For music fans, there are few worse feelings than buying tickets to a show and then learning that another, better show takes place the same night. Even if you haven’t purchased tickets yet, making the choice between a pair of same-day concerts can be agonizing. What if I choose the wrong one? Do I go with the up-and-coming band or the sure thing? What if my friends and I can’t agree on which show to attend?
This dilemma presents itself several times in April, but hip-hop fans have it worst. Two top-flight rappers, Curren$y and Early Sweatshirt, perform the same night. This just a week after Cool Keith and Rakim threw separate concerts on the same night. Hopefully, future shows will be spread out a bit!
Thursday, April 2. 8 p.m.
Benedum Center – 237 7th Street
$38.25 – $52.75
Well, that didn’t take long. In 2012, alt-J’s debut album, An Awesome Wave, won the annual Mercury Prize for best British (or Irish) album of the year. Their next album hit #1 in the UK and #1 on the US rock and alternative charts. That same winter alt-J sold out shows across the States. We get them on leg two of their new album tour, but they did just visit Pittsburgh less than two years ago. And while it has been months since The Cultural Trust had any seats available to purchase for this event, it still doesn’t say “sold-out” on the show’s ticketing page. It might be worth checking back every once in a while in case any seats are released at the last minute. Otherwise, resale tickets start at around $100 online.
Thursday, April 2. 9 p.m.
Thunderbird Cafe – 4023 Butler Street
Delicate Steve is both the stage name of multi-instrumentalist Steve Marion and the name of his band. Steve (and the band) combine all different styles of guitar playing into a far-out instrumental melange that defies easy categorization. Two hints about their sound: the band is signed to David Byrne’s Luaka Bop world music label, and Steve (the musician) was recently in the studio with Paul “Graceland” Simon. Pittsburgh’s own long-haired string picker Andre Costello opens. Unlike Steve, Andre sings on all his tracks, and we are better off for it. He and the Cool Minors are just a few months removed from the release of The Rattling Arcade, their first full-length album on local label Wild Kindness Records.
Saturday, April 4. 8 p.m.
Mr. Smalls – 400 Lincoln Avenue, Millvale.
Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt returns to Mr. Smalls, the same venue he sold out in late 2013. That was in support of his acclaimed rookie album, Doris, which The Guardian called as “a psychedelic vision quest to the taqueria on a skateboard.” Just this month Earl planned to drop his new album unexpectedly — like Drake did for his new album — but then it showed up for pre-sale on iTunes. Earl was livid. Who knows, maybe he’ll surprise everyone at the show with a guest appearance from Mac Miller, who appeared on the Doris album and then returned the favor to Earl by offering him a spot on Watching Movies with the Sound Off. Opening is Vince Staples, who himself released a mixtape with Mac in 2013.
Saturday, April 4. 8 p.m.
Altar Bar – 1620 Penn Ave.
TGOD x JETS: Not many people in Pittsburgh really knew about Curren$y until summer 2009, when he and Wiz Khalifa released their collaborative mixtape, How Fly. Or if they did it may have been because the N’awlins MC (and former Cash Money signee) had just months earlier released his celebrated debut album, This Ain’t No Mixtape. Today, Wiz is pretty much a household name, while Curren$y is still releasing records while managing his Jet Life imprint, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers. The two still collaborate regularly and in 2013 they released a live EP. One difference between this and the Earl Sweatshirt show is that Curren$y has local MCs opening for him: Norman Dean, and Mac Miller’s former hype man Palermo Stone, whose The 2nd Coming album was one of the best hip-hop releases in the city last year. And there’s always that small chance Wiz shows up…