Northside Festival has ended

Wise Blood

Pittsburgh producer Chris Laufman is unusually gifted at taking bits of other people’s music and warping them, refitting them towards fiercely personal ends. As Wise Blood (the name referencing Flannery O’Connor’s first novel), he cuts up and recontextualizes samples to create Panda Bear-influenced pop, with mixed-up, braggadocious lyrics given urgent, hip-hop immediacy. Take a track like “B.I.G. E.G.O.” for example, how it uses a towering Led Zeppelin drum sound, but de-emphasizes it, somehow making it subtle background to sunny pop. He’s not intimidated by drafting the Beatles to be his backing band. In actual performance he’s now usually augmented by a few other musicians, freeing him to be the electric front man to his own bedroom compositions. His wild-man stage presence neatly sidesteps the dilemma of laptop-based music becoming a staid live experience. Laufman can be unpredictable, intense, ridiculous, sometimes petulant. He’s leapt from a balcony or two.

My Artists Sessions

Saturday, June 16