Sound Picks: 10 can’t-miss Pittsburgh concerts in August

Bombino. Photo Credit -- Steve Roby

Bombino. Photo by Steve Roby.

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

$25/$22 adv.

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. Photo courtesy the band.

Total Control. Photo courtesy the band.

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.

Eleanor Friedberger performs at  Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films. Photo Credit Brian Conway.

Eleanor Friedberger performs at Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films. Photo by Brian Conway.

Eleanor Friedberger

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.

tape-headerGirls Rock! Showcase

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.

Meek Mill. Photo by James Dimmock.

Meek Mill. Photo by James Dimmock.

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.


Die Antwoord. Photo courtesy the band.

Die Antwoord. Photo courtesy the band.

Die Antwoord

Wednesday, August 12. 7:30 p.m.

Stage AE (indoors) – 400 North Shore Drive

$30/$27.50 adv

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.