Get Hip is a record label and distributor located in the gritty city of Pittsburgh, PA. I bet you’re thinking, “what could possibly be hip about Pittsburgh?” Well, let me tell you, as a native Pittsburgher, that city is the shit!
All photos courtesy of Barbara Garcia-Bernardo.
It’s great for several reasons: One, it’s landlocked and not a tourist hotspot, so only the coolest of the cool cats end up there. Two, it’s got a killer underground music scene—just a few old-school staple Pittsburgh punk bands you need to know are Carsickness, The Cynics, The Bats, and The Five. Three, it’s got a growing population of young people starting their own businesses; if you don’t believe me just venture on down to Lawrenceville, where tons of new bars, venues, movie theaters, and cafés have popped up from people who have moved there from places like Brooklyn. Four, it’s housed some pretty kick-ass people, for instance, Andy Warhol, Christina Aguilera, the inventor of the Polio vaccine, Jonas Salk, the inventor of the Ferris Wheel, George Ferris Jr., and, of course, me! And lastly, five, the Mayans deemed it a safe haven during the end of their calendar; so basically, Pittsburgh is the only place where you can survive the end of the world.
Those are just a few reason I think Pittsburgh is badass, but there are millions more.
To get straight to it, I went back for Thanksgiving and made sure to catch Get Hip’s Open House and Record Listening Party! I had been hearing a lot of buzz about the place and the music it’s spitting out—with clients such as Jonny Couch, Paint Fumes, and The Cynics, I had to swing by!
I found out a few things: Get Hip is run by a lot of great people who have impeccable taste in music. It was founded in 1985 by Gregg Kostelich, Michael Kastelic, and Bill von Hagen—all from The Cynics, and they’re all friends with my parents… (Ok, but like, I’ve got really cool parents).
Dad & I!
The event provided free beer and surprise acoustic sets from some of their musicians. When I first arrived I was able to catch the end of Slim Forsythe, who plays old school country and has been for decades now, so you know he has perfected it.
Frank Secich took the stage next and played some of his classic hits. Secich is from the ’70s power-pop rock’n’ roll band Blue Ash, and Dead Boys, a legendary punk rock band in any scene, as well as the Deadbeat Poets—in all, he’s a really decorated rock’n’roll/punk rock musician.
Secich plays for an audience
Lastly, Zack Keim took the stage—a young rock star in the making. Only 19-years-old, he not only works at Get Hip, but he also plays in the band Nox Boys, and is currently working on a solo album. His set gave off a very Lou Reed/early Bob Dylan vibe. Keim has an old school sounding voice that really adds to the all around general impressiveness of his guitar strumming. It’s probably a good idea to keep an eye on this guy!
After the performances Kostelich allowed me to peek into the vault—a literal vault, like old-school bank style vault, which has aisles and aisles of some of the world’s rarest records. It was a beautiful and overwhelming moment.
Before I left, they gave me some of their newest releases on vinyl, Maggie’s Marshmallows, Paint Fumes, Viv & The Sect, Weird Omen, and of course, a Cynic’s vinyl. I hadn’t heard of most of them, that’s because they reside in many different parts of the world like Prague and France. The first thing I did when I got home was throw them on the record player, and damn, I was not disappointed.
I highly suggest everyone to go check out all those guys, and perhaps just peruse the Get Hip bandcamp to find your new favorite artist!