For Giovanni Orsini and JJ Young, the Pittsburgh music scene is all about creating an inclusive community. That’s why in February 2019, Orsini, guitarist and singer in bands Giovanni Orsini and liqueurAnd the hex, And the normal ratThe group music has begun Steel Death Club With the help of Young and some other friends in Pittsburgh’s alternative rock scene.
The Death Club began with the intention of being a record label for young local alternative artists, but it soon grew into something multifaceted.
The collective hosts give live shows, they have a studio in the Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh where bands can record and mingle, and they have a series called Live at SCDC that chronicles live recordings of local and national bands from the studio in a style similar to a Seattle radio station. Famous live KEXP sessions.
Steel City Death Club currently represents 15 squads, including water wasteAnd the biteAnd the ugly blondesAnd the Nate CrossAnd the tough handcuffsas well as all the bands in which Orsini participates.
“I would like to say [Death Club is] Pittsburgh local music community group. Basically, just like the very enthusiastic attempt at trying to create platforms and more “industrial” stuff, Orsini says. “We wanted to create a group of people and artists who love the game, are very passionate, love the game, and really, just for the crafts we’re involved in, where we don’t need to pay money to play the shows.”
Orsini and Young, drummers of the bands Fortune Teller, Melt, BITE, Nate Cross, and Mind Mother, have been involved in the Pittsburgh music scene since they were students at Upper St. Clair High School. Orsini, now 24, shares that the “pay-per-play” model he and Young, now 26, had known when they first started performing, encouraged them to create their own way of performing.
At a pay-to-play party, teams have to buy a number of tickets from the promoter, and then sell them in order to perform the show. If they don’t sell all the tickets, that money comes out of their own pockets.
“This is familiar, and I get it, from a business perspective, but we just got tired of it, so we kind of swore by them and just did the DIY shows and it ended up being a success,” Orsini says.
Orsini and Young discuss “the scene” when they talk about the death club and the bands at the club. “Scene” refers to the local do-it-yourself music community – groups of bands that have staged shows in Auckland basements, suggesting spectators pay a $5-10 donation at the door, but there’s no minimum ticket sales. This way, bands will play without the stress and financial burden of selling tickets, and local music fans can watch groups of bands play for a low price.
A typical DIY show on the Pittsburgh scene would look like this – college students and young adults, tightly packed into a basement with a makeshift stage, plenty of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and plenty of sweat. The exact locations of these places remain unknown to the public due to lease violations and potential noise complaints that come with DIY House offerings. However, despite the secrecy, the shows have maintained their power on the Pittsburgh scene with new home venues bearing exotic names emerging every year. Previous venue names include Bushnell, Jelly Fox, Verona Café, and Ba Sing Si. Most, if not all, members of Steel City’s Death Club met by playing and attending performances in this scene.
The Death Club hosts a lot of DIY shows downstairs like this one, but has also been able to put on shows at places like Thunderbird Cafe and Mr. Smalls Theater without pay-to-play model. This is made possible by selling tickets directly to online audiences through Eventbrite and Sponsorship.
Next up for the Death Club are new Live at SCDC episodes, new music from multiple bands, and Friday Night Musical., October 14 Featuring Ugly Blondes, Melt, and a Water Trash in the Bottlerocket Social Hall.
For members of the Death Club, having the opportunity to play these shows in a welcoming but still passionate and dedicated environment is an inspiring and creative opportunity.
“A lot of people I know in bands, including myself, went to school for something completely different than playing music, so for a lot of these people, music and performances are their escape,” Young says. “all of these [people] They have a lot of passion and professionalism that drives them, with the only incentive that they want to do it, and I think that in itself is a good reason to be interested in the DIY scene and death club.”
As the Death Club continues to grow and the scene strengthens, Orsini and the rest of the club see a future filled with loud music and an expanded community.
“These types of spaces are very important because they are spaces that foster creativity and create some of my all-time favorite programming,” Orsini says. “We just want to make it possible to play and experience this, which is so important to all of us.”
Steel Death Club. steelcitydeathclub.com
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