This month finally feels like live music has arrived in full in post-pandemic Pittsburgh. There’s so much good music that I just had to stop at some point. It’s an embarrassment of riches.
As always, please note that some venues require proof of vaccination, negative Covid tests and/or masks, so check with each club. (But really, do that stuff anyway). There are also still likely to be a few additional Covid-related cancellations, so double-check before you go.
Here are our picks for the best upcoming shows in April:
April 1: Wolf Alice, Charlie Hickey: Stage AE, North Shore
Well-versed in both alternative rock and the kinds of pop music rock fans will tolerate, London’s Wolf Alice is a beacon in the dude-dominated wilderness of contemporary radio rock. The band is big enough for stadiums, but Ellie Rowsell sings with an intimate familiarity of a friend at the end of the bar at your favorite pub.
April 1: Pup, Pinkshift, Cloud Nothings: Roxian Theatre, McKees Rocks
Punk rock comes in lots of shapes and colors, but these Toronto dudes have kept it simple and straightforward, eschewing sonic experimentation in favor of pushing complex, multilayered songwriting. They’ve even written a song called “Yukon” about gold prospectors dying in the uncharted wilderness … which is more Canadian than getting punched by Gordie Howe at a Leafs game. They’re at the Roxian with Cleveland’s outstanding Cloud Nothings, who sort of do the same thing.
April 2: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Concert for Peace: Heinz Hall, Downtown
Well, we’re well past the point of peace right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hope for its swift return. Manfred Honeck will lead the world-famous PSO through the music of Arvo Part, Dmitri Shostakovich and Valentin Silvestrov’s “Prayer for Ukraine.” It will be livestreamed on WQED 89.3FM and via the PSO’s digital platform Front Row. Sponsored by UPMC Health Plan, the show is free, but donations for humanitarian relief for Ukraine are requested.
April 3: Resistance Revival Chorus: PNC Theatre (Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse), Downtown
The Resistance Revival Chorus is a collective of more than 60 women and non-binary singers who join together to breathe joy and song into the resistance and to uplift and center women’s voices. There will also be a conversation with singers and members of the local Pittsburgh Labor Choir about the intersection of art and activism.
April 5, Bright Eyes: Stage AE, North Shore
The Midwestern master of wordy, heart-on-your-sleeve indie rock, Conor Oberst has been busy, and not always with his signature project Bright Eyes. He shares stages sometimes with the brilliant Phoebe Bridgers in Better Oblivion Community Center, plays full-band punk in Desaparecidos, releases albums under his own name — and even had one of his songs unexpectedly covered by the late Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller. But Bright Eyes is what started it all, and is what he’s bringing to Stage AE.
April 6: Dummy, The Gotobeds, Gaadge, Century III: Thunderbird Music Hall, Lawrenceville
Pittsburgh record label Crafted Sounds is bringing together a fascinating bill of very different bands. Headliners are Los Angeles psyche-drone band Dummy, who create meticulously detailed songs out of electronic and organic instruments, clearly inspired by the likes of Stereolab and Silver Apples but still utterly their own. They’ll be joined by Pittsburgh post-punk giants The Gotobeds, and the local band with my favorite name, Century III.
April 6: Gwen Laster New Muse 4tet: Alphabet City, North Side
Violinist/composer Gwen Laster helms an improvisational string quartet specializing in new music. Their own “Black Lives Matter Suite” is the perfect example of their skill set, combining neoclassical new music with social activism. This concert will celebrate the release of their record, “Blue Lotus.”
April 8: Sierra Ferrell: Mr. Small’s Theatre, Millvale
The West Virginia-born Sierra Farrell is a country music anomaly of the best kind. She arrived at her state’s signature sound from an extremely circuitous route — nomadically traveling between New Orleans and Seattle, absorbing everything from Nirvana to gypsy jazz, tango and calypso, before discovering bluegrass. She also built a following by uploading music to YouTube. But she’s also got that kind of pure tone and unteachable twang in her voice that made the likes of Kitty Wells and Loretta Lynn into legends.
April 8: Dragonforce, Battle Beast, Seven Spires: Roxian Theatre, McKees Rocks
Though this month is packed with metal bands that are part parody and part homage (The Darkness on April 16; Steel Panther on April 28), Dragonforce always seemed to err on the the side of the latter. The London band is usually dubbed “power metal,” featuring a speedy collision of ’80s glam-metal, video game music, a hefty dollop of wizards and demons, shrieking technical-ecstasy guitar solos and bombastic vocals.
April 9: Spirit Turns 7 with Of Montreal: Spirit, Lawrenceville
Indie pop stalwarts Of Montreal have nothing to do with Montreal. They do, however, have a musical imagination that has ventured far beyond the 1960s psychedelia that inspired them, taking them to strange, unexpected places, like the blissed-out synthesizer roller skating jams on their 2020 album “UR FUN.” You’ve also probably heard them, whether you know it or not — their music has been in so many movies, TV shows and commercials that it’s hard to miss. Their most recent record has the best name of 2021: “I Feel Safe With You, Trash.” Plus, this is Spirit’s seventh birthday, so expect it to be a blast.
April 12: Zakir Hussain in Triveni: Byham Theater, Downtown
A rare performance of Indian classical music by tabla master Zakir Hussain, alongside virtuosos of the violin and the veena, a lute or zither-like instrument with a distinctively ethereal sound.
April 14: Adult. Kontravoid, Spike Hellis: Spirit, Lawrenceville
You know how some music is just feel-good music that puts you in a great mood. Yeah, well, the married Detroit duo Adult. is the opposite of that. They push their collection of drum machines and analog synthesizers to the breaking point, blasting out anxiety-laden electro-blasts like “I Feel Worse When I’m With You” — and, somehow, it feels great to get it all out.
April 14: Front 242: Mr. Small’s Theatre, Millvale
The Belgian industrial band Front 242 was formed in 1981, an eternity in the small universe of electronics-first music — the logical conclusion of a collision between punk rock aggression, disco rhythms and postindustrial grimness of Europe in the ’80s. They called it “electronic body music,” or EBM, which is way different than the now-dominant electronic gene of EDM.
April 14: Jack White: Petersen Events Center, Oakland
Jack White is one of the few remaining celebrities working in the rock idiom (what they used to call a “rock star”), and this time he’s coming without his bands The White Stripes, The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs. He’s now a musical empire, making music, running a successful label (Third Man), even doing the oft-neglected physical labor of building a much-needed record pressing plant in his hometown of Detroit. He’s also a cultivator of eccentricity — he’s an enthusiast of upholstery and taxidermy — some of which is even real, and some purposeful misdirection.
April 14: The Temptations, The Four Tops: Heinz Hall, Downtown
There was a time when these guys and their Motown compatriots dominated the pop charts: “The Sound of Young America” they called it. Was that the high watermark of American culture? Was it all downhill from there? Maybe. Anyway, the Temps and Tops are here, featuring some original members.
April 15: Limousine Beach, Tiny Wars, Rated Eye: Brillobox, Bloomfield
Brillobox is back! Pittsburgh’s coolest tiny venue/bar combo, Brillobox, was a casualty of the pandemic, but has made a welcome comeback. Limousine Beach is hosting a release party at Brillo for its new self-titled album; expect lots of gigantic, hairy wildman Capital-R-Rock in the style of Thin Lizzy and Kiss, with axes swung by Dave Wheeler (Carousel), Evan Mitchell (Cruces) and Jason Sichi (Fist Fight in the Parking Lot.)