We love the fact that there are so many great music shows coming in August and September. It wasn’t easy to narrow down this list, but here are our picks for the best ones to catch during the next two months. And don’t forget to check out our guide to summer music festivals.
Aug. 1, Heart, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Elle King: KeyBank Pavilion, Burgettstown
Catch two of the greatest rock bands of any era this summer at KeyBank Pavilion. Joan Jett, in particular, seems to have given birth to entire genres of music, while Heart is a singular act with an impressive legacy of hits. We’re guessing you’ll be singing along.
Aug. 6, Ben Folds, Violent Femmes: Stage AE, North Side
It’s always seemed a bit rebellious to build pop songs around just a piano and a voice, instead of guitar riffs or samplers. But Ben Folds has been pounding out piano ballads and the occasional up-tempo rocker since the days when people still bought CDs. He’s curiously paired here with the Violent Femmes, who share a similar penchant for wit and precision — though, of course, with lots more guitars.
Aug. 7, Lucinda Williams: Byham Theater, Downtown
Williams is a folk, blues, rock and country songwriting legend who has won Grammys and every other award for her songs. She’ll be performing in Pittsburgh with her band Buick 6 for the 20th anniversary of her classic album “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.”
Aug. 7, Cimarrón, Gavas Beat, DJ Pandemic: Spirit, Lawrenceville
Leaders of the new wave of traditional joropo dance music from Colombia, Cimarrón blends indigenous American, Andalusian flamenco and African influences into a singular high-energy sound that’s driven by guitars, harp, tribal whistles and the band’s stomping feet.
Aug. 10, Chris Stapleton, Marcus King Band, Margo Price: KeyBank Pavilion, Burgettstown
Chris Stapleton is at the forefront of a new breed of country music which prizes honest expression above country-fried cliches. He’ll have his work cut out for him sharing a stage with opener Margo Price, whose raw and real music is full of beautiful heartbreak.
Aug. 11, Black Flag, Linecutters: Rex Theater, South Side
Maybe you missed them when they tore a bloody hole through the Electric Banana back in the day. (And if you didn’t — wow, go you!) Either way, catch this show, likely to be the closest you’ll ever get to those chaotic gigs when punk and hardcore were still screaming from the agony of their birth. No, it’s not the same without Henry Rollins, etc. It can’t be.
Aug. 11, Common: Roxian Theatre, McKees Rocks
Now perhaps known best as a TV pitchman (please don’t tell me about how AI will change my life, Common. I get it.) and movie star, Common started his career as one of the most thoughtful and deft rappers in the game. He’s also a great live act, and his rapid-fire freestyling ability seems augmented by some sort of artificial intelligence (hmmm …).
Aug. 13, The Raconteurs: Stage AE, North Side
Jack White is one of the few remaining celebrities working in the rock idiom (what they used to call a “rock star”), and he’s back with his second-best known band (not The White Stripes). After an eight-year hiatus, they’re back on tour with some actual new music.
Aug. 14, Sir Mix-a-Lot: Jergel’s Rhythm Grille, North Hills
He likes big butts, and do not expect him to lie about it. Sir Mix-a-Lot was one of the best and most fun rappers going before that song about butts, but that monster hit will no doubt be on his tombstone. Catch him in the North Hills this summer.
Aug. 17, Iron Maiden, The Raven Age: PPG Paints Arena, Uptown
British heavy metal monsters like Iron Maiden don’t just crawl out of holes in the earth. They must be awaited, summoned, anticipated like an ill omen of great portent. Well, it worked. They’re coming. Even if you don’t go, expect a 100% increase in incidences of “The Trooper” blaring from local Camaros in late August.
Aug. 18, Beast Coast, Joey Bada$$, Flatbush Zombies, The Underachievers, Kirk Knight, Nyck Caution, Powers Pleasant, CJ Fly: Stage AE, North Side
New York’s biggest hip-hop supergroup export since the Wu-Tang Clan, the Beast Coast collective features members of Pro Era, Flatbush Zombies, and Underachievers. There’s a borderline-crazy amount of distinctive voices, flows and personalities sharing one stage, and “Snow In The Stadium” is a posse cut for the ages.
Aug. 22, Ted Leo and The Pharmacists: Spirit, Lawrenceville
One of indie rock’s most outspoken and impassioned voices, Ted Leo has made music as a source of resilience and strength in hard times. Well, times are hard and getting harder right now, so let’s hope he’s got something left to give.
Aug. 23, Gladys Knight: Heinz Hall, Downtown
Is there a first lady of soul left, now that Aretha is gone? If so, it may be Gladys Knight, with or without her various Pips. Come to hear the hits, starting in the Motown era, and continuing beyond the “That’s What Friends Are For” charity single for AIDS research in 1986.
Aug. 24, The Homeless Gospel Choir, Weird Paul Rock Band, Medium Ugly, Swither: Mr. Small’s Theatre, Millvale
Pittsburgh lo-fi legend Weird Paul: underground rocker, YouTube personality, “the original vlogger” (on videotape!), documentary subject, writer of a song about buying your love a human eye (“Human Eye”) that’s been stuck in my head for decades. Catch this great all-local showcase with The Homeless Gospel Choir co-headlining.
Aug. 25, Cheick Hamala Diabate, Grand Piano: Weather Permitting at Shadyside Nursery, Shadyside
Every Sunday evening at the Shadyside Nursery, there’s a Weather Permitting concert (depending, of course, on the weather), with great local bands, local beer and local food trucks — and kids are actually encouraged to attend, with squirt guns, a sandbox and hula hoops for short attention spans. All these concerts are great fun, and sprinkled amongst them are a few national and even international touring acts, like Grammy-nominated West African griot and n’goni (a lute that’s a little like a banjo) master Cheick Hamala Diabate on Aug. 25.
Aug. 28, Thumbscrew, City of Asylum/Alphabet City, North Side
Jazz still lives and breathes through the intervention of people like Mary Halvorson, a young guitarist whose inimitable style brushes past standards and the formal avant-garde with a singular focus. Thumbscrew is a leaderless collective featuring Halvorson with Tomas Fujiwara on drums and Michael Formanek on double bass. They’ll be working on a new album during a month-long residency hosted by City of Asylum.