Profile: Spotlights (2019)

The band Spotlights played its first show in Pittsburgh in 2017, opening for Melvins at Rex Theater in South Side. At the time, the group – husband and wife team Mario and Sarah Quintero – lived in Brooklyn.

On Tuesday, July 16, the band will make its latest appearance in Pittsburgh, headlining Black Forge 2 in McKees Rocks. But, this time, they’ll be traveling from a little closer, namely their new home in Munhall.

“It’s our first show as a quote-unquote ‘local band,’” said Mario Quintero, 42, who sings and plays guitar and synthesizer in the band, a kind of post-metal response to the shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine. “Hopefully, there’s interest. We’re just excited to play here.”

More than 230 people moved from Brooklyn/Kings County, N.Y. to Pittsburgh/Allegheny County in 2015-16, the most recent year on record, according to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. That number might seem small but it nearly has quadrupled in the past 20 years.

“I think Pittsburgh is very welcoming compared to a lot of other cities, musically,” said Sarah Quintero, 37, who plays bass and sings in Spotlights. “Other than the people who like to hype themselves up, everyone’s cool.”

The Quinteros should know. Mario grew up in Miami, Sarah in Chicago. The two met when they both were living in San Diego. They moved to Brooklyn in 2013 to advance a previous band, Sleep Lady. Spotlights’ beginnings were far from luxurious; they played their first real gig at a now-gone club in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to their friend Mike – and Mike alone. Then, after some hard work and a little buzz, they started to break through, touring with Deftones and getting signed to Mike Patton’s Ipecac Records. The duo moved to Munhall in December.

“We don’t know anybody – we looked here and it just felt right,” Sarah Quintero said.

The Quinteros, who enjoy renting a home with a basement where their band can practice, say the Pittsburgh of 2019 reminds them more of Chicago than Brooklyn.

“Pittsburgh’s definitely transitioning – people are discovering the city more,” Sarah Quintero said.

“When people are, like, ‘Oh, all these hipsters!,’ I’m, like, ‘You have no idea!’” she laughed. “You’re still okay here.”

Tonight, the band is set to play material from its new record, Love & Decay, which came out in April. They will be joined by a third member – Chris Enriquez, the group’s new live drummer. Doors are at 7 p.m. The band Vampyre is opening.

Pittsburgh, though, is far from Spotlights’ only space for performance. Their tour, which kicked off July 12 in Lexington, Ky., will take them to the East and West coasts, and Canada, before ending in Chicago Aug. 11 at Subterranean.

For more information, visit Ipecac.com/artists/Spotlights – Justin Vellucci, Pittsburgh Current, July 16, 2019

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