Critics' Picks, July 23-28 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


Imagine a band solely dedicated to Imagine Dragons' tiresome gimmick to get the blood pumping (drums, drums and more drums) — but with an interesting, classical approach. The Kraken Quartet consists of four men playing a pair of drum kits, an arsenal of xylophones and keyboards, with zero attempts at empty bombast. The songs employ a logical, ground-up structure with sparse xylophone and drum lines building on one another to create a complex percussive canvas. Tonight, the band plays some brand-new music and cuts from its self-titled 2014 EP at The Mr. Roboto Project, with Nappatite, Tape Monster and SKGB. Shawn Cooke 7 p.m. 5106 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $5. 412-345-1059 or

[RAP] + FRI., JULY 24

Several months ago, Waka Flocka Flame might have thought that tonight's show at Altar Bar would be supporting his long-anticipated Flockaveli 2. On Twitter, he reported a June 1 release date and star-studded guest list (Drake, Kanye West, Jay Z and 50 Cent), but he's since retracted some of those names and cited issues with Atlantic for holding up the release. But if there's one positive for the follow-up's state in purgatory, the unmistakably aggressive rapper has more time to focus on his presidential aspirations. Tonight, Waka gets support from D.R.A.M. and DJ Whoo Kid. SC 8 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $28-75. 21 and over. 412-206-9719 or


Café 304 is having a blues night — with a side of ice cream. For Hot Blues and Cool Treats, the folks at New City Church are bringing in some top talent, including the Grammy-winning James Hollihan Jr. (of Russ Taff), Mark Rodgers, Andy Gabig and more, plus some cold desserts from Mazzanti's Beans and Creamery. The event is free of charge, but they're encouraging a donation of school supplies for The Homeless Children's Education Fund. SC 8 p.m. 304 Forbes Ave. (second floor), Downtown. Free. 412-977-3044 or

[FOLK] + SUN., JULY 26

The Tallest Man on Earth has been simultaneously sanding down his edges and expanding for years now. After the bracing, ragged "guy with guitar" days of the excellent Shallow Grave and The Wild Hunt, Kristian Matsson keeps adding instruments to the mix while softening his vocal approach. It doesn't get much easier than pointing out the Dylan comparisons or Matsson's height (5'7" — not threatening any world records), but this year's Dark Bird Is Home is his tallest collection yet. Most every song welcomes a full band with electric guitars and lush strings. He's not channeling Dylan anymore — he's channeling The War on Drugs channeling Dylan. Matsson performs tonight at the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. SC 8 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. $25. 412-462-3444 or

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