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Critics' Picks: August 20 - 26 

Local shows by OFF!, The Soil and the Sun, and Bombadil, plus the sixth edition of Skull Fest

[PUNK] + THU., AUG. 21

It's the end of August and you kids are going back to school. Before that big first day, some go back-to-school shopping, some go on last-minute vacations and others go to punk fests. Skull Fest is back again for the latter, and brings you four days of circle pits, moshing and general throwing-down. In its sixth year, the fest will take over Pittsburgh venues like Mr. Small's, Belvedere's and The Mr. Roboto Project, among others, with over 40 bands, including Infest, Gay Mayor and Krang. Full-festival passes are $60. The festival kicks off tonight at Mr. Roboto Project with Krang, Process, Shadows and Silence. Zach Brendza 6 p.m. 5106 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $10. All ages. Full schedule at www.skullfestpgh.com

click to enlarge OFF! plays at altar bar
  • Photo courtesy of Dimitri Coats

[PUNK] + SAT., AUG. 23

Keith Morris knows a bit about punk: In the '80s, he fronted Black Flag and Circle Jerks. In 2009, Morris started punk supergroup OFF!, the band that sends you back to punk's heyday. On top of that, drummer Dale Crover of The Melvins is touring with OFF! this summer as a fill-in for regular drummer Mario Rubalcaba (of Rocket From the Crypt fame). The band's latest album, Wasted Years, released in April, was recorded in its practice space with little preparation, giving it an old-school feel. The band plays tonight at Altar Bar with Bad Antics and GAY KISS. ZB 8 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $15-18. All ages. 412-206-9719 or www.thealtarbar.com

click to enlarge The Soil and the Sun at Smiling Moose
  • Photo courtesy of Rotten Photography

[INDIE] + SUN., AUG. 24

The Soil and the Sun's music has an ultimately calming vibe — not unlike the members of the band themselves, who travel the country in a bus with their kids, rock-hippie style, and keep a mellow vibe. The band's brand-new Meridian full-length was recorded with big-time producer Rick Fritz, known for his engineering work on latter-day Beach Boys and Peter Cetera records; Fritz helped the six-piece embody its spirit and ethic on a beautiful sonic ride. The band pulls its caravan into the Smiling Moose tonight. Andy Mulkerin 6:30 p.m. 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $10. All ages. 412-431-4668 or www.smiling-moose.com

click to enlarge Durham, N.C.'s Bombadil plays at Mr. Smalls
  • Photo courtesy of Todd Cooper

[FOLK POP] + MON., AUG. 25

Durham, N.C.'s Bombadil is on the road touring behind the re-release of its 2009 album, Tarpits and Canyonlands. After the album's release, the folk-pop band came to a standstill when bassist Daniel Michalak was diagnosed with neural tension. The condition caused pain to the point where he couldn't brush his teeth, let alone play his instrument. After years of treatments, different doctors and searching for a cure, Michalak and Bombadil are back in the saddle. The band plays tonight at Mr. Small's with Kishi Bashi and HEIDEMANN. ZB 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $13. All ages. 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com

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