Besides Bruce Springsteen? 99% of music fans knew whether or not they wanted to see Bruce perform the entire River album the moment it was announced that he’d be playing Consol January 16, and nothing we could write would sway you either way. With that in mind, here are ten concerts (besides The Boss) worth checking out in Pittsburgh in January.
Wednesday, January 13. 8 p.m.
Spirit – 242 51st St.
Another month, another hot buzz band at Spirit that’s on the verge of blowing up. This time, it’s Brooklyn garage rock/punk band Honduras. The four-piece just released their first album, Rituals, in September, but by then they had already opened for Blur and premiered a track in Rolling Stone. Their quick-fire, angular riffs and pummeling drums should please fans of Parquet Courts and the Sex Pistols alike.
Thursday, January 14. 6:30 p.m.
Smiling Moose (Upstairs) – 1306 E. Carson St.
Speaking of buzz bands, Toronto’s Grounders made their Pittsburgh debut just two months ago when they played (where else?) Spirit. Like Honduras, Grounders has released a pair of well-received EPs before dropping their debut LP just this year. Indie-pop, psych-pop, electro-pop–whatever, it calls to mind Congratulations-era MGMT, with a touch of Mac DeMarco’s blissful haze.
Lamb of God, with Anthrax, Deafheaven
Friday, January 15. 7 p.m.
Stage AE – 400 North Shore Drive
Whoever put this lineup together must be trying to unite metal’s disparate factions into some unholy alliance of brutality. Black metal band Deafheaven, probably the genre’s first ever crossover artist, visit Pittsburgh for the first time since their unforgettable midnight performance at VIA 2014. They open for thrash metal legends Anthrax, who in turn open for the headliners, Lamb of God, who might just be the heaviest band on the planet. There have been some heavy-hitting metal bills through Pittsburgh in recent memory (Mastodon/Gojira/Kvelertak, anyone?), but nothing quite like this. Warm up the circle pit.
Strip District Music Festival
Saturday, January 16. Noon until 2 a.m.
Strip District. All over.
There’s no better crash course to the Pittsburgh music scene than an all-day festival. Now in its second year, the Strip District Music Festival is blowing up in a big way. Over 150(!) local artists at over 20 venues. There’s a hip-hop stage, a DJ stage, live podcasts, food trucks, a comedy stage… did we mention over 150 performers? From Altar Bar to Wigle Whiskey to Gaucho Parrilla, this is one giant smorgasbord of Pittsburgh music, with something to please everyone’s musical tastes. Stay tuned for a longer preview, but in the meantime check out the SDMF Facebook page for a full list of venues and a schedule of performers.
Monday, January 18. 8 p.m.
Club Cafe – 56-58 S. 12th St.
Mackenzie Scott was drawing Sharon van Etten comparisons even before she appeared on van Etten’s Are We There album and opened for her on tour. Now, Scott, who performs as Torres, is on to her second LP and the limelight is all her own. The album, Sprinter, was co-produced by longtime PJ Harvey collaborator Rob Ellis and features contributions from Portishead’s Adrian Utley. It’s an album of stark beauty; you’ll see it mentioned on many “Best of 2015” year-end album lists.
Building a Better Robot, feat. The Gotobeds
Friday, January 22. 7 p.m.
The Roboto Project – 5106 Penn Ave.
No one has more fun at a Gotobeds concert than The Gotobeds. Knocking each others hats off, kicking the singer’s mic stand so it busts him in the chops, you’d never expect a punk band to be so tight. The recent Sub Pop signees headline a benefit for Pittsburgh’s estimable DIY venue, the Mr. Roboto Project, with support from Dream Phone, Blød Maud, and Mrs. Paintbrush (aka half of Grand Buffett). Money from the show will go into a “scholarship” fund for kids and promoters outside of the scene to rent out Roboto.
Saturday, January 23. 7 p.m.
The Mattress Factory – 500 Sampsonia Way
Half of Run Forever live in Philadelphia now, but we won’t hold it against them. Originally from Braddock, the four-piece is back in town for a benefit for Girls Rock! Pittsburgh, the local music-making/self-empowerment program for young women. The band’s latest, self-titled album, is their first on the well-regarded No Sleep Records label and first LP in three years. It is far and away their best work yet, as the band abandons pop-punk tropes and fully comes into their own. Dream Phone and Free Cake For Every Creature open. This is a steal at just $5.
Saturday, January 23. 7:30 p.m.
