Fourth annual VIA Music & New Media Festival dovetails with Carnegie International


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The past few weeks here have seen a range of artistic endeavors involving both an illuminated train and a giant duck.

Now, we move on to even bigger things.

The Carnegie International, a quadrennial showcase of 35 individual artists and collaborations from 19 countries, opens Saturday at Carnegie Museum of Art and it dovetails, for the first time, with the more underground VIA Music & New Media Festival, now in its fourth year.

VIA began Tuesday and continues through the weekend with a "festival as laboratory" approach, inspired by art parties such as Flux and Hothouse, that includes screenings, art/music collaborations and alternative dance-parties into the wee hours.

On Friday, VIA and the International join forces for the International Opening Party with local drag performer Sharon Needles (from "RuPaul's Drag Race" fame) and LA DJ Total Freedom, who mixes pop and hip-hop samples with experimental sounds.

"It's humbling for us to have a passport [or ticket] that includes both events," Quinn Leonowicz says of VIA's night with the International. "I think in their minds we're still a bunch of kids. So to be sitting at the table with them, that's really good news. It helps raise visibility for us, and I think they wanted to bring in a younger audience, which they're going to get."

VIA pairs musicians with visual artists and in the past has included such acts as Battles, Big Freedia, Matthew Dear and Zombi.

Much of it flies under the radar, and this year is no exception, with electro-punks ADULT., techno artist Jimmy Edgar and rapper Sasha Go Hard.

"This year and every year where we're kind of dictated by budget restraints. We can't do a lot of band stuff. We end up with a lot of individuals, a lot of producers," says Mr. Leonowicz, a Web developer and designer who created the festival in 2010 with Lauren Goshinski, a marketing manager for Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts.

Four years in, VIA is working without a single national sponsor, while banking on its name and reputation to bring people back for artists they might not be familiar with.

"The name has grown enough to where there's a trust factor there," Mr. Leonowicz, "and the word of mouth has been going better than usual. We like gritty stuff, we like dark honest things. There's like a rawness to it, I guess, like some of the hip-hop we have on Friday, it's not made for commercial consumption. Nothing that's radio ready right away."

One of the more household names, Chief Keef, presented as a partnership with Drusky Entertainment, had to pull out due to unforeseen commitments. Tal National, a band from West Africa scheduled for the Thunderbird Cafe, canceled because it was unable to get a visa.

As usual, the festival is spread around to the city and includes a pop-up venue, this one at 5854 Baum Blvd.

"The pop-up space is always the hardest thing to pull off," Ms. Goshinski says. "Scouting the space is hard because it has to have all these different variables. We wanted to be in East Liberty, so I spent a lot of energy going through every single property that could be available. We ended up at the former Family Resources Center. I think it's going to be a fun place for people to explore."

Ms. Goshinski can see the VIA and the International filling up an artistic weekend.

"If someone comes into town on Thursday, they have VIA Thursday night. Friday, they have the big opening. Saturday during the day they can go to the museum, and then come to us at night again. It's a nice rhythm."

VIA SCHEDULE

TODAY

7 p.m.: "Twohundredfiftysixcolors," Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Melwood Ave., Oakland. A feature-length film made entirely of animated gifs., including artist talk with Eric Fleischauer. $5.

9:30 p.m.: A/V Showcase at the Rex Theater, South Side, with Actress, Jimmy Edgar, Natasha Kmeto, Jason Burns; visuals: Ian Brill/Transmission, VIA takes a "wide-lens approach to modern club music" with Portland vocalist-producer Natasha Kmeto, who played the Decibel Festival and SXSW, Cleveland bass artist Jason Burns, techno "freak machine" Jimmy Edgar and producer and Werkdiscs co-founder Actress. $20.

FRIDAY

9 p.m.: 2013 Carnegie International Opening Night Party : Sharon Needles, Total Freedom, DJ Harry Lurker at Carnegie Museum of Art: Winner of the 4th season of Logo's "RuPaul's Drag Race," local drag performer and self-described "stupid-genius" Sharon Needles headlines the exhibition opening party. LA/Fade To Mind's Total Freedom blends R&B remixes, Middle Eastern pop samples, obscure narrative soundbites, UK grime, and Kuduro. Sold out.

11 p.m.: A/V Showcase at 5854 Baum Blvd., East Liberty: Jacques Greene, Lapalux, Sasha Go Hard, Total Freedom, Banjee Report, Wise Blood, Postlife. Visuals by h3D Space, Acid Rain Reflux. A showcase of hip-hop, house, pop-electro, bass Jacques Greene leads Lapalux, Chicago badgirl rapper Sasha Go Hard, Pittsburgh's Wise Blood, queer/punk outfit Banjee Report and Total Freedom. $20.

SATURDAY

1 and 5 p.m.: Group at Alloy Dance Studio: A 90-minute multimedia, audience-interactive performance described as "An electronic music show? A therapy session? A yoga class?" Free.

9 p.m.: A/V Showcase at 5854 Baum Blvd., East Liberty: ADULT., Kink, Vessel, Hunee, Trogpite. Visuals: h3D Space, Acid Rain Reflux. Features Detroit's electro-punks ADULT., also currently exhibiting at the Mattress Factory "Detroit Artists in Residence"; Bulgarian DJ and producer KINK blending house, techno, hip-hop, funk, and downtempo; Berlin resident Hunee, with a throwback take on dance music. $20.

11 p.m.: After Party: Mens Room V Honcho | Club Pittsburgh: Queer party-makers Men's Room (Chicago) team up with HONCHO, Pittsburgh's self-described "dance music rager for homos and friends" and go deep into the morning hours. $10.

SUNDAY

3 p.m.: Free Daytime Party with Slava, Beggars Of A New Land, Shisa, Pandemic, at Bayardstown Social Club (Deeplocal), 3008 Penn Ave.: Designed for recovery, family-friendly, chill vibes, local vendors, outdoor relaxing, and easy/fun creative projects for all-ages by tech-savvy Assemble. Support from local producer Shisa of Postlife, and more.

7 p.m.: Special Effect (Cartune Xprez) at Alloy Dance Studio: Peter Burr's live TV show and multimedia performance that features animations by James Duesing, Amy Lockhart, Yoshi Sodeoka, Michael Bell-Smith, Jacob Ciocci, and more. With original score by bands Seabat and Lucky Dragons. $5.

Weekend passes range from $60 to $140. For details, go to http://via-pgh.com.

music

Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg.


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