By Melanie Stangl
The concert- and festival-packed summer might be over, but new music just keeps on coming from Pittsburgh bands of various genres. October will kick off with a double album release show from two hardworking local rock standbys: Victory at the Crossroads, premiering “Chetirye,” and Strange Monsters with “Destory All” (not a typo.) The songwriters of each act, Liss Victory and Don Strange respectively, are veterans of the open mic night scene, frequently spotted at Hambones in Lawrenceville on Tuesdays. But Saturday, October 1st, will find them debuting their new records at another such landmark: The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls. Alternative surf-rockers The Park Plan will open up the show, which starts at 8 PM.
Victory at the Crossroads consists of Liss and drummer Travis Schermer while Strange, along with drummer Tim Kelly and bassist Maurice Bajcz, comprise Strange Monsters.
It’s not often that bands’ creative schedules line up to have new albums ready around the same time, so Victory jumped at the chance to host a tandem celebration. “I love to share these moments with my friends,” she says. “When I found out [Strange] was also releasing a new album, I got really excited about the idea of working together.”
This timing isn’t the only thing they have in common. With both acts’ original music self-described as “socially conscious (albeit sometimes irreverent),” they share a theme of concern for the broader issues facing our planet and a hope to “inspire new ideas and positive change.” They aren’t afraid to get a little weird to make their point, either. “I always enjoy working with bands who create new ways to think about the world around us,” says Strange, “despite the inevitable alien apocalypse.”
Sound Scene Express got the chance to preview both records. “Destory All” offers enjoyably aggressive, straightforward rock music with great guitar riffs and atypical topics, such as the Transformers in “Optimus Minor” and every man’s inner animal (which happens to be a “giant purple gorilla”) in “Gawker.” Strange’s speak-singing style echoes bands like The Mountain Goats, and fits the unconventional-storyteller vibe of his lyrics. Victory at the Crossroads’ subject matter is a bit more familiar, carried by Victory’s appealingly unique voice that manages to be equal parts pretty and gritty. On the record she successfully tackles various shades of rock, from the distinct punk of “Curious Predicament” to the moody, atmospheric gloom of “Bitter Waltz.” If you’ve enjoyed her open mic sets, it’s a safe bet you’ll dig her full-band tracks even more.
With three quirky indie rockers on the bill and two major reasons to celebrate, Saturday night at the Funhouse is shaping up to be one hell of a party. Tickets are $5 before the show (either from the bands directly or online) and $8 at the door. Purchase them here. You can also check out the Facebook pages of Victory at the Crossroads here, Strange Monsters here, and The Park Plan here.