Pittsburgh boasts impressive spring concerts
As the sun begins to remind us of its greatness and the number of weeks left of classes can be counted on a single hand, many things are happening in Pittsburgh to welcome spring. As we break out the flip-flops and ditch the hot chocolate, music venues both small and large are welcoming a range of musical talent in the coming months. Musicians from across the country will be coming to the ’Burgh, occupying venues to satisfy the tastes of those hungry to hear some good tunes.
The Five Percent, Caleb Lovely
Saturday, April 10 at 10:30 p.m.
Coming from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area in northeastern Pennsylvania, The Five Percent has grown to national fame. Their most recent release was their June 2009 album A Summer Sunday Morning at Dawn.
Caleb Lovely is a Pittsburgh native and already a triple threat at just 21. He writes, sings, and plays all the instruments in his songs. His honest lyrics and folksy riffs serve for great easy-listening tunes, which are featured on his self-titled LP released in May 2009.
Sunday, April 11 at 8 p.m.
Carnegie Music Hall
Their most recent release came in June 2009, titled Wilco. Members of the band are Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Glenn Kotche, Nels Cline, Pat Sansone, and Mikael Jorgensen. One critic gave an incredibly colorful description, calling them “alt-country, Americana, neo-folk, quasi-experimental, and, if you insist, dad rock.” Sometimes they sound like Spoon, sometimes like Bright Eyes, but mostly they’ve captured a unique sound that’s bound to give your ears a good feeling.
Sunday, April 18 at 7 p.m.
Lead singer Burt McCracken’s voice is pretty identifiable, and he joins up with bandmates Quinn Allman, Jeph Howard, and Dan Whitesides as they come to Pittsburgh in mid-April. Their latest release, Artwork, came out in late August 2009. Though they’re most appropriately labeled as punk rock meets emo, they’ve been known to garner some fans from mainstream radio-only sounds.
Straight No Chaser
Wednesday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m.
What started out as an a cappella group at Indiana University soon developed into a record deal and a national tour. This less-crazy form of Gnarls Barkley has covered popular songs like “Rehab,” “I’m Yours,” “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved,” and “Wonderwall.”
Friday, April 23 at 10:30 p.m.
Hard Rock Café
Having started out in the music biz as lead singer of the country band The Mavericks, Raul Malo knows how to write simple yet poetic words and pair them with beautiful strings of music to create pleasant songs. Born in Hawaii to Cuban parents, Malo lets an obvious Caribbean vibe color his music.
Sunday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m.
One of the biggest names to hit Pittsburgh this spring, Brand New has had a great deal of success. Their fourth and most recent album, Daisy, hit the shelves in September 2009. The rock quintet consists of Jesse Lacey, Garrett Tierney, Brian Lane, Vincent Accardi, and Derrick Sherman.
Miss May I
Thursday, April 29 at 6:30 p.m.
Their debut, Apologies Are for the Weak, came out in late June 2009. Members Levi Benton, Jerod Boyd, B.J. Stead, Justin Aufdenkampe, and Ryan Neff are enjoying the national touring that comes with being a band.
Their music isn’t for everyone, and unless you crave unidentifiable lyrics and hardcore screaming, Miss May I may not be your cup of tea. But for those who enjoy metal core, they’ve got heavy riffs and energy that’ll surely put on an entertaining show.
We the Kings, The Maine
Thursday, April 29 at 6:30 p.m.
We the Kings is a pop-punk band that’s hit mainstream radio a few times. You probably heard “Check Yes, Juliet” on MTV a few years ago, or “Heaven Can Wait” more recently. Their second album was released about four months ago. Though their sophomore album was considered a repeat of their debut, if you were originally a fan of Travis Clark, Hunter Thomsen, Drew Thomsen, and Dan Duncan, then you won’t be disappointed by their performance.
The Maine is made up of John O’Callaghan, Garrett Nickelsen, Pat Kirch, Kennedy Brock, and Jared Monaco. Their last album was released back in July 2008, but their recent efforts have gone into publishing a book of memoirs titled This Is Real Life.
Hard Rock Café
Sunday, May 2 at 8:30 p.m.
Jason Reeves gained independent fame only recently with his 2007 album The Magnificent Adventures of Heartbreak (And Other Frightening Tales). After writing every single lyric on the album and producing a quality CD, Reeves was picked up by Warner Bros. Records. Reeves has been best friends with Colbie Caillat since before his solo debut, frequently writing songs with her and occasionally providing background vocals on her songs.
The AP Tour (Never Shout Never, Hey Monday, The Cab, Every Avenue, The Summer Set)
Tuesday, May 4 at 6:30 p.m.
Piano- and ukulele-playing Christofer Ingle, working under the alias Never Shout Never, has released six EPs and is currently putting the final touches on its debut full-length album.
Hey Monday, a quartet that’s three parts guy and one part girl, tours while singing songs from their 2008 debut, Hold On Tight. Reminiscent of Paramore due to their lineup and pop-punk style, Cassadee Pope, Mike Gentile, Alex Lipshaw, and Michael Moriarty are nonetheless able to put together solid tunes.
The Cab, dubbed “The Band You Need to Know” in 2008’s Alternative Press, just released their debut album, Whisper War. The Las Vegas quartet consists of Alex DeLeon, Alex Marshall, Alex Johnson, and Joey Thunder.
Every Avenue, made up of David Strauchman, Joshua Randall, Jimmie Deeghan, Matt Black, and Dennis Wilson, may seem like any other pop-punk group out there today, but their music is quite refreshing.
The Summer Set, a power pop group comprised of Brian Dales, Stephen Gomez, Jess Bowen, John Gomez, and Josh Montgomery, debuted their first full-length album, Love Like This, in October 2009.
Sky Eats Airplane, Drop Dead, Gorgeous
Wednesday, May 5 at 7 p.m.
In July 2008, the charmingly named Sky Eats Airplane was introduced to the music scene. Their self-titled debut CD displayed Bryan Zimmerman, Lee Duck, Elliot Coleman, Zack Ordway, and Travis Orbin as members of a band combining screamo and metal core verse with pop-punk and emo choruses.
Drop Dead, Gorgeous released their third album, The Hot N’ Heavy, on June 2, 2009, and have since toured with over a dozen other bands. Drop Dead, Gorgeous consists of Danny Stillman, Kyle Browning, Jake Hansen, and Danny Cooper.
As I Lay Dying
Mr. Small’s Theater & Funhouse
Saturday, May 8 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 9 at 8 p.m.
As most of the shows Pittsburgh is hosting this spring are by up-and-coming metal core bands, As I Lay Dying is one of the most successful of them. They were Grammy nominees in 2008 for their song “Nothing Left.” The quintet of Tim Lambesis, Jordan Mancino, Phil Sgrosso, Nick Hipa, and Josh Hilpert will be releasing their fifth studio album, titled The Powerless Rise, in May.
Saturday, May 15 at 10:30 p.m.
Hard Rock Café
And if you’re around in Pittsburgh this summer, there are certainly some big names, both new and old, coming through the area. The hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse comes May 23. A trio of alternative pop-rock bands (Daughtry, Lifehouse, and Cavo) plays on June 2. The mellow men of the Dave Matthews Band — who manage to demand extremely high prices for tickets, but still sell out arenas and pavilions — play at PNC Park on July 10. The Amphitheatre at Station Square will host two great performers over the summer: on July 13, BB King performs, while on August 6, the Ladies of Heart will play.
Keep an eye out for the beginning of the school year next year, as Pittsburgh will be hosting big names like Rascal Flatts, Kings of Leon, and yes… Lady Gaga.