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Critics' Picks: Aug 12 - 18 

Local shows by Amon Amarth, Mr. Big and Justin Townes Earle, plus a Title Town soul night in Oakland, and Skull Fest

[PUNK] + FRI., AUG. 12

If Warped Tour is a little too … er … poser for you, perhaps a trip to Skull Fest is warranted. This weekend marks the third edition of the local punk-and-hardcore festival; tonight's kickoff show at The Shop is headlined by Crazy Spirit, Perdition, Infernal Stronghold and Vivisect. Additional events later in the weekend include a Saturday-night show at Belvedere's, featuring New York legends Reagan Youth and a reunion of early-'00s local heroes Fortiori. Plus there are tangential events -- like a punks' picnic in an undisclosed location. ("Ask a punk," goes the official line.) Andy Mulkerin 5 p.m. 4314 Main St., Bloomfield. $8. All ages. skullfest3.blogspot.com

 

[SOUL & FUNK] + SAT., AUG. 13

By now you're used to the folks behind Title Town Soul & Funk Party playing every last Saturday of the month at Shadow Lounge. But tonight J. Malls and Gordy G branch out, presenting Soul Night at The Hideout. It promises to be a mid-month fix of a lot of the same '60s and '70s soul and funk that spins at Title Town; it all takes place at the bar and sometimes-music-venue on Bates Street right near the Parkway exit. AM 9 p.m. 45 Bates St., Oakland. $5. 412-969-3832 

click to enlarge COURTESY OF STEVE BROWN
  • Courtesy of Steve Brown

[DEATH METAL] + TUE., AUG. 16

You don't have to be a nerd to enjoy Viking metal, but … OK, OK, sure, you sort of do. But no one's judging here. The members of Amon Amarth go to great pains to point out that they're actually a death-metal band, and not exactly a Viking metal band. But when your songs have names like "Embrace of the Endless Ocean" and "Valhall Awaits Me," you can only do so much to deflect that label. Regardless of precisely what they play, the band of surly Swedes does it well, and has found great, nerdy success. Amon Amarth plays Mr. Small's Theatre tonight. AM 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $22.50-25. All ages. 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com

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[HAIR BANDS] + TUE., AUG. 16

Paul Gilbert can probably assert, without too much worry, the claim that he's the greatest guitarist to ever come out of Greensburg-Salem High School. He has, of course, made plenty of top-10 and top-50 lists as one of the greatest guitarists of modern times. Gilbert spends more time in Japan than Westmoreland County these days, but he returns to the homeland tonight with Mr. Big, the band he helped found in the '80s, which this year released its first album in 10 years. Whitesnake headlines the show at the Trib Total Media Amphitheatre. AM 7 p.m. Station Square, South Side. $35-60. All ages. 800-745-3000

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[ALT-COUNTRY] + THU., AUG. 18

Justin Townes Earle is a strong argument for the old adage about the apple falling from the tree: The son of alt-country legend Steve Earle is the consummate outlaw musician. Early-onset drug addiction, altercations with venue personnel and the dubious distinction of once having been kicked out of his own dad's band color the singer-songwriter's myth. Earle, who has four albums to his name on Bloodshot Records, appears tonight at Mr. Small's Theatre. AM 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $15-17. All ages. 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com

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