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: