Post Genre is hoping to solidify the Oakland music scene with a concert series
With distinctive yellow bricks and a “For Lease” sign on the door, an uninhabited church stands on the corner of Bates and Atwood in Oakland. In years past, it’s been home to a hookah lounge and a BBQ joint. But the congregation comes alive again on Saturday, Feb. 3 thanks to Live from Oakland, a concert series run by Post Genre, an organization trying to champion and solidify the neighborhood's music scene through hosting shows.
“We have an opportunity to create something that could actually last longer than us,” says Eli Alfieri, one of Post Genre’s co-founders and frontman for the band Wild Blue Yonder. “Step one is to further legitimize [this scene]. Ground zero for everything is working with bands from Oakland.”
The inaugural show at the former Holy Spirit Greek Catholic Church on Atwood will feature the pop punk of Heading North, jangly rock from 9FiftySeven, and the pop rock of Clay Coast, all of whom are mainstays at house shows on the University of Pittsburgh campus. Though the arrangement with the church space is a temporary one, Post Genre has announced two other all-ages shows on February 17 and March 3.
Like clockwork, DIY venues crop up around the University of Pittsburgh campus and then quickly disappear, leaving behind crucial memories and mythos around missed shows. After spending years booking or playing gigs, Alfieri, along with Mark Riggio and Adam Klenovich, founded Post Genre to build a lasting infrastructure for fellow younger artists. “There's no single person involved who has the skill set and all the resources that are necessary to create the events we’ve created,” says Alferi. “We needed each other to do this.”
Post Genre’s first event was last September’s Oakland Block Party, which brought together nine bands, local vendors and larger sponsorships for a day of music on Schenley Drive between the Carnegie and Hillman libraries. Running with that momentum, the organization launched the Live from Oakland series last fall, with support from Pittsburgh Innovation District, who helped Post Genre secure the space at 115 Atwood Street. Featuring favorites of Oakland house shows like Pitter Patter, Funky Lamp and Histrionic, the five concerts were attended by a total of over 400 people.
“We all worked so hard to make this series happen, countless amounts of hours of manual labor, loading, unloading, and setting up everything,” says Riggio, who also runs the production company 8Trak Entertainment. “It was awesome to have that full room –– to have all the people enjoy the work that we put in.”
That amount of effort and time is par for the course for Oakland musicians, where the scene of college-age musicians has thrived on organizing shows at now-defunct house venues like Rothko House or The Deli. After throwing gigs in backyards, Alfieri started looking at the church on Atwood two years ago. For Post Genre, a long-term space is a lofty but central goal. “The ideal scenario is, through grant funding, we're able to support a permanent, firmer space that is artist-oriented and not profit-oriented,” says Riggio. “Because of the location and the size, the church is a phenomenal venue. But even if something like that doesn’t work out, Pittsburgh is a big city. The Pittsburgh Innovation District has been helping us figure out a way in which we could continue this model in a space that would actually be leased.”
With bands like the fuzzed-out James Castle, Carnegie Mellon’s howling Cat Garage, and the sturdy post-punk of Valleyview, Oakland-centered groups haven’t always been welcome at Pittsburgh’s musical institutions. It’s not always easy to make the jump from playing in South Oakland to playing a large venue like Mr. Smalls Funhouse. “People don't really know that there's a thriving music community in Oakland if you aren’t a part of it,” says Alfieri. To show how feasible shows at Atwood could be, he told sponsors about booking shows in the past. “We [would] have shows in some parking lot, like Zulema or Dawson [Streets] and we can get 100 or 200 people out,” he explains.
The strength and devotion of the Oakland scene remains a source of optimism for Klenovich, who also books shows at Black Lodge, an all-ages space he runs in South Oakland. He, Riggio and Alfieri believe that preserving that DIY spirit is critical for Live from Oakland gigs. “It’s been an amazing experience to see how large it’s grown and how much people genuinely love this. To see them come to shows every single weekend at Black Lodge, they genuinely care about this,” says Klenovich. “Bringing it to the Atwood church is actually feasible because of the community.”
Post Genre will host the first show of Live from Oakland Vol. 2 on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m, with Heading North, Claycoast, and 9FiftySeven performing. Go to postgenre.world for tickets.