The big town DOES send its riffraff out
Dave, Aliza and I spent the weekend visiting our friends Alia Musica and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. In between late-night sets of Dominion and introducing Miss Simons to Dave and my old stomping grounds, we had some productive chats with Federico Garcia and Matt Aelmore of Alia Musica about the plans for Perfect Lives Pittsburgh as part of Alia’s Hear/Now Festival. Crossing two states, and getting just slightly detoured by a bathroom stop at Hawk Mountain, we only managed to be a few minutes late to our meeting with Jeremy Waldrup and Russell Howard (respectfully the P and VP of the Downtown Partnership).
First, the big picture.
We’ve had a unique experience of having 80-100 people following us around for most of the day when we did PL in Manhattan and the Catskills, with a hundred or so more coming in and out, or staying for a few episodes at a time. At all the venues (except for, say, the supermarket, where commerce is a-flowing as per usual) our performance was the main attraction. There would be, f’r instance, no particular reason to get to Washington Square Park at 11am on a Sunday except that we were kicking off a 12-hour event there.
For Pittsburgh, we have the opportunity to do it big, but to get a completely new audience; to expose Perfect Lives to a mass of folks who may have been passing by for other reasons (the supermarket effect for each episode); to be in the middle of things in a busy downtown area; maybe even to get a few innocent bystanders to become bona fide Explorers.
F’r instance, for the Park episode, we noticed that Market Square (next to the giant gothic glassle, PPC palace) holds an 8,000 person weekly farmers’ market, and we happen to be there on Thursday, the day of the event. If shoppers and 9-to-5ers can stay the 20 minutes and catch a little bit of opera, there’s a good bet, they’ll come to some later episodes.
Park House, oldest running bar in PGH, was a treat. As DR puts it: “Bar ass bar. Real nice. There was a blues duo playing, the PA sounded good, there’s nice room in the back for musicians. Great looking space, very long. Practical concern: TVs. I’m told it’s a hockey bar. The Penguins are good this year. Late May would be prime playoff time. 11pm the game should be over, but if it’s a hockey bar and there’s playoffs, people will be PISSED that we are taking their space. More pressing: it was pretty dead on this Saturday night. Everyone mentioned it, but it ended up being quiet in a bar town on a bar night. We’d be bringing the crowd. Also: tables/bar is probably danceable. There were peanut shells on the floor.”