VIA Festival Review
The VIA Music and New Media Festival is a Pittsburgh-based creative collective that stretches the meaning of what it means to be a festival. It’s something more than music, caught in the space between the collaborative a/v performances, exhibitions, mobile events and lectures. In a week-long celebration it integrates itself with the city while showing off the people who define what’s next in music, art, and culture.
From Joe Hamilton’s intricate Hyper Geography to the versatile Bulgarian DJ KiNK to the experimental feature length film “twohundredfiftysixcolors,” VIA brought together truly talented artists and set them loose in venues spread across Pittsburgh. And in that pack of innovators no one stood out quite as much as ADULT.
ADULT. may be from Detroit but the duo of Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller are everything VIA wants for Pittsburgh’s music scene. They have impressive genius in winding together audio and visual to make something more than the sum of their parts. And while their September exhibition at the Mattress Factory – titled Diptyching and combining equal degrees of the grotesque and the humorous – is a visceral, confusing and destabilizing experience, their performance at VIA was infectiously delightful. Not a soul in the building could resist the urge to dance when the stern-looking duo took the stage. ADULT. produces the kind of music that makes one lean over to a friend and shout, “I feel like I’m in a German videogame!”
ADULT. was a perfect complement to VIA’s new venue in East Liberty, 5854 Baum Blvd. The rooms wind around themselves, depositing festival-goers in jousting matches, new dance floors and walls taken up by moving kawaii anime girls. Just like the music, it was something to get lost in. The main stage ADULT. was a beautifully eerie play of light and color on fabric placed in front of the artists performing.
With those shapes and patterns skittering across their faces, Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus were style personified. He was calm and detached behind his synthesizer while Kuperus pressed toward the crowd and mumbled nonsense into her microphone. For someone who can pull off the short bang with surprising intensity she was loose-limbed and relaxed. They enjoyed themselves and we enjoyed watching them. When they finished I was breathless and grinning with the rest of the crowd.
I look forward to watching their progress. ADULT. will not only continue touring but install a new gallery exhibition “Situations/S(h)ituations” opening Nov. 8th at the Center Galleries in Detroit.
As for VIA, it will continue collaborating with the up and coming artists to bring us more of the new and unexpected.
Photo Credit to Jerome Charles