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The Pitt News

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First-year guard Carlton Carrington (7) dribbles against Louisville in the Petersen Events Center on Feb. 17.
Pitt men’s basketball cannot afford a slip up against Florida State
By Jack Markowski, Senior Staff Writer • March 3, 2024

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First-year guard Carlton Carrington (7) dribbles against Louisville in the Petersen Events Center on Feb. 17.
Pitt men’s basketball cannot afford a slip up against Florida State
By Jack Markowski, Senior Staff Writer • March 3, 2024

WPTS spreads the love at Nordy’s for Valentine’s Day showcase

Simon+Sweeney+of+Histrionic+plays+at+the+WPTS+Valentine%E2%80%99s+Day+Showcase+on+Friday+night+in+Nordy%E2%80%99s+Place.
Liam Sullivan | Staff Photographer
Simon Sweeney of Histrionic plays at the WPTS Valentine’s Day Showcase on Friday night in Nordy’s Place.

WPTS Radio’s Valentine’s Dance Showcase brought Pittsburgh’s local music scene to Nordy’s Place last Friday night. The showcase, which was free and open to the public, featured original music by Pittsburgh-based rock bands dogmeat, eyewash and Histrionic

The WPTS Valentine’s showcase spotlighted local bands who commanded the stage from the first chord strummed to the last word sung. The speakers amplifying the bands’ already booming vocals and guitars could not drown out the crowd’s chatter and laughter with the sound of rogue pingpong balls bouncing on the floor. 

While the air may have been thick with noise instead of love, the Valentine’s Day spirit was evident in the rose and magenta streamers draped haphazardly around the support beams, a Valentine’s Day banner and Histrionic’s cover of “Valentine” by The Replacements.

Andrew Klepeis, a senior political science major and the WPTS outreach assistant manager, said the motivation behind booking Pittsburgh-based bands for the showcase was twofold — close proximity meant less hassle for the bands, and it gave the radio an opportunity to showcase local talent. 

“[Booking local bands] is for convenience, because it’s really easy to get people who live close to pack up their stuff on a Friday night and get over and play for an hour,” Klepeis said. “Also, we do play local music. We play a local song at the end of every hour, and we always try and highlight really good local artists.”

One of the three local bands that performed on Friday was Histrionic, a rock trio consisting of brothers Simon and Jude Sweeney and their longtime friend Isaac Winograd. Winograd, the band’s drummer, was unable to play at the showcase, so junior computer science major Drew Puszko replaced him for the night.

Histrionic formed in 2014 and played for a few years before taking a four-year break, later then reuniting. Simon Sweeney, lead vocalist and guitarist for Histrionic, said they came back together around 2022. Since then, they have been working toward a studio album.

“We got back together about a year and a half ago and started playing again and have been playing now for almost a year,” Sweeney said. “The whole year of playing shows has been kind of directed towards getting enough money to go record and we’re making an album right now.”

With their music not yet on streaming platforms like Apple Music or Spotify, Histrionic plays small gigs. Simon Sweeney said the reciprocity of passion between themselves and the crowd is his favorite part of performing live.

“If we get a good crowd, that’s the best thing,” Sweeney said. “We’re playing pretty loud, so if we can get that back it feels great.”

Sweeney said the main challenge for them is the prospect of playing to an unresponsive crowd.

“When you can’t get the room into it is the biggest challenge,” Sweeney said. “You’re just like ‘I guess I’m just gonna play, I just can’t even think about it, I’m just gonna play, and we’re gonna say thank you and goodbye.’”

While Histrionic faces challenges on stage, the radio station’s main challenge is getting bands there in the first place. Klepeis said booking the bands is a tall task.

“Working with musicians is a nightmare. I think any musician would admit that,” Klepeis said, laughing. “They’re flaky [and] they drop out.”

Nevertheless, Klepeis said WPTS plans to put on the Valentine’s showcase next year. In the meantime, he said they will have another showcase, or even multiple, before the year ends.

“Yeah, we’ll do it again, absolutely,” Klepeis said. “We’re going to do at least one more showcase before the end of the year in Nordy’s.”

Klepeis helped book the show with WPTS promotions director and senior English writing major Mina Beach. He said Beach and her team were behind the idea of a showcase that’s reminiscent of terrible school dances, albeit reimagined and improved. 

“My promotions director Mina and her staff kind of had the idea of like … remember how bad middle school Valentine’s dances were? What if we kind of reclaimed that, made it more of a fun thing now that we’re all kind of adults?” Klepeis said. 

There were varying degrees of dedication to the formality of the night, as audience members sported everything from sweatpants and Hawaiian shirts to angel wings and red heart sunglasses. For the majority of the showcase, especially dogmeat’s opening set, the crowd was a sea of nodding heads and timidly tapping feet. However, by Histrionic’s closing set, there was less stoicism and more relaxed dancing and headbanging.

Klepeis said the faux formality of the dance clashing with the abrasive genre of music they booked was an intentional decision. 

“The juxtaposition of having these heavier kind of rock bands, while you’re dressed up [in] formal wear … we just thought it was funny,” Klepeis said.

Jake Thomas, a first-year architecture major, attended the showcase on the recommendation of his friend. Thomas said WPTS Radio’s affinity for music outside the mainstream provides him with the opportunity to broaden his horizons.

“I know the radio always has different and interesting music,” Thomas said. “It definitely gets me out of my comfort zone.”

Thomas said of the three bands, he found eyewash to be the most compelling because elements of their performance were unfamiliar to him. 

“I liked eyewash because they started with all the screaming and I’d never really heard that before, so I liked that,” Thomas said. “It was kind of exciting.”

About the Contributor
Daniella Levick, Staff Writer
Daniella Levick is a first-year English poetry writing major. She is Australian, a shameless Oxford comma enthusiast and crazy cat lady who spends an embarrassing amount of time trying to stop her kitten from walking on her keyboard. In her free time she daydreams about a parallel universe where her to-be-read pile is not taller than her.