honest, blunt person."

Here comes what he calls "the cringe question." What kind of music do you play?

"It's transitioned," he said. "I don't know. We write what we write. Generally, I would just say indie-rock or college rock. Everyone else seems to take care of labeling it for me."

He picks the inspiration for his songs from the people, things and events that he encounters in daily life. It's an approach that served him well on his project of writing 52 songs in 52 weeks, and it's one that he believes people can relate to.

"There's always something happening, there's always something to talk about," he said. "A lot of the things that happen to me -- maybe not literally, but figuratively and similarly -- happen to a lot of people my age, coming from a similar place. It's accessible everyday stuff that I try to make sound poetic. But who knows? Maybe I'm totally off the ladder."

Those who have seen him before will recall that he does a little storytelling between some of his songs. So much so, he said, that the stories sometimes have become part of the songs.

But not so much on this tour.

"With this tour, it's difficult because you only have so much time to play," he said. "And now I'm with a band, and we want to play as many songs as we can play. I think when we're headlining shows, there's a little more time to indulge the storytelling aspect. But it will definitely return.

"In the solo shows, it's much easier to connect and try to talk. But with the band, we're loud and we're fast and we just want to try and kick as much ass as we can in 40 minutes."

Don't expect this to be last time you'll have a chance to see Into It. Over It. in Pittsburgh.

"I'm creating something from beginning to end," Mr. Weiss said. "I think that's what it's all about. I haven't had a job in four years.

"I expect to just keep doing what I'm doing. Doing what I love and not have to answer to anyone. We can make our own rules and do what we want, and that's ultimately the goal. Longevity and creativity."

The show at Altar Bar, 1620 Penn Ave., begins at 7 p.m. Cover is $19.

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Dan Majors: dmajors@post-gazette.com.


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