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The Show goes on for local band with Britpop feel


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Pittsburgh bands come in various shapes and sounds, but it's rare that you stumble upon one that could be mistaken for Oasis.

That's what happened when the frontmen for The Show put their musical minds and talents together after a rather odd first meeting in the desert back in 2005.

Johnny Saint-Lethal was driving through Arizona on his way back from LA when he picked up Brandon Mitchell hitchhiking. The latter was heading to New York to pursue his interests in writing and painting, but instead they settled in Pittsburgh that September, planning to go to New York together the following year.

The Show Vinyl Release Show
With: Sylvania, Court IV, The Skunk11, A Friendly Gesture.
Where: Mr. Smalls, Millvale.
When: 7:15 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets: $12; mrsmalls.com.

"So very long story short," Mr. Saint-Lethal says, "I did my solo thing, Brandon learned how to play guitar and started writing songs."

They were doing separate solo gigs together in Pittsburgh and started playing on each other's songs.

"It was strangely natural how well his lead guitar parts, completely unschooled, fit so well into my music and vice versa," Mr. Saint-Lethal says. "We decided, 'Well, this is stupid, we might as well just start a band,' and, ironically, it was at Wicked Willys in NYC in August 2007 we decided this."

They did their first gig at the Rex Theater the following year and released their debut album, "Here's to Your Jigsaw," in 2009. "We pretty much walked into the studio six months after we did the first demos, which was a horrendous mistake because the songs didn't have any room to breathe or grow," Mr. Saint-Lethal says. "And we wanted to come off as this pop band making pop songs with a psychedelic feel to them and instead they came off as indie-pop or like a Jawbreaker post-punk band."

Having gotten some airplay in Europe, The Show did a three-week tour of the UK and Ireland in 2010 and toured the U.S. the following year.

The plans for 2012 hit a snag when Mr. Saint-Lethal was diagnosed with leukoplakia (lesions on his vocal cords), and given a 10 percent chance of full vocal recovery. He sought treatment from a local homeopath while giving up smoking and cutting back on whiskey.

Last year, the two singer-songwriters reassembled the band with a new rhythm section (drummer Matthew Vaughan and bassist Michael Ward), which they credit for helping steer the band's new six-song vinyl EP, "... until you know what it's like to stand where there is no ground ...."

"I think when you have musicians in your corner that are as good as they are, you can develop on the spot," Mr. Mitchell says. "The people we were with before, we had to have things completely done and ready and tell them what to do. Now, I can write half of a song or just have lyrics and then we can write it together, which is a lot more fun."

The two principles trade off vocals and songwriting on a set of infectious Britpop-style songs that would be a radio-programmer's dream on a cool station somewhere.

"Unless you're a blues band or a punk or metal band you largely get ignored by radio here," Mr. Saint-Lethal says. "Even our pop music, electronic music, etc., there's no real market for it in Pittsburgh. There is a lot of talented pop music that gets ignored that's a helluva lot better than Avril."


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