The venue, Mr. Smalls Theatre, a former church, makes the disorder of a dance party all the more fun. While Pittsburgh actually does have a healthy electronic music scene, rarely, if ever, are such events held at Smalls, a venue that mostly plays host to rock shows. Its high ceilings and plush VIP balcony turned the evening into something of a concert. With a crowd large enough to fill the church, every square foot of it was part of the party.
As a nod to Pittsburgh's burgeoning talent base, local up-and-comer Buku opened for the Dirtybird head. Buku has recently remixed a Starkey cut for Civil Music and had a track released on Slit Jockey Records. His sound is in line with Starkey's street bass ethos—raw and gritty with heavy bass and rap vocals, yet orchestral with glimmering moments of meticulous production. While Buku likes to work in the bass-y, rap-tinged end of things, he did dip into house territory with Duke Dumont's "Giver" and a smattering of others in that sultry vein.
VonStroke picked up smoothly from Buku, welcoming the crowd into his weird world of techno and house. The San Fran-based DJ is great at catching you off-guard with things like classic rock or '80s hip-hop—both dropped to great effect during his set. Afterwards he continued playing at the Sunday morning afterparty, appropriately dubbed Hot Mass, which relocated the crowd to a smaller club space downtown. Leaning on a stack of unreleased material, VonStroke kept on going for another three hours, until he eventually had to be peeled from the decks.
Photo credit: Jason Heckman