October and November are packed with great live music. October, in particular, has something worth checking out almost every night. Here are our picks for the best of the best:
Oct. 1, Bitchin Bajas, Centipede E’est, Alvin Row, DJ Mary Mack: Brillobox, Bloomfield
There’s a vast, almost comical disconnect between this band’s name and their sound. You’d expect, what, surf rock? Camaro-ready stoner metal? Instead, Bitchin Bajas make towering, shimmering, hypnotic soundscapes, built from synths, loops and guitar drones. This show also features the return of beloved Pittsburgh band Centipede E’est.
Oct. 2, Chariot Fade, Yip Deceiver, Ky Voss: Spirit, Lawrenceville
The debut show from Chariot Fade, featuring three members of Pittsburgh band Delicious Pastries. Plus, one-man synthesizer jam Yip Deceiver from Montreal and Pittsburgh’s Ky Voss and DJ Paula Lockwood.
Oct. 3, The Fleshtones, Sinister Six, DJ Flipside Scotty, DJ Bad Seed: Get Hip Recordings, North Side
Great garage rock showcase from giants of the genre The Fleshtones — who go back four decades to the early days at legendary rock club CBGB — plus Sinister Six, with DJs Flipside Scotty and Bad Seed spinning complementary selections from their stellar vinyl collections.
Oct. 5, 6th “All Scene” Entertainment Festival: Mr. Small’s, Millvale
This show is a bit of everything at once: bands, stand-up comedy, dance, visual art, even yoga and an open mic for the public. Local bands performing include Different Places in Space, Jenny and the Jags, Sikes and the New Violence, Rose Winston, Six Demon Bag and more.
Oct. 5, Ravi Coltrane Quartet: New Hazlett Theater, North Side
As the son of John and Alice Coltrane, Ravi has always had a lot to live up to. Somehow, the saxophonist managed to thrive inside that vast shadow, making forward-looking jazz in tune with his parents’ transcendently spiritual searching, while remaining defiantly its own thing.
Oct. 5, The Melvins, Redd Kross, Toshi Kasai: The Rex Theater, South Side
The Melvins have been around awhile — singer/guitarist Buzz “King Buzzo” Osborne literally introduced Dave Grohl to Kurt Cobain. The Melvins have endured as one of the most consistently great pillars of heavy rock in existence for decades, and they’ve done it by pretty much sticking to the same formula — spiky, aggressive post-punk and heavy, doom-laden Black Sabbath-style metal — influencing thousands of bands that have appeared in their wake.
Oct. 7, Mike Watt + The Missingmen: Spirit, Lawrenceville
Mike Watt has long lent his frenetic basslines and raspy growl to legendary bands like the Minutemen and Firehose. Now, he’s got his own band, The Missingmen, who make loosely defined “punk operas.” Watt’s most recent album, “Hyphenated-Man,” features songs based on creatures from the phantasmagorical paintings of Hieronymus Bosch.
Oct. 7, The Black Keys, Modest Mouse: PPG Paints Arena, Uptown
The Black Keys have always rocked, playing a potent but old-school style of stripped-down, heavy, blues-inflected garage rock. But it was hard to see the two goofy looking guys from Akron as “rock stars.” Yet, here they are, headlining the biggest room in town. Modest Mouse, normally a headliner, is opening.
Oct. 10, Huun Huur Tu: First Unitarian Church, Shadyside
There aren’t a lot of places on Earth farther from Pittsburgh than the remote Asian land of Tuva. Isolation has allowed this indigenous nomadic herding culture to endure well into modernity, and with it, a remarkable kind of music called Tuvan throat singing. It’s an ancient vocal tradition in which singers produce two or more notes at the same time, with melody laid over a droning harmony. The effect is quite hypnotic, similar to the trance-like cadences of Scottish bagpipes or Mississippi hill country blues. And the foremost ambassadors of this remarkable music are Huun Huur Tu.
Oct. 11, Meeting of Important People, Jenn Wertz Band, Nik Westman: Thunderbird Cafe, Lawrenceville
Pittsburgh’s Meeting of Important People make bright, sugar rush power pop, crammed with buzzy garage rock guitars, irresistible hooks, and sneakily smart lyrics. Imagine if The Shins were less melancholy, or the Kinks grew up in suburban Pittsburgh, and you’re in the ballpark.
Oct. 12, Helado Negro, Zenizen: The Andy Warhol Museum, North Side
Brooklyn-based, electronic avant-pop artist Helado Negro (Roberto Carlos Lange) was born to Ecuadorian parents, and makes music in both his native tongues. He’ll be at The Warhol performing music from his latest album, “This Is How You Smile.”
