Friday, September 25th marked Television’s first performance in the city of Pittsburgh. The multi decade band, defined by their influence during the 1970’s punk era among musicians like The Talking Heads and Blondie, came together for a one night performance at Oakland’s Carnegie Music Hall.
Curator for the Andy Warhol Sound Series, Ben Harrison, was responsible for bringing the iconic band to our city. Television frontman, Tom Verlaine came to Pittsburgh in October 2014 for a solo performance that was part of “Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films.” It was at this point that he was asked to bring Television to our city for a rare North American appearance.
Friday night’s lineup included Tom Verlaine on guitar and vocals, Fred Smith on bass, Billy Ficca on drums and, their newest member, Jimmy Rip on lead guitar.
Television’s debut album “Marquee Moon” came out in 1977 and was hailed by fans and critics internationally. Television’s style has been described as a cleaned up improvisational homage to their punk contemporaries, drawing influence from “1960’s rock and avant-garde jazz.”
Their performance at Carnegie Music Hall drew a huge crowd including Pittsburgh’s very own Rick Sebak. Television opened with See No Evil, the first track off “Marquee Moon” which also appears, appropriately, in the end credits of the documentary “This Film is Not Yet Rated”. A good deal of Television’s collective works were performed with unexpected moments of improvised departures from the original music, such as a slowed down rendition of Psychotic Reaction, a song released in 1966 by The Count Five. The climax of the night was their first album’s title song, a legendary 10 minute piece which built steadily and left the audience on their feet.
The night ended with a memorable encore which included Little Johnny Jewel, Television’s vinyl debut single that was performed in two parts.
With their sporadic touring dates, Television may never return to Pittsburgh but continues to be a huge influence on musicians everywhere. With a relatively small discography they have managed to make a sizeable impact on punk and the music that followed the regenerative era.
To view the entire Carnegie Music Hall performance click here.