Oct. 15, Black Midi. Spirit, Lawrenceville
Everybody loves a mystery band, and Black Midi has obliged, grabbing a lot of hype for a band with basically one recorded song for most of their existence during the 2010s. Avoiding social media and interviews wasn’t a bad idea as it turns out — letting the London band’s complex, intricately layered take on post-punk/prog/math-rock stand on its own. Every song is packed to bursting with ideas, and the vocals are off-kilter, unpredictable and surprisingly strong.
Oct. 15, Drive-by Truckers, Buffalo Nichols. Mr. Small’s Theatre, Millvale
“Southern Rock” seemed like a whiskey barrel full of cliches until the Drive-by Truckers got hold of it. Their music tastes like moonshine distilled from vintage Skynyrd and Neil Young and Crazy Horse — a blasphemous marriage of mortal enemies — with albums that are more like collections of literary short stories than long-winded jams (though there are a few of those, too).
Oct. 19, Brian Wilson. The Palace Theater, Greensburg
The word “legend” gets tossed around a bit haphazardly. But the troubled genius Brian Wilson is just that. His masterpiece “Pet Sounds” (1966) is considered by many to be the greatest album of the rock era, and a stunning reinvention of the Beach Boys’ dreamy vocal harmonies into something deeper, darker, more ambitious and psychedelic. Wilson was the first to treat the studio as an instrument, rather than a means to an end (a recording), understanding that it could create a nearly infinite array of sonic possibilities. He’s still got it musically and is in good hands here with longtime collaborators Blondie Chaplin and Al Jardine.
Oct. 19, Princess Nokia. Roxian Theatre, McKees Rocks
Princess Nokia isn’t quite a superstar (yet), but she’s passed well beyond the underground rapper who visited Pittsburgh as part of the brilliant, much-missed VIA Festival in 2015. Now, Vogue covers her outfit changes on Instagram, so that’s a pretty good sign her career is headed in the right direction. She’s released a double album “Everything’s Beautiful/Everything Sucks” which both courts the mainstream and revels in the self-destructive weirdness of her many conflicting musical personalities.
Oct. 23, En Vogue. Meadows Casino, Washington
No, you’re “Never Gonna Get It.” But you can at least try, once again, at the highly unusual locale of the Meadows Casino in Washington. Before Destiny’s Child sort of stole their thunder, En Vogue was the biggest R&B vocal group in the world for more than a hot minute, selling more than 20 million physical albums. They had hit after hit, dominated MTV, could dance, and could light up a music video like few others. The ‘90s live on!
Oct. 19, “Devils Night” with The Gotobeds, Century III, Silver Car Crash. Spirit, Lawrenceville
You don’t need an encyclopedic knowledge of the past four decades of underground rock to appreciate Pittsburgh band the Gotobeds (but it doesn’t hurt). Their breakneck pacing, deadpan wit and bottomless vat of bad vibes really need no translation. The Gotobeds plays a kind of tense-but-melodic, tightly structured, yet constantly surprising punk rock pioneered by the likes of Wire and The Fall and carried forth by Total Control and Protomartyr, with a Rust Belt-toughened, seen-it-all sarcasm that sounds quite familiar. They’re on giant indie label Sub Pop, so you can find their records all over the world. Century III (best band name!) is opening.
Oct. 29, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Amy Helm, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, Gaby Moreno, Thao Nguyen. Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall
I don’t want to be one of those bores who drones on about “real country music” — but if there ever was such a thing, it’s Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle. Earle comes by his rough, ragged vocals the hard way, from a life that has included time in jail and the heartbreak of five (!) marriages. Harris sings like an angel, and her main vice seems to be following baseball too closely. The only thing they have in common is a penchant for activism and humane politics. That’s the case here — this is called “The Lantern Tour: Concerts for Migrant and Refugee Families,” and includes a package of performers including Thao Nguyen of the brilliant experimental indie rock band Thao & The Get Down Stay Down.