Sound Scene Express

Behind the lens with Zach Nellis at Howlers

Essential Machine
w/ Soft Girl,
The Grasping Straws
& Sorry, I’m Dead
January 15, 2017

Photos and words by Zach Nellis

I’ve been trying to see LAZYBLACKMAN since I saw them perform at Layer Cake Fest last year. The two have a good dynamic, not only in they’re writing but also their overall stage presence and attitude. So when I saw they were putting together a multi-genre show at Howlers I figured I’d stop by.

Sorry, I’m Dead was the first act to kick off the night with some indie noise punk. Unfortunately being first act can also mean having to work through some initial sound issues during your set. Despite faulty power cords, loose connections, and a broken string or two, you could still tell they were having a good time. It seemed like the band was using this show as an opportunity to try some new songs out as well. Even with all the sound problems, Sorry I’m Dead was still pretty entertaining, but I would like to see them again some time to get a better feel for their music.

LAZYBLACKMAN hopped on stage next. Not waisting anytime to “address the elephant in the room” which was their name. They made sure to explain that, together, Lazy JP and Barz Blackman, formed LAZYBLACKMAN. Both theses dudes have some pretty creative lines that they can spit pretty quick. JP also does some back up vocals for a few songs, such as Obey aka The Illuminati Song. On top of their quick and witty lines, these guys always have some pretty cool beat and sample selections. If you get a chance I definitely recommend trying to get to one of these guys shows, they don’t disappoint. AND if not you can check out their new music video for their song, Where Is My Mind, which was just released as I was typing all this stuff up. Its dope.

Next up was The Grasping Straws, a touring band from New York. This band was a nice change of pace, playing some pretty chill indie punk after a couple of more in-your-face acts. Ironically enough, during the most chill set of the night some dude was getting arrested right outside the window behind the band. It was just funny seeing this guy getting cuffed and taken away while listening to some soft rock. But The Grasping Straws still put on a good show, also had some pretty cool merch they were selling to help fund their tour.

Next on stage for this night of multi-genre music was SOFT GIRL, who played some pretty cool indie punk type stuff. This was also the first band I have seen where the drummer stood for the entire set which was pretty impressive. The lead guitarist and singer made sure to mention that he was a little sad because his fiancé who is also the band’s bassist wouldn’t make it to the show. Despite missing a fiancé/bassist the band still sounded pretty good. As they were finishing their last song, the lead singer threw his guitar on a loop, set it down and grabbed a drum stick as they started their own version of Alanis Morissette’s song You Oughta Know which was pretty awesome and an amazing way to go out.

The last band for the night was Essential Machine. This group from Greensburg, Pa played some pretty chill indie folk type music. They were a good way to end the night of many different styles of music. Its nice going to local shows like that because you kind of get to see what other types of music are happening around the area, outside of what you might normally listen too. I left that show with a few brand new bands to listen to that I probably would have ever heard of had it not been for checking out this multi-genre show.


The Grasping Straws – (NY) –


Essential Machine –


Sorry, I’m Dead –

Essential Machine

Soft Girl

The Grasping Straws


Sorry, I’m Dead

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About The Author

Zach Nellis

My name is Zach Nellis, I am a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a bachelors degree in Communication Media. I started photographing live shows back in 2011, primarily my friend's band Denzell. From there I began collecting photos from all sorts of different underground/DIY hip-hop, punk, and electronic acts around Pittsburgh. My photos were only being shared through social media until I found a position with Sound Scene Express, where I was given an opportunity to photograph shows as well as do concert write ups and band interviews.

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