Carnegie Lecture Hall – 6300 Fifth Avenue
“A bluesman abroad” ranks pretty high on the list of “coolest careers possible.” Eric Bibb grew up in New York City in a family steeped in the Greenwich Village folk scene. Paul Robeson was his godfather, and he counted Odetta a personal friend. At a young age, Bob Dylan encouraged him to keep his guitar playing simple, and at 19 Bibb moved to Paris before settling in to Stockholm. Today, Bibb lives in Helsinki and travels the world playing acoustic blues guitar. His most recent album, Lead Belly’s Gold, is a collection of Lead Belly covers by him and french harmonica player, Jean-Jacques Milteau.
Monday, January 25. 7:30 p.m.
Benedum Center – 237 7th St.
Back in July, Jeff Tweedy surprised everybody when Wilco suddenly and unexpectedly released their first studio album in four years, Star Wars, for free online. The cover art was a cute, fluffy cat, a good indication of the band’s looser, carefree approach. The Independent called it “possibly the most unusual, exploratory work of the band’s existence,” and Pitchfork dubbed their best album in ten years. This will sell out soon, so get your tickets fast.
Saturday, January 30. 8 p.m.
August Wilson Center – 980 Liberty Ave.
Fans of soul music (and great music in general) are being spoiled by the Cultural Trust’s new Soul Session concerts, which brings in some of the genre’s top artists for intimate performances at the August Wilson Center. First was Grammy-winner Gregory Porter, followed by British chart-topper Marsha Ambrosius. The series continues in 2016 with two-time Grammy nominee, Eric Roberson. Erro has released a string of top-notch neo-soul albums on his own Blue Erro label, and many have climbed the R&B charts despite him being an unsigned artist.
- They Can Cover Their Ears But We Won’t Stop Screaming, a benefit concert for Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, is at Altar Bar January 8. Four local bands perform.
- Gaslight Anthem lead singer Brian Fallon embarks performs at Altar Bar January 12 in support of his debut solo LP, Painkillers.
- Twangy Texas indie-pop act Wild Child visits the Rex Theater January 14.
- The Warhol Museum’s winter Sound Series kicks off January 15 with avant-garde singer/electronic artist GABI (aka Gabrielle Herbst), with support from Pittsburgh dream-pop trio Sleep Experiments.
- Catch Nashville singer/songwriter Julien Baker‘s stark and somber ballads at Club Cafe January 19, with local openers Cold Weather.
- Pittsburgh’s Zack Wiesinger is a monster on guitar, and he has previously toured w/ Steve Vai. Check out his band, Misaligned Mind, at their album release show January 22 at Altar Bar, with support from Devin Moses and The Saved, and Gene Stovall’s Terrible Trio.
- You’d probably expect death metal from a band named Graveyard, but the Swedish four-piece churns out DVE-friendly, 70s-style hard rock. See them at Mr. Smalls January 26.
- Creed’s Scott Stapp is at Altar Bar January 27, but everybody knows the main event happens earlier that afternoon in the McDonald’s parking lot.
- From South Dakota, blues-rock band Indigenous is at the Hard Rock Cafe January 28.
- From Texas, singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham visits Mr. Smalls January 30, for a concert presented by WYEP.
- Kick off the New Year with gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello, who play back to back shows in DC January 1st and 2nd.
- A Sunny Day in Glasgow celebrates the release of their new EP with a brief, four date tour, including a show in DC Sunday, January 3rd.
- On Saturday, January 9th, eleven different bands play the noise-punk extravaganza Blistering Ephemera II, in Philadelphia, headlined by Xiu Xiu and Downtown Boys.
- Speaking of noise-punk, METZ play DC Monday, January 11th and Philadelphia January 12th, with support both nights from Bully (who played Brillobox in October).
- Lower Dens, last in town for VIA, play a pair of back to back shows in Baltimore, Friday, January 15th and Saturday, January 16th, followed by a date in Columbus Thursday, January 21st.
- G-Easy is on tour with A$AP Ferg. Catch them in Detroit Sunday, January 17th.
- Super awesome British party fun time band The Go! Team visit DC Saturday, January 23rd and Philadelphia the 24th.
- Why not spend an evening with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis? Sunday, January 24th in Upper Darby and Tuesday the 26th in DC.
- The one and only, Ani DiFranco, performs in Annapolis Monday, January 25th.
- Yo La Tengo played an acoustic show in Pittsburgh last September. See them go electric Saturday, January 30th in Columbus.
Looking for more Pittsburgh happenings? Check out our 10 Pittsburgh events not to miss in January.
Searching for family fun? Don’t miss our Top family adventures in Pittsburgh this January.