From dive bars to concert halls, practically every venue in town plays host to top-notch concerts in November. Looking for hip-hop? You got it. Singer-songwriters? But of course. Crazy Japanese punk? Funny you should ask. In addition, scroll to the bottom of the page, past the Deep Cuts, for some tantalizing shows by artists whose tours skip Pittsburgh. Who’s up for a road trip?

Mod Sun. Photo by Evan Dell.
Mod Sun. Photo by Evan Dell.

Mod Sun

Sunday, November 1. 6:30 p.m.

Altar Bar – 1620 Penn Ave.


The music of Mod Sun—an acronym for “movement on dreams, stand under none—is so relentlessly positive and full of good vibes that it’s been said he doesn’t just rap, he performs “hippie-hop.” Born in Bloomington, Minnesota as Derek Smith, Sun now calls LA home but is signed to Pittsburgh’s Rostrum Records, where Wiz and Mac Miller first got their start. Rostrum put out his first album in March of this year. Before that Sun released several EPs, a book of poetry and a self-help book entitled Did I ever wake up? A step by step guide on how to make life a dream.

Big Freedia. Photo courtesy the artist.
Big Freedia. Photo courtesy the artist.

Big Freedia

Tuesday, November 3. 9 p.m.

Spirit Lounge (upstairs) – 242 51st St.

$20 (21+)

While New Orleans’ Big Freedia didn’t start Bounce music, she certainly brought the genre into the mainstream—or at least as mainstream as a regional hip-hop/dance music subgenre can get. The Queen of Bounce had been performing for over a decade before releasing a collection of singles, Hitz Vol. 1, in 2010. That same year she was profiled in The New York Times and The Village Voice, and made her Pittsburgh debut at the VIA festival. Since then she’s been the subject of her own TV show on Fuse, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, and toured nationally with The Postal Service. The concert is co-presented by the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh.

Sufjan Stevens. Photo courtesy Asthmatic Kitty Records.
Sufjan Stevens. Photo courtesy Asthmatic Kitty Records.

Sufjan Stevens

Tuesday, November 3. 8 p.m.

Heinz Hall – 600 Penn Ave.


Sufjan Stevens’ website states quite matter-of-factly that Stevens “mixes autobiography, religious fantasy and regional history to create folk songs of grand proportions.” The Michigan-born singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist was widely acclaimed even before his brilliant 2005 release, Illinois. Stevens’ new album, Carrie & Lowell, abandons the electronic experimentation from his previous full-length, 2010’s The Age of Adz, in favor of an intimate and bittersweet tenor that mirrors that of his singing voice. Heinz Hall is the ideal venue for a performance like this.

Jonathan Richman

Wednesday, November 4. 8 p.m.

The Andy Warhol Museum – 117 Sandusky St.


Jonathan Richman’s distinctive, plainspoken singing style has polarized music fans for decades, but the former Modern Lovers’ frontman no doubt inspired the brash, impudent delivery of countless punk singers to come. Modern Lovers is viewed as a key influence on many early punk bands, with none other than the Sex Pistols regularly covering the band’s biggest hit, “Roadrunner.” Richman himself earned a new generation of fans after appearing as himself in the Farrelly Brothers’ comedy There’s Something About Mary, alongside drummer Tommy Larkins, with whom he will perform at The Warhol Museum as part of their Sound Series concert series.

Polyphonic Spree. Photo courtesy the band.
Polyphonic Spree. Photo courtesy the band.

Polyphonic Spree

Friday, November 6. 9 p.m.

Mr. Smalls – 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale


What do you get when you mix The Flaming Lips with Godspell and The Source Family?  Long before Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes popularized the whole musical hippie ensemble thing, Polyphonic Spree were touring with upwards of 25 members, sometimes more, dressed in matching white robes and harkening back to the psychedelic flower pop of the mid-60s. And although they never really hit it big, they did achieve a level of public recognition when their single “Light & Day / Reach for the Sun” was featured in a 2003 Volkswagon/Apple iPod commercial. The group, currently at 21 active members, are touring to mark the 15th anniversary of their debut album, The Beginning Stages of…, which the band will play in its entirety along with other “deep cuts and choice covers.” We hope that includes their surreal rendition of Nirvana’s “Lithium:

Dilly Dally

Wednesday, November 11. 9:30 p.m.

Brillobox – 4104 Penn Ave.

$8 (21+)

Dilly Dally should be the most popular band on the planet right now. OK, maybe I’m just super hyped, but the Toronto four-piece is one of those emerging bands that seem to arrive out of nowhere with a fully formed sound, a string of kick-ass singles and inexhaustible potential. Lead singer Katie Monks doesn’t so much sing as snarl, while the rest of the band explodes around her, sending jagged riffs and cymbals crashing down on the unsuspecting listener. If you caught Bully at Brillobox last month you have an idea of what to expect. If not, listen to “Desire,” off their debut LP, Sore, released just this month on Partisan Records to judge for yourself:

PiL. Photo by Paul Heartfield.
PiL. Photo by Paul Heartfield.

Public Image Ltd

Thursday, November 12. 9 p.m.

Altar Bar – 1620 Penn Ave.


John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, is coming back to Pittsburgh. Public Image Limited, Lydon’s post-punk, post-Pistols endeavor, is back on tour in support of their new album, What the World Needs Now… The band has been playing gigs in the UK and the reviews have been fairly positive. He chided the crowd in Glasgow for not getting into the music enough (the same thing he said to Pittsburgh crowds in 2010), but the same reviewer went on to say that Lydon’s voice is “as sharp and efficient as a can opener, still a spine-shivering delight to hear performing live.” Joining Lydon are guitarist Lu Edmonds and drummer Bruce Smith, who were both with PiL in the late ’80s, as well as new bassist Scott Firth.


