Chalk it up to global warming: the summer concert season came to Pittsburgh a month early this year. Big name performances from Mastodon, Interpol and the Replacements set the bar high for June. Top it off with a homecoming from William Fitzsimmons and Primal Scream’s first Pittsburgh show in 20+ years, and you’ve got the start of a long, beautiful summer.

Steve Gunn. Photo Credit: Constance Mensh

Steve Gunn. Photo Credit: Constance Mensh

Steve Gunn, w/ Sagas

Saturday, May 2. 8 p.m.

Spirit – 120 51st Street

$10 (21+)

I’m a big fan of sitar in rock music, but for as many times as I’ve mellowed out to “Norwegian Wood,” I have never actually seen a sitar played live. I thought that might change when Steve Gunn comes to town, but it turns out he only tunes his guitar to sound that way. Gunn is a chameleon on the guitar. One moment he sounds like Ravi Shankar, the next, Blind Lemon Jefferson. Each of Gunn’s compositions are steeped in this collection of far-reaching influences, and the product is something truly original. Gunn was in town last October for VIA. Oh, and he can sing, too. Opening is Sagas, AKA Pittsburgh-based musician Matt McDowell.

The Replacements

Tuesday, May 5. 8 p.m.

Stage AE (indoors) – 400 North Shore Drive


I don’t know why I keep including these sold-out shows. Part of me thinks, hey, this is still a significant show—I have to include it. And then I think, no, this will probably just make people angry. “Hey, remember that great show you couldn’t get tickets to? Well, it’s right around the corner! Can you imagine how much fun you’re missing out on?”

If you really want to go, there’s always the resale market. At last check there were over 20 tickets available for just $10 more than face value, at $65. That’s what you’d pay to see the Steve Miller Band at Highmark Stadium this summer. Hey, it’s all about perspective.

FIDLAR. Photo Credit: BB Gun Press.

FIDLAR. Photo Credit: BB Gun Press.

FIDLAR, w/ Nox Boys and Umbrella Corporation

Thursday, May 7. 7:30 p.m.

Altar Bar – 1620 Penn Ave.


FIDLAR stands for “F*** it dawg, life’s a risk.” Now that that’s out of the way, FIDLAR’s first, self-titled album took its cues from fellow Los Angelenos the Descendents, circa Milo Goes to College. Said Pitchfork: “the quartet’s self-titled debut is about today—being young, broke, drunk, ecstatic and not worrying too much about what happens next.” It’s loud, vulgar and brash, but with tongue planted slightly in cheek. Who can find fault in a line like, “Stop wearing tight jeans/And put on some board shorts.”

Primal Scream

Thursday, May 14. 8 p.m.

Mr. Smalls – 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale


This is the first time Primal Scream have played Pittsburgh since 1994, when they opened for Depeche Mode at Star Lake. These Scots hardly ever tour North America, so it’s nothing short of incredible that Pittsburgh made it on this ever-so-brief nine-date swing of theirs. Over their 20-plus-year career Primal Scream have been constant innovators—from the acid-house dance pop sensation Screamadelica (a huge influence on Daft Punk), to the trippy, industrial electronica of Vanishing Point and XTRMNTR. Even their new stuff is good:

The Baseball Project

Thursday, May 14. 8 p.m.

Club Cafe – 56-58 South 12th Street

$16 (21+)

This is one of those themed bands that you swear can’t be true the first time you hear about it. You’re telling me that Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn and Scott McCaughey of The Young Fresh Fellows got together with two of the guys from R.E.M. to make an album made up entirely of baseball songs? Sure, buddy. Next you’ll try to tell me that Macaulay Culkin is in some strange, pizza-themed Velvet Underground parody. The Baseball Project, which includes Peter Buck and Mike Mills, is touring in support of their third album, 3rd, which includes a track about the time Dock Ellis tried to bean the first five Cincinnati Reds’ batters he faced.  (He hit three of them.)


Freedom From Fracking

Freedom From Fracking: A Benefit for The Friends of The Harmed w/ Rusted Root & More

Saturday, May 16. 5:30 p.m.

Mr. Smalls – 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale

$30 (21+)

When Joan Jett was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this past Saturday, she had this to say: “I come from a place where rock and roll means something. It’s more than music, more than fashion, more than a pose. It’s a subculture of rebellion, frustration, alienation and the groove.”