Much as the first robin is a harbinger of springtime, a sold-out Sleater-Kinney show symbolizes the end of what’s been a barren winter concert season here in Pittsburgh.  Read on for seven Sound Picks for March, and don’t miss our Deep Cuts at the end of the article for even more shows worthy of your consideration.

Will Butler. Photo courtesy of the Billions Corporation.

Will Butler, w/ Teen

Thursday, March 12. 9:30 PM

Brillobox – 4104 Penn Ave.

$11 (21+)

After a decade playing synthesizers in Arcade Fire, Will Butler is releasing his debut solo album, Policy, on March 10. Will (not to be confused with his older brother, frontman Win) recorded the album in Jimi Hendrix’s old living room above Electric Ladyland Studios. Its debut single “Take My Side,” is a jaunty, guitar-driven tune that possesses that signature Arcade Fire joie de vivre, minus the extravagance.

Northern Faces, w/ Vinyl Thief, Idlehands

Friday, March 13. 6:00 PM

The Smiling Moose – 1306 E. Carson St.


This triple-bill is literally one night only. Albany, New York’s Northern Faces and Nashville’s Vinyl Thief have joined together on a co-headlining tour of the East Coast. Both are up-and-coming indie bands that tend more toward the “pop” side of the pop-rock divide, best evidenced by Northern Faces’ handclap-heavy new single, “Wait Wait Wait.” Joining them for just for one evening is San Diego alternative rock band Idlehands, who will have just wrapped up a co-headlining East Coast swing of their own.

Bastard Bearded Irishmen’s St. Patrick’s Parade Day Party, w/ The Commonheart, Black Masala

Saturday, March 14. 7:30 PM

The Rex Theater – 1602 E. Carson St.


Pittsburgh’s answer to Flogging Molly, the Bastard Bearded Irishmen had this one circled on their calendar since, well, last St. Patrick’s Day. More than just boisterous, knockabout drinkin’ tunes, the Irishmen’s new album, Rise of the Bastard, reveals a depth befitting the band’s classically trained musicians. There’s fiddle and mandolin like you’d expect from a Celtic punk band, as well as driving electric guitar. Throw in appearances by D.C. Balkan brass band Black Masala, and Clinton Clegg’s new band The Commonheart—Clegg has one of the best voices in the entire Pittsburgh scene—and you’re in for an evening that’s guaranteed to be great craic.


Wednesday, March 25. 7:00 PM

CMU – The Underground – 1060 Morewood Avenue


Sun-soaked surf jams are supposed to come from LA, not Brooklyn. Comprised of two gals on guitar (Glenn and Saara) and a guy (Matt) on drums, BOYTOY combine syrupy-sweet vocals with crunchy guitar licks straight out of Iggy Pop’s garage. They’ve only a self-titled EP to their name, but they already opened once for Ty Segall, the reigning king of garage-rock revivalism. The show is free and open to the public despite its location on Carnegie Mellon’s campus.

kool keith

Kool Keith

Thursday, March 26. 9:00 PM

The Rex Theater – 1602 E. Carson St.

$20 (21+)

“There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.” So said musician/actor (and Pittsburgh native) Oscar Levant. The same could be said for Kool Keith. A former patient at Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, the Bronx native founded the hip-hop group Ultramagnetic MCs in 1984. He moved out West in the mid-90s and began a solo career as Dr. Octagon, a time-traveling surgeon from Jupiter. His lyrics have even inspired a “who said it?” online quiz where you have to choose between Keith and James Joyce. Openers include local hip-hop group Bilderburgh, and Billy Pilgrim, of Mega-Def and Killer of Sheep.

Perfume Genius, w/ Jenny Hval

Friday, March 27. 8:00 PM

The Andy Warhol Museum – 117 Sandusky Street


“No family is safe when I sashay,” sings Mike “Perfume Genius” Hadreas on “Queen,” the song Slate called “the gay anthem of the year.” In 2008, Hadreas began releasing songs under the Perfume Genius name on his MySpace page, and just two years later he released his debut album, Learning, on Matador Records. Hadreas says that “Queen,” off of his critically-acclaimed 2014 album, Too Bright, is a response to society’s “gay panic.” Opening is the wildly talented Norwegian singer-songwriter Jenny Hval. It is no surprise that this show, in The Warhol’s intimate theater, is already sold out. And unlike Sleater-Kinney, all the posts on Craigslist are for people looking to buy tickets, not sell them.

The Decemberists, w/ Alvvays

Tuesday, March 31. 8:00 PM

Benedum Center – 237 7th St.

$38.75 – $46.75

Sometimes it’s a solid opening act that tips the scale as to whether or not a concert is worth attending. Not that The Decemberists aren’t worth the price of admission on their own, but jangly indie-pop buzz band Alvvays makes this a complete bill worth showing up for on time. The Toronto outfit released their first, self-titled album in July of 2014, and by August it reached #1 on the college charts. Usually, a band at this point in their career will make their first Pittsburgh appearance somewhere like Club Cafe or the Smiling Moose, not the opulent Benedum Center, which is more suited to bands like, well, The Decemberists! The Portland indie folk ensemble played the Benedum on their last trip through town, in 2011, and are back in support of their new album, the well regarded What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.

Alvvays, photo by Norman Wong.
Alvvays, photo by Norman Wong.

Deep Cuts:

• Couldn’t find a ticket to Sleater-Kinney? New Jersey Riot Grrrl trio Screaming Females visit

Brillobox March 29, w/ Shellshag and local noise-rock duo The Lopez.

Majeure (aka A.E. Paterra, drummer for local space-rock duo Zombi) performs at SPACE

March 27 along with local electronic duo RIVKA, as part of SPACE’s monthly local music

series, Music SPACE.

• Funky New Orleans jazz ensemble Galactic perform at Mr. Smalls March 25.

Looking for more Pittsburgh happenings? Check out our Top 8 Pittsburgh events not to miss in March.

Looking for family activities? Check out our Top 10 family adventures this March 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.