By Jamal Stone
In simple terms, VIA is an electronica music festival in Pittsburgh, but it’s so much more than that. VIA comes from the word via – literally, to travel through something en route to a destination. In this sense, VIA is a showcase for musician, artists, and the city of Pittsburgh. Previous VIA festivals have taken over abandoned warehouses and boarded-up city blocks, and injected them with new technology and glitchy sounds. VIA is a confluence of artists – every musician is paired with a visual artist. This collaboration isn’t always congruous, but it always offers something new. VIA also offers ways to learn. The complete festival includes screenings of independent documentaries (this year offering a glimpse into the world of riotgrrl with “She Said Boom”) as well as classes for budding musicians. Maybe, finally, I can crack the code of my microKORG synthesizer, or figure out Ableton Live without the detached coldness of the built-in tutorial. Maybe.
Excitingly, VIA is growing. 2014 introduces a lot of metal acts, a nod to Pittsburgh’s growing metal/noise scene. And, for the first time, VIA has added a second city, taking their brand of futurology to Chicago. Headliners this year include Yppah, Little People, Zebra Katz, Cities Aviv, Traxman, Deafhaven, Liturgy, Blue Hawaii, and JD Samson (from Le Tigre). Dancing/moshing/footwork is a guarantee, a welcome stretch for the legs after the 6-hour commute from Richmond. Despite the distance, Pittsburgh may very well feel like a home away from home, another small city standing in the shadow of industrialization, where craft beers are king, and beards, tattoos, and tattoos of beards are a given. We can’t wait to go!
VIA starts tomorrow and runs through October 5th.