It’s hard to imagine a better choice than The New Mastersounds to headline the inaugural show at the new Roxian Theatre in McKees Rocks.
Sporting a fresh funk sound with a bit of a rockabilly/surf vibe, the British group blended an old-world spirit with a decidedly modern spin that accentuated the beautifully renovated Roxian.
Thursday, May 9, marked the debut of performances at the grand opening of the long-vacant Roxian Theatre — as well as the 90th anniversary of the venue’s original opening in 1929.
The range of musical styles showcased the most important aspect of the Roxian experience — the sound quality here is unlike anything else I’ve heard in Pittsburgh. The brass from hometown favorites Steeltown Horns came through clean and undistorted, the vocals of Lamar Williams Jr were deep and beguiling without being dominant, and the surfabilly guitar licks by New Mastersounds frontman and guitarist Eddie Roberts sounded crisp enough to bite into.
Everything about the performance and venue oozed cool from start to finish.
I visited once again on May 15 for Snarky Puppy’s explosive performance and was lucky enough to catch the opening act, House of Waters. Hailing from America, Japan and Argentina, the trio’s eclectic mix of instruments (go look up what a hammered dulcimer is … I’ll wait) further exemplified the stellar sound on offer at the Roxian.
Dulcimer player Max ZT’s every attack and strike on his strings was audible, whether he was tapping out a dancing drizzle or hammering down with the fury of a thunderstorm.
Snarky Puppy’s genre-swerving, acid jazz-fueled headlining set seriously showed off the sound system. The sound crew was on point, as the bass from Snarky’s Michael League was driving and powerful without ever reaching that teeth-shattering point of soundscape dominance that many concert-goers know too well.
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