Oct. 12, Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carnegie Lecture Hall, Oakland
One of the great songwriters of any generation, Buffy Sainte-Marie started in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960s with fellow Canadians Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, exploring themes of protest, activism and her Native American heritage. She has made folk, country and rock albums, and was a long-standing guest on “Sesame Street.” She has also co-written pop hits, including “Up Where We Belong,” which won an Academy Award (for its inclusion in the 1982 film, “An Officer and a Gentleman.”)
Oct. 12, Boy Harsher, Spelling, W00dy: 3577 Studios, Polish Hill
Eerie, ethereal, pitch black synth-pop, heavier on the synth than the pop. This Massachusetts duo makes darkness danceable, mining their own fraught relationship for musical inspiration.
Oct. 13, Les Filles de Illighadad: 25 Carrick Ave., Carrick
Rock and roll has an amazing capacity for regeneration, despite all the abuse it has suffered over the years. Deep in the remote, war-torn deserts of the African Sahel, rock music is being reborn, via a new generation of nomadic Tuareg guitarists like Les Filles de Illighadad, which includes one of the few women playing this music on the guitar.
Oct. 15, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin performing the score to Dario Argento’s film “Deep Red”: Mr. Small’s Theatre, Millvale
There was a time when the complex synthesizers and progressive rock ambitions of Goblin sounded dated, symbolic of an era of sonic excess. Now, they’re hailed as legends, and copied by hundreds of electronic musicians, trying to find the secret to their sinister cinematic soundscapes. It helps, of course, that the Italian band composed and performed music for some of the greatest horror films ever made: from Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” (1977) to George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” (1978). Now, they’re playing the entire score for Argento’s “Profondo Rosso” (“Deep Red”) live at Mr. Small’s.
Oct. 17, Mudhoney, Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds, The Gotobeds: Mr. Small’s Theatre, Millvale
Along with the Melvins, the other towering pillar of contemporary heavy rock is Mudhoney. Since 1988, the Seattle band has pushed a dirty, distorted distillation of heavy garage blues and punk rock, inspiring uncounted thousands of bands (including several household names). See, we made it this far without mentioning the G-word (“grunge”).
Oct. 17, Pharmakon, Night Vapor, casual male: Gooski’s, Polish Hill
The reigning queen of noise, Pharmakon, has been a force in the underground experimental music scene since age 17. Her harrowing, intense music has an almost tactile quality to it, as she seeks to erase the borders between performer and audience.
Oct. 18, Stiff Little Fingers, The Avengers: Jergel’s Rhythm Grille, North Hills
There are plenty of punk rockers who are play-acting at rebellion. Stiff Little Fingers are an exception — they roared out of a literal war zone in Belfast at the height of the Troubles in the late 1970s, with a penchant for politically risky commentary and surprisingly poppy hooks. Now, they’re playing at Jergel’s in the North Hills (!) with fellow first wave punks The Avengers (not the superheroes).
Oct. 19, Billy Ocean: The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, Washington
Boat shoes? Check. Drinks with little umbrellas? Check. Yacht? (Working on it.). Get ready for a cruise on the Billy Ocean at the Meadows Casino.
Oct. 20, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Ben Opie/Josh Wulff: First Unitarian Church, Shadyside
Since 1977, this saxophone quartet has been expanding the sonic possibilities of multiple saxophones — drawing on everything from free jazz to the pop music of Asia and Africa, to the blues — pushing ever outward on the boundaries of jazz.
Oct. 20, Swervedriver: The Rex Theater, South Side
Swervedriver specializes in innards-rattling guitar grooves, skirting the edges of shoegaze and psychedelia. They put a new album out in 2015 — their first in 17 years — and more or less returned to life as an active unit. In 2019, they released their sixth album, “Future Ruins,” via Dangerbird Records.
Oct. 24, Afro Yaqui Music Collective: Alphabet City, North Side
Perhaps Pittsburgh’s most indefinable band, Afro Yaqui Music Collective brings together members born in Cuba, Ghana, Kazakhstan and Mexico, making music inspired by improvisational jazz, indigenous resistance and freedom fighters worldwide.
Oct. 26, Sleater-Kinney: Stage AE, North Side
The best rock band of the past 20 years? Maybe! These women simply make rock and roll relevant again — fearlessly, furiously punching out politically potent punk rock like all the other (dude-driven) bands in the world have let them down.