Summer may historically be considered concert season, but some of this year's biggest tours are poised to hit town this fall. Meanwhile, the series we've come to expect (VIA, the Warhol's Sound Series) return with heavy-hitting lineups.
For the rock traditionalist, a few major events are can't-miss. Neil Young and Crazy Horse play the Petersen Events Center on Oct. 9, and Bruce Springsteen hits Consol Energy Center Oct. 27. Legendary in its own right, Blondie plays the Palace Theater in Greensburg Oct. 5.
For the well-seasoned hipster, a few notable names from the annals of indie-rock royalty appear on the docket this season: Morrissey appears, unless he doesn't, on Oct. 23, at Heinz Hall; Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab plays Thunderbird Café on Sept. 26; and Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, The Make-Up) brings his new band, Chain and the Gang, to Brillobox Sept. 26. On Sept. 29, The Afghan Whigs, newly reunited, play Mr. Small's Theatre.
Nick Lowe, the legendary English songwriter, plays Mr. Small's Sept. 20. On Oct. 21, Stage AE hosts Fiona Apple, an innovator in her own right — and a top candidate for comeback kid of 2012, judging from the critical reception of her new album.
The Andy Warhol Museum's Sound Series brings a few notables to town; as it's been doing for more than a year now, it's splitting time between the Warhol's theater and the Carnegie Lecture Hall in Oakland. At the Warhol proper, find Sao Paulo Underground (Rob Mazurek's Brazilian-inflected jazz outfit) (Sept. 21), Julia Holter (Oct. 2), and Zammuto (sound-collager Nick Zammuto of The Books) (Oct. 11). At the Lecture Hall, Dean and Britta return Nov. 8 for the 75th performance of their "13 Most Beautiful ..." program, which premiered here in 2009, and The Magnetic Fields make its first Pittsburgh appearance in a decade on Nov. 16.
The first week of October is VIA Festival time. The annual high-profile music-and-new-media event has something of a home in its 6119 Penn Ave. venue, but some of the events take place elsewhere (Brillobox, Shadow Lounge, undisclosed locations, etc.). Big names this year include Gatekeeper, Laurel Halo, Ital, Ssion and a host of others.
If hip hop is your thing, September is loaded: Up-and-comer Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire shows up at Shadow Lounge Sept. 25, and at Altar Bar, catch Big K.R.I.T. (Sept. 26), Aesop Rock (Oct. 4), and — for those of you who are a little more old-school — 2 Live Crew (Oct. 6). Then there's that other sort of hip-hop outfit ... ICP headlines Stage AE on Oct. 26.
Speaking of old-school: Wanda Jackson will be on the eve of her 75th birthday when she appears at Altar Bar (Oct. 17); the early rockabilly singer and guitarist has been at it since rock 'n' roll was brand new. Sonny Landreth, for his part, isn't quite that old, but he's been a virtuoso blues guitarist for decades now, playing with John Hiatt and Jimmy Buffett, among others; he plays Jergel's Oct. 4.
Graying punks rejoice: Mike Watt, one of the more astounding bass players alive, returns to Club Café Oct. 20 with his current band, The Missingmen. Elsewhere, political punks Propagandhi play Altar Bar Oct. 7; leave the meat at home, please. In one of fall's more unexpected double bills, The English Beat and The Paul Collins Beat share the stage at Hard Rock Café Oct. 24. (You may recall that both bands started out in the '70s with the name The Beat, and had to change their respective names to stave off legal action from one another.)
For fans of heavy music, drone legends Earth come to Altar Bar Nov. 13, and, with Randy Blythe popped from the Prague jail where he sat earlier this summer, Lamb of God plays Stage AE Nov. 27.
And if all you're looking for is the quintessential Pittsburgh experience, don't forget that Rusted Root plays on the Gateway Clipper on Thanksgiving Eve, Nov. 21.