The Backfires, The Band Light, and Valleyview at Mr. Smalls Funhouse 7/14/23

The Backfires

The Backfires, a “rock band from both sides of the Atlantic,” visited Pittsburgh, PA for the first time on July 14, 2023. For their first stop of tour, the band played at the beloved Mr. Smalls Funhouse, located right outside of the city. With a blend of excitement and talented musicians, The Backfires delivered an unforgettable show that captivated many of Pittsburgh’s local concertgoers.

The band gives off a similar vibe as the Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes, with their alternative sound, catchy lyrics and upbeat instrumentals. They boast a dynamic lineup featuring Alex Gomez on guitar and as the lead vocalist, accompanied by Harry Ruprecht on lead guitar, Matt Walter on bass, and Max Wanduragala on drums. The band’s journey began back in 2018 when fate brought Alex, Harry, and Max together during Alex’s study abroad experience in London. Alex then knew it was time to bring in his lifelong friend Matt to play bass before they began to record their debut EP. Since then, they have relentlessly pursued their passion, recording their debut EP, and a bunch of singles. Now, united in the vibrant city of New York, The Backfires are all set and ready to keep making music! 

Throughout the show, The Backfires played mostly original songs, such as their latest release “Joyride,” and one of their most popular songs, “Blindsided.” Towards the end of their set, they played a cover of “R U Mine?” by the Arctic Monkeys. This was a great song for them to cover, especially since the song fits their style. Some of the fans in the crowd knew every word to every song on the setlist, and it was clear how that shifted the atmosphere of the show. The band members could feel the genuine love and support from their devoted audience, which in turn allowed them to perform with a sense of ease and comfort. The concert created lasting memories for many, particularly for the Pittsburgh fans who had eagerly awaited The Backfires’ arrival in their city. On the other hand, for those unfamiliar with The Backfires, the show served as a perfect introduction to the band’s sound and style. Amidst all of the new bands currently touring, The Backfires’ performance truly stood out, leaving a lasting impression on the crowd. Be sure to check them out on Instagram, @thebackfires, and listen to their music on your favorite streaming platform!


The show kicked off with a performance from local band Valleyview, who identify their music as “Pittsburgh Post Punk.” They proved to be a great choice for energizing the crowd and they helped create the atmosphere for the event. Consisting of members Jesse Farine on lead vocals and guitar, Jared Anderson on the lead guitar, Ethan Herring on bass, and Benjamin Volk on the drums, the band showed a seamless connection to each other as they played.

Initially, the crowd seemed hesitant to fully engage with the band. The concert goers were nervous to get close to the stage, and many of them seemed reserved. However, by the end of their performance, people were enthusiastically jumping and dancing along. What started as a timid audience gradually evolved into a vibrant and enthusiastic crowd. The energy that Valleyview generated played a vital role, completely shifting the room’s atmosphere from feeling defensive and anxious to one of shared excitement. It was clear that both the crowd and the band had a blast, and that many of the audience members were going to be listening to Valleyview on their way home from the show. Their performance not only left a lasting impression on the crowd but also showcased their potential as a band. 

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience their music firsthand. Head over to their Instagram page, @valleyview.pgh, and be sure to check out their latest single “American Windmill,” now available on popular streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. 

The Band Light

Next to the stage was The Band Light, an indie-rock band opening on tour with The Backfires for their first few shows. The band consists of Konner Dolberry (lead vocals), Trevor Moon (drums), Garrett Goodrich (lead guitar), and Jack Glenn (bass). Each member brought their own unique flair to the stage, making for a captivating set.

With a similar sound and feel as Harry Styles and 5 Seconds Of Summer, The Band Light brought a different mood to the night. Their stage presence was very relaxed and light, but it fit their music well. The moment they took the stage, their essence was felt through the crowd; each member’s style and confident energy was felt instantly. They played a mix of original and cover songs, including one of Harry Styles’ “Medicine,” which made the crowd go wild. Throughout the crowd, bursts of screams erupted, and many began to sing along. As the band finished out their set, it was clear that the audience really enjoyed both The Band Light’s music and overall theatrics. To stay up-to-date with their shows and new music, check out The Band Light on Instagram, @thebandlightofficial.

Words by Ella Donovan along with photos by Madalyn Schaller

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