Summer doldrums? Hardly. From Aussie punk to South African rap to “the Hendrix of the Sahara,” August has enough sonic diversity to please any musical palette. Read on for 10 of the best Pittsburgh concerts happening across the city this month:
Saturday, August 1. 8 p.m.
Rex Theater – 1602 East Carson Street
Omara Moctar was born in 1980, in a small Tuareg encampment in the north of the West African nation of Niger. The Tuareg are a culturally distinct, historically nomadic people, split mostly between Niger, Algeria and Mali. Moctar learned to play guitar in a refugee camp in Algeria, which is also where he acquired his nickname, Bombino. In 2007, international record label Sublime Frequencies released an album by Group Bombino as part of their Guitars from Agadez series. Bombino’s most recent release, Nomad, was produced in Nashville by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach:
Total Control, w/ The Gotobeds
Monday, August 3. 8 p.m.
The Shop – 4314 Main Street
Pittsburgh garage-punk kings, The Gotobeds, fresh off that Sub Pop biz, open for a truly one-of-a-kind Australian band. Total Control is situated somewhere between post-punk and new wave. The Melbourne outfit released their most recent single on Sub Pop (see the connection?), and have also released a split EP with Thee Oh Sees, with whom they have previously toured the States. Local hardcore act EEL open.
Friday, August 7. 7 p.m.
Frick Art & Historical Center – 7227 Reynolds Street
The last time Eleanor Friedberger was in town she played three songs at Exposed, a Warhol Museum production that paired king-sized indie rockers (Tom Verlaine! Dean & Britta!) with never-before-seen Warhol silent films. The event was curated by Dean Wareham, who hand-picked the former Fiery Furnace to participate. Her original composition “All Known Things,” performed in front of the enchanting Edie Sedgwick, stole the show. I caught Friedberger in LA back in March and a pair of songs from Exposed made it onto her setlist. No doubt you’ll hear those as well as some off of her most recent LP, Personal Record.
Saturday, August 8. 4 p.m.
Union Project – 801 N. Negley Ave.
Girls Rock! rocks. The 12-year-old program is, by its own definition, “an empowerment program for female youths of all definitions, abilities and backgrounds … that utilizes the process of making music to instill tools for amplifying self-confidence, creative expression, independent thinking, mutual respect and cooperation.” The students, age 8-18, cap off the four-day long camp with a public performance of original songs composed and recorded during their stay. You can hear last year’s songs on the Girls Rock! Bandcamp page.
Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill and Rae Sremmurd
Saturday, August 8. 7 p.m.
First Niagara Pavilion – Burgettstown
$25 and up
I hate driving out to First Niagara. Maybe living so close to so many venues on the South Side has me spoiled, but it had better be a great show if I’m going to sit in two hours worth of traffic. For fans of popular hip-hop, this lineup is definitely worth the commitment. Philly’s Meek Mill just went #1 on Billboard, and Rae Sremmurd was one of rap’s breakout stars of 2014, thanks to tracks like “No Flex Zone” and “Throw Sum Mo.” (Be on the lookout for a new Rae Sremmurd track featuring Wiz Khalifa in the coming weeks, entitled “Burn Slow.”) And as for Nicki? Well, Nicki is still the queen for a reason. Also performing is Tinashe, who was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2015 BET awards.
Wednesday, August 12. 7:30 p.m.
Stage AE (indoors) – 400 North Shore Drive
Tongue-in-cheek performance art? Counter-cultural movement? Die Antwoord is Ninja and Yolandi Vi$$er, a South African hip-hop duo who rap in Afrikaans, Xhosa and English. They are grounded in Zef, a sort of lower-middle class South African lifestyle that is equal parts swagger and style. The two caught the eye of director Neill Blomkamp, who featured the pair in a leading role in his recent film Chappie. And while Die Antwoord’s brash style of hip-hop has its critics, it’s obvious that the two performers are—to an extent—performing as characters, designed to shock and offend. This is Die Antwoord’s first performance in Pittsburgh.
Tuesday, August 18. 8 p.m.
Club Cafe – 56-58 South 12th Street
Psychedelic roots-rock band Morning Teleportation formed in Bowling Green, Kentucky in 2005. Their first album, Expanding Anyway, was produced by none other than Modest Mouse vocalist Isaac Brock and released in 2011. And they’ve been quiet ever since. The band’s Facebook page alludes to a new album in the near future, but nothing has been officially announced.
Saturday, August 22. 8 p.m.
Mr. Smalls – 400 Lincoln Avenue, Millvale
Am I alone in thinking this should be at Stage AE? Anticipation for the new Beach House album was sky-high even before they released new single “Sparks” in the beginning of July. Beach House’s albums have always been awash in gentle swells of sound, but this new track shows the dream pop duo swervedriving into shoegaze territory. The track is off of new album Depression Cherry, which will be released on August 28 on Sub Pop Records. No doubt this will sell out quickly.
Lake Street Dive, w/ Holy Ghost Tent Revival
Wednesday, August 26. 8 p.m.
Mr. Smalls – 400 Lincoln Avenue, Millvale
Lake Street Dive are quickly becoming Pittsburgh regulars. They sold out Mr. Smalls last March and visited again, at Hartwood Acres, just a few months later. Now they’re back after a year, still riding the surge of popularity achieved by their breakout performance at Showtime’s Inside Llewyn Davis concert and subsequent appearances on Colbert, Letterman and Ellen. Combining jazz, soul and folk, it’s easy to see why LSD are fan favorites on adult contemporary radio. Greensboro’s Holy Ghost Tent Revival open— think Lake Street Dive with more horns and a male vocalist.
Sunday, August 30. 8 p.m.
Altar Bar – 1602 Penn Avenue
Sacramento hip-hop duo Blackalicious released their first LP, Nia, on the highly influential Mo’ Wax label in 1999. While not necessarily an underground group, rapper Gift of God and DJ Chief Xcel differentiated themselves with stylistic experimentation, rapid-fire delivery and positive, uplifting lyrical content. The two released a pair of highly-acclaimed follow-up albums to Nia in the following years, featuring guest spots from the likes of Questlove and Gil Scott-Heron. Gift and Xcel have kept busy with solo projects, yet the pair hasn’t released a new album in over a decade. That should change soon with the recent announcement of Imani Vol. 1, which is tentatively scheduled to be released in September.
- Local garage rockers The Nox Boys present Teenage Takeover 3 at The Shop August 1, featuring Allentown’s The Yetis and local teenage rock band Chase the Monkey.
- Local bands The Red Western, Arlo Aldo, LoFi Delphi and more perform at Brookline Breezefest August 8.
- Humorcore metal band Psychostick visit Mr. Smalls August 11.
- Dave Grohl’s broken fibula won’t stop the Foo Fighters from performing at First Niagara August 25, w/ support from British drum and bass duo Royal Blood.
- Ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro visits the stately Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead August 28.
- The Apache Relay and Son Little perform a free show August 28 at Schenley Plaza as part of WYEP’s Final Fridays concert series.
- Blues legend Taj Mahal plays the Palace Theatre in Greensburg August 30, in support of John Hiatt.
Looking for more August fun? Consult our Top 10 Pittsburgh events not to miss in August.
In need of fun for the whole family? Check out the Top family adventures this August in Pittsburgh.