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.