Critics’ Picks, Jan. 5-11 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics’ Picks, Jan. 5-11

Performances by Galactic Empire, DOG, T-Tops, Reel Big Fish, Cherry Mellow and more

Rather than spending your evenings quietly weeping into your Star Wars collectables, celebrate Carrie Fisher’s legacy tonight at the Rex Theater. 3 Rivers Comicon and New Dimension Comics join forces to host Galactic Empire, a mathy metal band that recreates John Williams’ finest work in a style that’ll open up the (sarlacc) pit. Speaking of, Pittsburgh’s resident Star Wars-inspired thrash and/or doom metal band Sarlacc will open the gig, along with heavy rockers Unparalleled Height. Meg Fair 8 p.m. 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. $9-15. All ages. 412-381-6811 or

[NOISE] + SAT., JAN. 7
The Bronx seems to be churning out all sorts of challenging noise artists these days, and DOG is no exception. Tonight’s Gooski's gig is for folks who are into shrieking, existentialism and really loud guitars. With drowning melodies and thrashing movements, the aggressive, grating three-piece will make you feel as if you’re being shoved through a wood chipper made out of technicolor Play-Doh. Joining the lineup is Choir (noise rock married to punk), tanning machine (noisy synthpunk from the void), and Tiger May, a brand-new act from the 412. MF 8 p.m. 3117 Brereton St., Polish Hill. $6. 412-681-1658

click to enlarge T-Tops - CP PHOTO BY MIKE SCHWARZ
CP photo by Mike Schwarz

[LOUD] + SAT., JAN. 7

Tonight, hit up Overcast Skate Shop and help T-Tops celebrate the release of its brand-new Face of Depression 7-inch. All four tracks of this release are steeped in loud, grungy rock sounds and heavy punk influences. It’s the kind of rock best enjoyed with a dark beer (this gig is BYO) and a salty attitude (but no jerks allowed). Bratty punk-rock band The Lopez and catchy, pop-tinged rock act Reign Check round out this lineup. MF 8:30 p.m. 4116 Main St., Bloomfield. All ages. $5. 412-701-4116 or

Mixed-genre shows shine when the bands are connected through an unexpected sonic theme, and tonight, Howlers has this on lock: Each act on this half-local/half-Bostonian bill is tethered together with a subtle psychedelic thread. From Pittsburgh, Moonspeaker performs warmly reverb-drenched, washed-out folk while Blue Clutch reps a darker progressive rock. And from Boston, The Max Tribe exists on the frontier of ominous bluesy rock, and Cherry Mellow has an unpredictable indie vibe that varies between gentle and harsh. MF 7:30 p.m. 4509 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $5. 412-682-0320 or

click to enlarge Anti-Flag - PHOTO COURTESY OF MEGAN THOMPSON
Photo courtesy of Megan Thompson

[SKA] + WED., JAN. 11
The early 2000s are alive at Stage AE, and tonight’s show offers an evening of skanking, headbanging, gentle circle-pitting and flipping off the government. The goofy ska veterans of Cali-based Reel Big Fish promise immense fun and tomfoolery, while Aberdeen, Md.’s Ballyhoo! complements RBF’s manic energy with reggae-heavy ska. The babies on this tour are Direct Hit!, a Milwaukee band that’s been churning out earnest pop punk on Fat Wreck Chords. Of course this gig would not be complete without Anti-Flag, a band that, in this town, surely needs no introduction. MF 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Drive, North Side. $25-27. All ages. 412-229-5483 or

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