Union Trust Building + 14 Venues

October 1 – 5
Various times

The future of music has arrived and it can be seen, heard and felt this week during the 5th annual VIA Music & New Media Festival.

Setting up shop from October 1st through October 5th at 15 distinct venues around Pittsburgh, the first-of-its-kind Pittsburgh festival is presenting some 75 cutting-edge audio and visual artists from around the globe, and from our own backyard. Within uniquely curated showcases designed to pair emerging artists with veteran pioneers who work across a variety of multi-disciplinary art, music and tech platforms, VIA presents next level makers and producers, from sound artists to software developers.

For its highly anticipated fifth installment, VIA unveils its largest festival to date in terms of all programming aspects, including number of artists and venues, promoter partners, variety of artists and new components. VIA’s expanded format includes a free, all-ages conference at Carnegie Mellon on Oct. 3rd, a dozen collaborative events with local art, nightlife and educational organizations, a concurrent mini-fest in Chicago, a neighborhood crawl in Lawrenceville, a series of Soundcloud playlists, and more.

Events are designed to span a wide range of formats and presentation styles, from live music with original visual and video art, documentary film screenings, lectures and an art exhibition, to workshops, a youth night, after-parties and virtual reality activities.

Anchoring its weekend-long activities in Downtown’s historic Union Trust building, VIA 2014 will also draw festival-goers to a variety of intimate and larger locations around the city, including Carnegie Mellon, Altar Bar, The Rex Theater, The Shop, Row House Cinema, Belvedere’s, Thunderbird Cafe, 720 Records, Cattivo and more.

On the sound end of the VIA spectrum, this festival truly offers something for everyone—with artists and acts spanning electro-pop, LGBTQ hip-hop, Balkan brass and techno, to death metal, experimental noise, dark wave and indie rock.

Not to miss are headlining sets by Deafheaven (San Francisco), Zebra Katz (NYC), Blue Hawaii (Montreal), Real Estate (Brooklyn), L-Vis 1990 (London), Liturgy (Brooklyn), Traxman (Chicago), Richard Devine (Atlanta), Bambounou (Paris), Cakes Da Killa (NYC) and JD Samson (Brooklyn).

It all kicks off on October 1st at Cattivo, with an A/V showcase activating both floors of the Lawrenceville club, featuring MikeQ, Normaling, Badboxes, TT The Artist, Depth One and more. Over the festival’s jam packed five days and nights, this is your chance to catch top international acts who rarely perform locally.

VIA-goers will also step into immersive light, sound and art installations, test out their gaming skills, explore virtual realities in playful settings, explore festival happenings and city spaces using a new mobile app called PEEK (read: augmented reality graffiti), learn hands-on tip for using digital audio technologies firsthand, and discover a fresh new take on Pittsburgh’s vibrant nightlife.

Launched in 2010, VIA’s city-wide “festival as laboratory” approach evolves each year, as the event’s curators respond to figures and forces shaping contemporary music and media and global aesthetics and practices. The festival’s annual week-long format in early October allows for a fluid and collaborative approach that provides audiences with a window into emerging art forms, and invites the public to actively participate in the intersection of the gallery, studio, laboratory and nightclub.

Consistently drawing accolades and top rankings by international tastemaking music blogs such as Resident Advisor and Red Bull Music Academy, VIA is member of International Cities of Advanced Sound, alongside notable likeminded festivals such as Mutek, Unsound and Decibel. Putting Pittsburgh on the global festival map, VIA’s underlying mission also includes a desire to spotlight the city’s inherent strengths in terms of talent, venues and collaboration.

VIA’s Main Event: Saturday, October 4th at the Union Trust Building

Don’t miss the change to party in a Gilded Age landmark, when VIA sets up its festival HQ in the historic Union Trust Building. For its Saturday A/V showcase, which serves as the festival’s main event, VIA’s artists and event curators will transform a variety of spaces on the building’s first floor and lower level that have long been closed to the public. Bringing VIA’s vision for art, tech and nightlife in Pittsburgh is helping to activate the landmark at a pivotal time when the property stands poised to enter its next phase of redevelopment.

Located at 501 Grant Street downtown, the historic Union Trust building was constructed during Pittsburgh’s Gilded Age, designed by renowned Pittsburgh architect Frederick J. Osterling, and built by industrialist Henry Clay Frick from 1915-1916. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the iconic 11-story landmark was purchased at a Sheriff’s auction in 2014 by the Boston-based Davis Companies, whose CEO Jonathan Davis is a Squirrel Hill native.

Festival-goers will step into a massive 30-foot bubble—which VIA will construct within the building’s dazzling central rotunda, all capped off by its historic stained glass dome. The immersive audio-visual environment was developed with support from Carnegie Mellon’s school of Drama and Entertainment Technology Center.

Once inside a former department store—transformed by VIA into a digital sculpture gallery—attendees can experiment with virtual and real life experiences using custom and hacked mobile apps, indie video games, virtual figure drawing, Second Life and the Oculus Rift. In designing the night’s activities, VIA commissioned interactive projects in collaboration with artist/avatar LaTurbo Avedon, Vince McKelvie and Craig Scheuer.

The lower level Union Trust building will house a multi-stage nightclub for the night’s audio-visual showcases. Featured performers include breakout artists Zebra Katz (NYC), Blue Hawaii (Montreal), L-Vis 1990 (London), Traxman (Chicago), Cakes da Killa (NYC), Cities Aviv (Memphis) Diode Milliampere (Milwalkee) and Troxum (Pittsburgh). Artists from Undervolt & Co., a visual label for experimental video art, are teaming up with the musicians and have been commissioned to create custom live visuals for each set.

And the fun does not end there. Help wrap up VIA’s festivities and your weekend, with a showcase featuring nationally touring musicians Steve Gunn (NYC), Circuit Des Yeux (Louisville) and the Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler Duo (Philadelphia) at The Thunderbird on Sunday, October 5th.

Follow VIA on Facebook for the latest updates about featured artists, venues and event times.

View a complete VIA Festival schedule.

Purchase passes and tickets.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.