Critics’ Picks, Feb. 25 – March 2 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics’ Picks, Feb. 25 – March 2

Performances by RJD2, Julia Holter, Kacey Musgraves, Amy Helm and Potty Mouth

click to enlarge Critics’ Picks, Feb. 25 – March 2
Photo courtesy of Nick Fancher

[DJ] + SAT., FEB. 27

It’s hard to classify the Philadelphia-based producer RJD2. Does he make electronica? Hip hop? Funk? Soul? Indie rock? The truth is that RJD2 combines a lot of elements into a bizarre melting pot that sometimes sounds like backpack hip hop (think more Aesop Rock, less A$AP Rocky), sometimes sounds like Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips, and sometimes sounds like something you just can’t quite put your finger on. Decide for yourself tonight at Mr. Small’s, where RJD2 performs with support from Badboxes and Chalk Dinosaur. Andrew Woehrel 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $20-22. 412-821-4447 or

click to enlarge Critics’ Picks, Feb. 25 – March 2
Photo courtesy of Tonje Thilesen
Julia Holter

[ART POP] + SAT., FEB. 27

Following dreamlike records inspired by Euripides and Gigi, Julia Holter’s 2015 release Have You in My Wilderness is her poppiest and most accessible work, and probably her most complex. A casual listen will reveal layers of ambient melodies and celestial vocals, but it takes longer to notice the odd mix of humor and solemnity that gives her work weight. For example, in the video for the baroque-y, burlesque-y single “Everytime Boots,” Holter plays a cowgirl being followed through town by a cowboy — an amusing premise that isn’t played for laughs. Tonight, Holter brings her distinctive sound to Club Café. Circuit Des Jeux also appears. Margaret Welsh 10 p.m. 56 S. 12th St., South Side. $15. 412-431-4950 or


Kacey Musgraves would like us to think she’s a clumsy mess who smokes too much weed and always says the wrong thing. But I suspect the singer-songwriter — who received a slew of Grammy nominations after releasing 2013’s endlessly clever Same Trailer Different Park — is just trying to make the rest of us feel better about ourselves. Relateability is key to country stardom, and Musgraves (appearing tonight at Stage AE) has that down. But she also writes damn catchy songs, making her one of those rare artists whose fans include both pop-country radio listeners and old-country purists. MW 6:30 p.m. 400 North Shore Drive, North Side. $30-35. 412-229-5483 or


Amy Helm (daughter of Levon Helm and singer Libby Titus), and her band, The Handsome Strangers, play tonight at Altar Bar, supporting singer-songwriter Anders Osborne. Like her father, Amy sings country and folk rock with a soul-tinged voice, plays the drums and the mandolin, and leads raucous, communal sing-alongs in Levon’s barn in Woodstock, N.Y. Her original work with the Handsome Strangers veers into blues and Latin-rock territory, almost invoking visions of Santana, though thankfully Rob Thomas is nowhere to be found. AW 8 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $20-23. 412-263-2877 or


Northampton, Mass.’s sassy trio Potty Mouth has punk elements: the fuzzed-out bass; the guitar moves that lie somewhere between Nada Surf and Nirvana; and an attitude that brings to mind MTV’s cartoon heroine Daria. But vocalist Abby Weems sounds a little too Alanis Morissette to truly receive the punk qualifier. That’s not a bad thing, though, and Potty Mouth carries the alternative banner quite handily. See the band tonight at The Smiling Moose with Stove and The Lopez. AW 6:30 p.m. 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $10. 412-431-4668 or

Women & Non-binary Bike Summit
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Women & Non-binary Bike Summit

By Mars Johnson