Critics’ Picks, Jan. 21-27 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics’ Picks, Jan. 21-27

Performances by Funeral Chic and The Toasters, plus the Mr. Roboto Project revives a fundraiser, and the PSO takes on Aaron Copland and Bon Iver

click to enlarge The Gotobeds - CP FILE PHOTO BY HEATHER MULL
CP file photo by Heather Mull
The Gotobeds


The Mr. Roboto Project has been working hard for Pittsburgh’s music scene for nearly two decades. The volunteer-run nonprofit has booked hundreds of great shows and provided an alternative to bar and club culture. Tonight, an old tradition of Roboto fundraising — one dating to the venue’s old Wilkinsburg location — is revived. Building A Better Robot is an event where some of Pittsburgh’s biggest DIY acts raise money for this institution. This year, the event features Sub Pop darlings The Gotobeds, retro supergroup Dream Phone, bonafide hip-hop legend Mrs. Paintbrush and promising newcomers Blod Maud. Andrew Woehrel 7 p.m. 5106 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $5-10.

[METAL] + MON., JAN. 25

Music fans who aren’t really, really into metal usually just call anything with heavy guitars “metal” or “hardcore,” but real metal fans like to pinpoint the exact genre specifications of their favorite bands. You end up with genre names that sound like ways you could cook a steak, like “blackened crust.” (I think some people call that “Pittsburgh rare,” actually.) North Carolina punishers Funeral Chic are a perfect example of a blackened-crust band. The word “chic” is not usually what comes to mind when you hear bludgeoning guitar sounds, hammering drums and throat-shredding vocals, so there’s a bit of cognitive dissonance here. You can catch Funeral Chic, as well as Joy, Heavens Die and more, at the Mr. Roboto Project tonight. AW 7 p.m. 5106 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $5.

[SKA] + TUE., JAN. 26

The Toasters aren’t named after the household appliance, but if that helps your enjoyment of the group, then by all means picture the members of this classic third-wave ska act as anthropomorphic toasters, a la the nightmarish 1987 children’s animated feature The Brave Little Toaster. All jokes aside, The Toasters are named after the Jamaican vocal style of “toasting,” a precursor to rap that is prevalent in reggae and dancehall music. Formed in 1981, The Toasters are legends in the world of ska. You can catch the group tonight at Club Café with support from The Pressure and Inco Fido. AW 8 p.m. 56 S. 12th St., South Side. $13-15. 412-431-4950 or

click to enlarge Steve Hackman
Steve Hackman


Tonight, conductor Steve Hackman collaborates with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to present the third installment of his FUSE series — this time combining the works of 20th-century American composer Aaron Copland with the songs of  modern indie-folk troubadour Bon Iver. Previous FUSE events have included Brahms vs. Radiohead and Beethoven vs. Coldplay, and tonight’s event at Heinz Hall promises delight in a similar vein. Copland’s pastoral Appalachian Spring’s sense of celebration makes a sharp contrast to the isolation found in Justin Vernon’s For Emma, Forever Ago, which Hackman and the PSO will explore. Local electronic/brass group Beauty Slap will make a guest appearance, its liveliness a juxtaposition to the tranquility of Copland + Bon Iver. AW 6:30 p.m. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $30-35. 412-392-4900 or

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