GRAND BUFFET RE-OPENS FOR BUSINESS
• Grand Buffet has been quiet for the better part of three years -- figuring it would give Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller a shot -- but now Pittsburgh's merry minstrels of indie hip-hop are coming back on the grid.
Lord Grunge (Jarrod Weeks) and Grape-A-Don (Jackson O'Connell-Barlow) will unleash their lyrical mayhem once again Saturday at the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville.
The duo, which formed in 1996, has released seven albums (most recently 2008's "King Vision" for Fighting Records) and has toured the globe, sharing stages with such artists as Of Montreal, Magnolia Electric Co., Girl Talk and MGMT.
"We never actually broke up, per se," says Lord Grunge. "We spent 10 years touring, anywhere from 100 to 200 shows a year, and while we were able to make a legit living and it was a bona fide dream come true, it took its toll. It's a pet peeve of mine when bands bitch about how hard it is to tour. We never bitched, and I'm not bitching now, but by 2010 we had basically morphed into a couple of really salty rap demons. Money was also pretty tight for the last couple years of 'full time' band life. We decided that, in the interest of preserving the band, we should take a break. The fact that it was for an indefinite amount of time was perhaps weird, and a lot of people assumed that we were kaput."
During the hiatus, they pursued solo efforts (Lord Grunge as himself, and Jackson as electro performer Mrs. Paintbrush). In July, they were offered a run of shows with B. Dolan and Sage Francis, who once called them "the most entertaining group I have ever had the privilege of sharing shows with."
"Surprisingly, we were both available and eager to do them," says Lord Grunge. "I think the fact that they went really, really well is what got us both fired up about working together again. It was like, 'Oh, yeah, as it turns out we can do this without wanting to kill each other in the face. Cool!' "
In December, they hit the Southeast with indie electronic artist Dan Deacon for what Lord Grunge calls "a true joy ride."
The Pittsburgh show, the first one here since the big Girl Talk festival with Wiz at Station Square in 2009, is billed as a benefit for "Pittsburgh Batman," a play Lord Grunge has written that will be presented February 21-23 by Bricolage.
" 'Pittsburgh Batman' is a new take on the 'vigilante dressed in bat costume' paradigm. It's batman like you've never seen him before, Pittsburgh style. Jackson and I came up with the story and characters years ago, and I penned [it]. It's going to blow minds. I'm sure it'll [tick] people off, too. Or just be totally ignored. All those scenarios are fine by me."
The concert is 9 p.m. Saturday at the Thunderbird Cafe, 4023 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $10 at the door for the 21+ show; 412-682-0177.
NEW MADDIE MUSIC
• Having spent her youth in musical theater, Maddie Georgi came to wider attention when, as a 16-year-old Hampton High School student, her song "Gone Away Again" went to the finals of CMT's Music City Madness competition.
Four years and many gigs later, she's studying communications and economics at Allegheny College, but her music pursuits are no less important.
This weekend she releases her second EP, "Glory Bound," with a show Friday night at the Rex Theater on the South Side.
Taking her cues from such artists as Carrie Underwood and Grace Potter, Ms. Georgi delivers five polished radio-ready songs touching on summer love (the poppy "One of Those Things"), the road ahead (the bluesy rocker "Glory Bound") and a cheatin' boyfriend (the funk-rocker "Hurricane").
"I think you can definitely hear the changes in my life reflected in these songs," she says. " 'Until We Meet Again' is a goodbye to my ex-boyfriend, who was the center of many of the songs on 'Go.' 'The Way You Say My Name' is a hello to my new and current boyfriend, and kind of talks about us getting to know each other at Allegheny College. 'Glory Bound" is about my sort of double life. I'm a full-time student at Allegheny College, but I'm still desperately trying to keep my music dreams alive. Doing them both at once has been extremely challenging, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make my dreams a reality."
This time she did some co-writing with Bill Deasy of The Gathering Field.
"It really helped me to develop my skills and to dig deeper with my lyrics. He is such a great writer, having him as a mentor in that department has been really beneficial to me. Plus he's just so awesome to work with, and really gave me confidence in my songwriting abilities."
Josh Verbanets (Meeting of Important People) opens the 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $7; rex.greyareaprod.com.
• The making of the last Mariage Blanc full-length was so marred with studio mishaps, the band called it "Broken Record."
"This time around," says guitarist Josh Kretzmer, "our space was heated and there were no catastrophic gear failures."
The result is "Undercurrents," a five-song dream-pop EP that seems tailor-made for gazing out the window at a late-day winter landscape as the delicate guitars dance beautifully with the heavenly vocals of Matt Ceraso and wash of electronics.
"There was probably some amount of subconscious effort to distance ourselves from singer-songwriter territory," says Mr. Kretzmer. "There's more sound manipulation on this EP than on our previous efforts. Sonically, we were much less confined by the idea of 'capturing a performance' or appealing to any specific vibe or production aesthetic."
While there's no studio glitch this time, there is a personnel one. Chris Williams, the band's second drummer, left the band for the Marines, so Mariage Blanc doesn't have a full unit to play a release show.
"We're currently on the hunt for drummer No. 3," Mr. Kretzmer says. "In the near term we're still writing and recording, we've just been working against drum machines for prototyping things. If we don't find a permanent replacement by the time we are ready to record the next batch of songs, we'll likely end up asking various people to fill in."
Undercurrents will be released Tuesday. Go to www.facebook.com/mariageblanc?fref=ts.
-- Scott Mervis, email@example.com; 412-263-2576