Critics' Picks: March 20 - 26 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics' Picks: March 20 - 26

Local shows by Caspian, San Cisco, Phosphorescent and Hank & Cupcakes, plus Mason Bates joins IonSound for a performance at the Warhol


Last fall, Mason Bates began his term as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's composer-in-residence. Tonight, he continues his reign in a performance with the local new-music ensemble IonSound. The night's programming will range from the electronic beats Bates is known for to a composition by Martin Matalon that scores Luis Bunuel's (in)famous film Un Chien Andalou, which will screen as the piece is played. It all takes place at the Andy Warhol Museum. Andy Mulkerin 8 p.m. 117 Sandusky St., North Side. $15-18. All ages. 412-237-8300 or


Eight or nine years back, the Beverly, Mass.-based post-rock outfit Caspian was a collection of wannabes looking to crack into the genre. Since then, the band's really come into its own, creating the sort of carefully crafted music that the members admired in their idols. This is especially evident on their 2012 release Waking Season, an album full of tracks that are all uniquely cinematic, each one building from its own peaceful beginning to a stunning apex. It's a versatile album as well, making use of the sounds from a glockenspiel, a music box, and a smashed car windshield, among other things. With Native and Nevada Mountains at the Smiling Moose. John Lavanga 6 p.m. 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $12. All ages. 412-431-4668 or


Deeming a band's music "catchy" can carry some negative connotations. Sometimes, "catchy" is just code for the sort of vapid, fleeting stuff that no one's going to remember five years down the road. Still, it's difficult to use any other word to describe indie-pop combo San Cisco. The band's newest EP Awkward is full of sunny guitar riffs, cheery hand claps, and irresistable back-and-forth between vocalists Scarlett Stevens and Jordi Davison. Even the most straight-laced listener will find himself "do-do-do"-ing along in no time. The band plays Brillobox tonight with Chaos Chaos. JL 4104 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville. 9:30 p.m. $12. 412-621-4900 or


There's a bit of Alabama and a bit of Brooklyn in Matthew Houck, and there's a bit of each in his musical project, Phosphorescent, too. The basis of the music is often country-ish, but there's a wave of ambient psychedelia over much of it. His latest — recorded with other musicians, but not really as a "band" per se — is Muchacho, issued this week by Dead Oceans. It starts with a beautiful, harmony-laden opening called "Sun, Arise!" and rolls on from there, as much synth as twang. It's a keeper, and Houck brings Phosphorescent to Club Cafe tonight; Philadelphia's Strand of Oaks opens. AM 7 p.m. 56 S. 12th St., South Side. $15. 412-431-4950 or 

click to enlarge Photo courtesy of Robin Souma
Photo courtesy of Robin Souma


Now then, to set some things straight: It's Hank & Cupcakes, not Hank and the Cupcakes. There are two of them, and they're from Tel Aviv via Brooklyn, and they have a lot of fun. Cupcakes plays drums and sings, while Hank holds down the bass line, and they make catchy dance-pop while giving an over-the-top live show that's not to be missed. And they play tonight at Howlers; Ocean Icon, Your 33 Black Angels and Sal Farina also play. AM 8 p.m. 4509 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $7. 412-682-0320 or

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