I had the pleasure of photographing Maura and Bengt as they prepare and compose music based on the unbelievable murals of Maxo Vanka at St. Nicholas Church. As part of hopefully an ongoing series called Hi Rez, the idea is to place artists of different media and give them a theme to produce from. As the press release states, it is “a new nomadic, site-specific, hi-impact, artist residency program”. Sounds cool to me. The initial performance is this Sunday at 3pm. Well enough time to catch the show AND the Steeler game, so no excuses. More photos here.
Action Camp are a local duo who bring together a variety of influences and styles to produce what they themselves call ‘melodramatic popular song’. They headline tonight’s late show at Club Cafe with Chupacabra and Una De Luna. As for for the image above, they are participating in a cool and unique project that I will profile soon and you can read about here. In the meantime, Maura and Bengt were cool enough to participate in this edition of First/Last.
The first album you ever bought?
Bengt: Probably Michael Jackson’s Dangerous on cassette, but my sister and I used to run around the living room blasting our parents’ LPs of Thriller and Black Sabbath’s Paranoid so I had a pretty polarized taste in music from a very young age.
Maura: I honestly probably didn’t buy music until high school; I recorded onto tape a ton of my dad’s collection and listened to my mom’s records. The first tapes I ever commandeered, though, were probably B-52’s Cosmic Thing and U2’s Achtung Baby.
Your last album bought?
Bengt: Elsinore – Yes Yes Yes. We did a mini-tour with them earlier this year and they are fantastic in so many ways.
- Maura: Ditto, with a close second being Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible.
- Favorite album of all time?
- Bengt: Jellyfish – Spilt Milk. It’s one of the best pop records of the last 25 years.
- Maura: I always have a hard time with this one. If you were to base it off of our roadtrips, though, no time in the car is complete without The Killer’s Sam’s Town. I also never tire of listening to Neko Case’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.
- Least favorite/most disappointing album?
- Bengt: Daft Punk – Human After All seemed pretty phoned in. I remember Vitalic put out OK Cowboy two weeks later though and it was everything Daft Punk should have done.
- Maura: I don’t think I understand MGMT.
- First concert attended?
- Bengt: I think Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Eastern States Exhibition when I was 6 or 7.
- Maura: I actually think it was Joan Osborne. I remember going with my dad and being uncomfortable when she was flirty with her guitar player.
- Bengt: Honestly – Action Camp with our friends Mad Anthony, Aloud, and Electric Situation. It was one of our shows but it was a couple of my favorite bands from around the country all playing on one night.
- Maura: Ditto.
- Favorite concert ever?
- Bengt: Junior Senior opening for Electric Six at the Middle East in Boston. It was the first time Junior Senior ever played the city and they totally destroyed Electric Six. The single greatest set I’ve ever seen.
- Maura: I saw MIA at the Paradise right after Arular came out, it was just her in a skeleton costume, like the one kids wear, with the bones on a black sweater, a Dj, and a back-up singer/dancer in day-glo. I spent half of it behind a pole, but it was awesome.
- Least favorite concert?
- Bengt: Unknown Hinson at Diesel. He just wanked on guitar and didn’t even put his fake sideburns on. I left after 7 songs.
- Maura: I’d like to take this opportunity to thank soundmen/women everywhere who sit through their new ‘least favorite concert’ probably at least once a week.
- Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
- Bengt: There are a lot of great bands here. I want to see them touring more so the city will get recognized as a national scene the way it should. I think it’s still seen by some bands as a filler gig between DC and Ohio but if more of the locals act as ambassadors by hitting other cities it can draw some much deserved national attention to the Pittsburgh music community.
- Maura: Having grown up here, leaving, and coming back, I have to say that there is something inherently different about the personality of Pittsburgh that just ruins you for other places–and I mean that in a good way. I feel like I’m only beginning to scratch the surface of all the exciting things that are happening here, and I think that what makes Pittsburgh different is that no matter how big or small the scene, it always feels approachable, like there is always someone you could just grab a drink with and find yourself involved in their project. And that’s pretty unique.
Thanks guys. I am really excited about the upcoming Vanka project. Those murals are just so powerful. Can’t wait to hear what you come up with.