Sound Scene Express

MOIP and Brooke Annibale Please at Pittsburgh Winery

Meeting of Important People
W/ Brooke Annibale
& Greg and Liz Dutton
Pittsburgh Winery
April 8, 2016

Photo and review by Melanie Stangl

The threat of a Winter Weather Advisory in April didn’t stop music lovers from selling out the Pittsburgh Winery this past Friday.  The occasion?  Meeting of Important People, playing their second headlining gig since the February release shows for their new album, Troika.  Rounding out the bill were openers Greg and Liz Dutton as well as rising star Brooke Annibale.  It was a night of acoustic soul, electric fun, and genuine good vibes.
The warm winery basement, packed to capacity, was a welcome reprieve from the unseasonable cold.  Just after 9 PM, Greg (on guitar) and Liz (on a vintage keyboard) started off the evening on a mellow note, playing a mix of new and old songs.  Their place on the bill was not mere coincidence: the two are the most active remaining members of local indie folk band Lohio, a project in which MOIP frontman Josh Verbanets and drummer Matt Miller participated, and in fact was how they initially met.  The two joined the Duttons onstage for their last number, which Verbanets praised as one of his favorite songs ever written by a Pittsburgh songwriter.

Brooke Annibale took the stage next, and wowed the crowd with her gorgeous, ethereal voice and adept guitar playing.  You might recognize her single “Remind Me” from its regular rotation on 91.3 WYEP, as well as the Sirius XM Coffeehouse station.  She was gracious and sweet, treating the audience to an eclectic blend of songs from her three releases so far, including her full-length, The Simple Fear, which came out last October.  Love songs such as “Under Streetlights” and “Over Again With You” were prevalent throughout the set.  One of the clear highlights was her haunting track, “Silence Worth Breaking,” which has been featured on an episode of the TV show Pretty Little Liars.  Considering her talent and her success so far, it’s no surprise she has shows in such various locales as Louisville, Kentucky, Washington D.C., and New York City in the coming weeks, capping off the string of performances by opening for Morgan Erina’s EP release show, also at the Winery, on May 13th.

The wine continued to pour as Meeting of Important People began their set.  The band is known for the infectious blend of enthusiasm and skill they bring to each performance, and tonight was no exception.  They kicked both the energy and the volume up with the raucous first two tracks off of Troika, “MOIP Intro” and “Take Action!”  Violinist Cara Garofalo joined the band onstage for these songs and would make a few more appearances throughout the night, providing the new layer of complexity and depth MOIP have achieved with their latest record.  They immediately followed these with such fun, older fan favorites “Gotta Clean Head,” “Innocents Abroad,” and “Dead Man.”

From here they transitioned into the acoustic portion of the set, Miller abandoning his drum set in favor of a shaker and tambourine.  Verbanets wryly remarked before beginning, “Did you ever hear Led Zeppelin play acoustic at Earl’s Court?  This is gonna be the garbage version of that.”  Garbage it was not: audience members were treated to the deep cut “Broken Down Storefront,” a song which doesn’t appear on any MOIP album.  They followed it up with “Hanky Church,” and new track “I’m Flying (Close to It).”

They resumed their full-band set-up with a cover of Loudon Wainwright III’s classy, crowd-pleasing tune “Dead Skunk,” for which Garofalo joined them. Keeping the good vibes rolling with “Keep Your Eyes On Me” and “Leap-the-Dips,” they then moved into their newest cover, a rocking rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”  Verbanets made sure we all knew who was who for this song: “Aaron [Bubenheim] is John McVie, I’m Lindsey Buckingham, and Matt is both Mick Fleetwood AND Stevie Nicks!”  Their energy, twelve songs in and with five to go, was staggering.  They cranked it higher for “Fifty Bucks,” a Troika tune that anyone who’s ever needed to borrow money can relate to, and brought it down just a little for their new bluesy track, “Only Half Grown,” in which Verbanets’ guitar skills were particularly highlighted during its gritty, soulful instrumental.  Their next two songs were two of MOIP’s most well-known: “Brittney Lane Don’t Care” and the one “dedicated to everyone’s Yinzer uncle,” “I Know Every Street.”  

The grand finale of the show (during which Robbie Tuna accompanied on keys) also happens to be the last track on Troika, the slow, beautiful, lullaby-esque “Don’t Wait Up for Me.”  But whether it was your first time Meeting these Important People, or you’ve been a longtime fan, they were certainly worth waiting up for.  Every act exuded warmth and talent, which made it that much more difficult to leave the Winery and enter the heavy wintry mix pouring down outside. But no doubt, it was worth it.

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