Thursday, November 12. 9:30 p.m.

Brillobox – 4104 Penn Ave.

$10 (21+)

Punk rock meets the Power Rangers meets . . . you know what, I don’t even know. “Japanese Action Comic Punk Band” Peelander-Z has been around since 1998, with various members coming and going throughout the years, all from the Z area of Planet Peelander (obviously). The band is from New York but the members all grew up in Japan, so their songs are sung in both Japanese and English. There are a lot of songs about outer space, and another one called “Taco Taco Taco,” which I’m pretty sure is about tacos. Their live shows involve lots of audience participation, human bowling and maybe some giant guitar-squid character? Yeah, I’m thinking what you’re thinking: this is going to be AWESOME.

Neon Indian

Saturday, November 14.

Mr. Smalls – 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale


Neon Indian’s new album, Vega Intl. Night School, released just last week, is an instant contender for “Album of the Year” plaudits. Alan Palomo spent four years creating the album, which borrows from so many different genres that applying a single label would be pointless (although many commenters are calling it “future funk.”) What the album isn’t is chillwave, that ultra-specific, tenuous label that came to define many of Neon Indian’s early releases, as well as albums by Washed Out and Toro Y Moi. There’s disco in Night School for sure, plus 16-bit electronica, musique concrète, synth-pop . . . why not forget the labels and listen for yourself:


Flamin’ Groovies

Sunday, November 15.

Hard Rock Cafe – 230 W Station Square Dr.

$14 (21+)

The middle sixties San Francisco scene is synonymous with bands like Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and The Grateful Dead. But what about The Flamin’ Groovies? The band, native to San Fran, was there for it all, but they never adopted the psychedelic sound that marked the era, preferring to stick with a more straightforward garage rock sound. As a result, they never made it big at home. The band did find some success in Europe in the mid-70s, which is when they cut their most popular track to date “Shake Some Action.” (They are often cited as an influence on the nascent UK punk scene) Opening for the Groovies are Pittsburgh indie rockers Meeting of Important People and longtime local rock band The Wurms.

Deep Cuts

Casey Veggies. Photo courtesy the artist.
Casey Veggies. Photo courtesy the artist.
  • Just a few months out from playing Brillobox, The Screaming Females return to Pittsburgh November 2 for a date at The Smiling Moose, with support from local rockers The Lopez and Roulette Waves.
  • Whoop whoop! Insane Clown Posse is at Mr. Smalls November 2, with support from P.O.D.
  • David Rawlings, longtime music partner of Gillian Welch, visits the Byham November 4 in support of his new album, Nashville Obsolete.
  • Grammy-nominated bluegrass band The Infamous Stringdusters play the Rex Theater November 5.
  • Alt-country singer/songwriter Lydia Loveless visits Club Cafe November 6, with support from local indie rock band The Red Western.
  • On November 12, California Composer Ken Ueno will perform his concerto for throat-singing and orchestra, “On a Sufficient Condition for the Existence of Most Specific Hypothesis,” with Alia Musica Pittsburgh’s orchestra at the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, Shadyside.
  • Grateful Dead cover band par excellence Dark Star Orchestra visit Stage AE November 12.
  • Also at Stage AE, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic on November 14.
  • Steve Moore and A.E. Paterra, better known as Zombi, play a hometown show November 14 at Cattivo. Moore’s former band Microwaves opens, along with Pinkish Black.
  • The Lido Shuffler himself, Boz Scaggs, performs at the Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead November 15.
  • Social Distortion guitarist Jonny Two Bags visits Mr. Smalls November 15, with Scott H. Biram.
  • It’s P.A. all day November 15 when a pair of post-punk bands, The Gotobeds (Pittsburgh) and Dark Blue (Philly) play Brillobox.
  • On November 19, at CMU’s Miller Gallery, the University of Pittsburgh Orchestra and Roger Zahab will perform John Cage’s “Twenty Three,” a piece includes scores for 23 string players (13 violins, 5 violas and 5 cellos) and lasts 23 minutes.
  • Casey Veggies, a founding member of the Odd Future hip-hop collective, performs a late show at Altar Bar November 20.
  • Creed Bratton was a member of 60s pop band The Grass Roots but is famous today for playing a fictionalized version of himself in NBC’s The Office. See him at the Hard Rock November 24 for “an evening of music and comedy,” with support from piano-heavy local indie rock band Wreck Loose.
  • Punk rock veterans The Menzingers play Mr. Smalls November 24, with support from mewithoutYou.
  • Local scuzz-rockers William Forrest release their new EP November 27, with support from Pet Clinic and Sikes.

Road Trip!

  • Kendrick Lamar plays the Lincoln Theater in Washington, DC on November 1.
  • Deafheaven play New York, DC, and Philadelphia on November 5, 6, and 7, respectively.
  • Leon Russell visits Morgantown, WV on November 6 and Stage College on November 8.
  • Grimes hits the 9:30 Club in DC on November 13 and Union Transfer in Philadelphia on November 14.
  • Ty Segall’s Fuzz performs at the Black Cat in DC on November 13 and Underground Arts in Philadelphia November 14.
  • The Flaming Lips join Miley Cyrus on tour in Detroit on November 21 and in DC on November 27.
  • Eric Burdon & The Animals play the Kent Stage in Kent, Ohio on November 30.

For November happenings, check out our 11 Pittsburgh events not to miss in November.

Looking for family fun? Top Family Adventures this November in Pittsburgh.

Brian Conway is a writer and photographer whose articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune and local publications. In his free time, he operates Tripsburgh. Brian lives in the South Side.