Critics' Picks: March 27 - April 2 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics' Picks: March 27 - April 2

Local shows from Brokeback, Grizzly Bear, Boats, the Revival Tour and Kevin Bowe


Douglas McCombs' Brokeback broke its silence with a new record this year; the Tortoise bassist and guitarist hadn't released anything with his side project in a decade. McCombs' new Brokeback lineup — including members of Head of Skulls! and Pinebender — has been playing together since 2010, perfecting eclectic tunes that are jazzy, math-y and thoughtful, and never boring. Brokeback plays the Smiling Moose tonight with Grand Piano and Smooth Tutors. Andy Mulkerin 6:30 p.m. 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $10. 412-431-4668 or


Minneapolis songwriter Kevin Bowe has had plenty of success — though mostly through songs he wrote for other people. Jonny Lang, Etta James and Kenny Wayne Shepherd have all recorded songs that Bowe had a hand in creating, and you've heard his material on ESPN as well. He and his band, the Okemah Prophets, recently released Natchez Trace, their first album since 1999. It's good stuff from a talented guy; tonight, he plays Club Café with the band, and local singer Melinda. AM 6 p.m. 56 S. 12th St., South Side. $8. 412-431-4950 or

click to enlarge Photo courtesy of Tom Hines
Photo courtesy of Tom Hines


Since its latest album, Shields, was released last July, Grizzly Bear has become the standard by which indie-rock bands are judged. With a softer sound that marries detailed, well-produced ambience with structures that are distinctively poppy, the band has achieved a level of near-universal likability without losing credibility as a group of skilled musicians. It's the sort of music that can gain traction among reasonably hip parents and college radio stations alike. The attention to detail and intricacy of some of the tracks will fit nicely into the old-timey setting of the Carnegie Music Hall, where Grizzly Bear will be rocking out with Owen Pallett on Saturday. John Lavanga 8 p.m 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $29.50. 412-622-3131


Not to bash on Winnipeg, but it's not exactly the Canadian city that comes to mind when discussing burgeoning art scenes. Still, there's some good stuff happening out there on the frozen prairie, like delightfully poppy rockers Boats. The group has been releasing music in some form or another since 2003, and last month's release, A Fairway Full of Miners, is clearly the culmination of years of honing its spacey, analog synth-assisted sound. It's upbeat, driven by crisp, laid-back bass lines, accentuated by the playful use of synthesizer, and sprinkled with just a hint of that psychedelic, out-there vibe. At Howler's Coyote Café tonight with The Lopez and Dean Cercone. JL 8 p.m. 4509 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $5. 412-682-0320 or

click to enlarge Photo courtesy of Tom Stone.
Photo courtesy of Tom Stone.


It's not a revival in the speaking-in-tongues sense, but the Revival Tour has become something of a ritual for fans of punk bands from 10 or 15 years ago. Each year, the tour brings around a traveling band of songwriters with their acoustic guitars — many, like tour founder Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music and Dave Hause of The Loved Ones, veterans of punk outfits. Tonight, the tour stops at Altar Bar; filling out the bill are Toh Kay, Rocky Votolato and Jenny Owen Youngs. AM 7 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $22-24. All ages. 412-206-9719 or

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