With bands like the joyous Two Door Cinema Club and hometown hip-hop hero Wiz Khalifa, this year’s Thrival Innovation and Music Festival at the Carrie Furnaces, in Rankin, Sept. 27-30, will feel like a perfect kiss-off or fireworks finale to months of summer lovin’ and festival-goin’.
Wiz and Logic at Thrival aren’t the only incredible rappers rolling through the 412 this fall. Iconic Grammy-winning Big Boi (one half of Outkast, if you’re living under a rock) will take over Mr. Smalls on Sept. 14 to celebrate his latest release, Boomiverse, and master femcee Snow Tha Product will rule over the Rex Theater Oct. 31. Fusing hip hop and jazz since the early ’90s, Digable Planets bring the laid-back grooves and bars to the August Wilson Center on Sept. 22.
If you’re hoping to have your face melted off in time for Halloween, seeing legendary pioneers of industrial metal Ministry with the experimental hip-hop and professional maniacs Death Grips Oct. 21 at Stage AE will certainly do the trick. Before that, Stage AE will play host to original edge-master and true freak Marilyn Manson on Sept. 29.
If dreamy, folksy tuneage with a splash of rock is more your speed, you absolutely cannot miss the mesmerizing Valerie June (Sept. 15), nor should you skip Big Thief (Sept. 19), both at Mr. Smalls.
Speaking of rock, isn’t it crazy that Pile basically invented rock music and also guitar solos? OK, so maybe I’m being hyperbolic, but Pile really does fucking rock, and you can catch the band with local shred machine edhochuli on Sept. 21, at the Funhouse at Mr. Smalls. The following day, Sept. 22, you can shake off your bangover and head to the Mr. Roboto Project to catch the crushing, technical emo with hardcore bite that CityCop serves up. And just about a month later, on Oct. 22, you can catch more gnarly shreddage at Cattivo, this time in the hardcore world with beatdown professionals Jesus Piece and bouncy emotive hardcore outfit Comeback Kid.
Pittsburgh is also welcoming influential tenured artists of rock left and right this fall. Queens of the Stone Age will perform at Stage AE, on Sept. 13, to support its seventh album, Villains. Broken Social Scene plays the Byham on Oct. 1, and Pixies take Stage AE just a few days later, on Oct. 4. The next night, on Oct. 5, deerhoof takes over Mr. Smalls, ensuring a clinic on how to shred your instruments and transcend space and time through performance.
Experimental pop outfit Sylvan Esso brings its unique brand of bright, shiny electronic magic to Stage AE on Sept. 16. Tei Shi’s daring pop will keep the folks of Cattivo grooving on Sept. 24, and Spirit presents an entire evening of synth-heavy pop on Oct. 15, courtesy of TV Girl and brothertiger.
Power-pop darlings Charly Bliss, whose album Guppy is my current pick for album of the year, return for a gig at Cattivo on Sept. 26; indie-pop outfit Now, Now makes its triumphant post-hiatus arrival there on Oct. 7.
Some of the most brilliant songwriters will be strolling through the city as the leaves begin to change and fall. The infinitely gifted singer/songwriter Julien Baker is joined by the sublime, otherworldly pop of Half Waif at Mr. Smalls on Oct. 18. Heartwrenching songstress Waxahatchee performs at Spirit Hall with infectious, Talking Heads-tinged rock act Ought on Nov. 8. If you’re craving some spoken word instead that same night, Listener brings its truly unique brand of moving poetry over ambient rockscapes and tumultuous compositions to the Smiling Moose.
Speaking of talented songwriters, nearly Pittsburgh-based band Looming celebrates the release of its second album, Seed, at the Funhouse at Mr. Smalls on Oct. 17, and it’s sure to be an absolutely captivating night of intricate rock.
Regina Spektor brings her powerful storytelling and incredible skills as a pianist to the Palace Theater, in Greensburg, on Nov. 7. Her presence is very moving, so bring some tissues. I’m not saying that the first time I saw her I cried from the time she stepped onto the stage until 20 minutes after the show ended, but I’m just saying it’s possible.
Speaking of crying, The National is playing at Mr. Smalls on Oct. 7, if you’re trying to get all up in your feelings to really beautiful indie rock. If you’re not trying to cry, but you are trying to party, you could head to Mr. Smalls on Oct. 9 instead to see the king of party, Andrew W.K.
Jessica Lea Mayfield’s country-tinged rock will be joined by Mal Blum’s twangy punk rock at Club Café on Oct. 14. Speaking of twangy rock, add some bitter venom and burning cynicism to that recipe, and you’ll have AJJ, performing at Spirit on Nov. 4 in celebration of People Who Can Eat People’s 10-year anniversary.
Punk fans can rejoice at the absolutely insane lineup on Oct. 8 at Mr. Smalls featuring the iconic Against Me! with the shredding rock of Bleached and The Dirty Nil. On Oct. 15, the amplitude stays high at Howlers for PEARS and Big Ups.
Your entire fall will be a giant waste, however, if you don’t get your butt to PPG Paints Arena to see the living legend Janet Jackson on Nov. 29. It’s Ms. Jackson, if you’re nasty.