April has it all, from hip-hop legends to Balkan Brass to the “coolest young band in NYC.” Get out there and enjoy one (or more) of these Pittsburgh concerts. You’ll be glad that you did.
Friday, April 1. 7 p.m.
Stage AE. 400 N. Shore Dr.
In an ideal world, this show wouldn’t be happening. Instead, Maynard James Keenan would be in the studio, with the rest of Tool, putting the finishing touches on the hyper-anticipated follow-up to 2006’s 10,000 Days. The new Tool album may soon happen anyway (or maybe not), but in the meantime, Puscifer, Maynard’s other side-project, is slowly coming into its own. The band’s newest album, Money Shot, is their most well-rounded to date. Maynard doesn’t like fans to have any expectations going into his live sets, but if recent reviews are any indication expect a lucha libre spectacular that is equal parts music and performance art.
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
Friday, April 8. 9 p.m.
Mr. Smalls. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale
Four albums in and Thao Nguyen has released her strongest album to date, with a little help from her friend, Merrill Garbus, aka tUnE-yArDs. Garbus is credited as producer on A Man Alive, a 12-track carousel of an album that Pitchfork called the album “her most rhythmically robust and gleefully discordant release to date.” Some of tracks might remind you of the upbeat numbers on the self-titled St. Vincent album; however, most of the lyrics center around Nguyen’s father, who left the family when Thao was a child.
Saturday, April 9. 7 p.m.
Smiling Moose (upstairs). 1306 E. Carson St.
Shh, do you hear something buzzing? No, it’s not all those urban beekeepers; it’s Sunflower Bean, “NYC’s Coolest Young Band” said Rolling Stone, a week before the release of their first album, Human Ceremony. One of the things that set the trio apart are co-vocalists Nick Kivlen and Julia Cumming, who trade off on the mic during songs. None of the members are even 21 yet but they have already toured with Diiv and The Vaccines. As for that first album? Human Ceremony is receiving solid reviews across the board. Judge for yourself if it’s worthy of the hype:
Friday, April 15. 7:30 p.m.
Altar Bar. 1620 Penn Ave.
Kvelertak is Norwegian for “stranglehold” and that ought to give you a pretty good idea of what this show is all about. Erlend Hjelvik, the band’s vocalist, is the centerpiece, combining the raw punk ferocity of Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham with the cataclysmic screams of Deafheaven’s George Clarke. Expect to hear songs from their new album, Nattesferd, which comes out this May. The new single, “1985,” like many Kvelertak songs, is surprisingly melodic. Opening are metal brethren Torche and Roadrunner labelmates Wild Throne.
Sunday, April 17. 9 p.m.
Spirit. 242 51st St.
The only other time Parquet Courts played Pittsburgh was in early January 2013, at Kopec’s (where Pints on Penn stands today), just one week before the re-release of their previously self-released breakthrough album, Light Up Gold. Between then and now, the Brooklyn-via-Texas punks were named 2014’s “Band of the Year” by Spin. They’ve also been prolific: two albums (one as “Parkay Quarts”), two EPs and another LP coming this April. If the first two singles are any indication, the new album, Human Performance, marks the next step in the band’s evolution. But rather than stick with the experimental approach taken on Monastic Living , it seems like they’re going with an updated version of the sly garage-rock found on Sunbathing Animal. Check it out: