Critics' Picks: May 24 - 29 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics' Picks: May 24 - 29

Local shows by Action Bronson, Ben Folds, Capsula and Michael Franti and Spearhead, plus a curtain call for The Slow Reel and Nik and the Central Plains

[HIP HOP] + THU., MAY 24

With throwbacks to traditional hip hop through old-style beats, Action Bronson puts his own spin on the rap game. The chef-turned-rapper, of Albanian descent, cites Kool G Rap and Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killa as influences on his rhymes, and he illustrates it on the mic. His 2011 album Dr. Lecter, produced by Tommy Mas, is dominated by his unique vocal style backed by jazz-heavy samples. He takes the stage at Altar Bar tonight alongside Beedie, Crystal Seth, Ace 4 A Day, and Double A-B. Gregg Harrington 7 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $12-14. 412-263-2877 or


After the breakup of Ben Folds Five in 2000, Ben Folds embarked as a solo artist, releasing three solo albums in the '00s. In 2009 he was thrust back into the mainstream when he was featured as a judge on NBC's talent show The Sing Off, and last year he got back together with Ben Folds Five. (The band's first album in more than a decade is currently in the works.) He reprises a role he took on in February 2010 when he plays with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra tonight at Heinz Hall. GH 8 p.m. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $35-95. 412-392-4900 or


We gather tonight at Brillobox to mark the passing of two bands that have become fixtures on the local indie-roots scene: The Slow Reel and Nik and the Central Plains. The Slow Reel came to town from southern climes in 2009 (it was called Small Cities then), and, after some lineup and name changes, released a stellar full-length last year, and a last-hurrah record this spring. That band's members are headed to different parts of the country after tonight. Likewise the Central Plains; frontman Nik Westman has been living in Brooklyn since last summer, and bassist Kraig Decker is headed for Washington, D.C., soon, effectively ending the outfit. Wish them both farewell tonight. Chet Vincent and the Big Bend — who, as far as we know, are staying together — open. Andy Mulkerin 10 p.m. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $5. 412-621-4900 or

Photo courtesy of Pedro Agustin


Capsula comes to us from Argentina by way of Bilbao, Spain; the three-piece has been making gritty, post-Velvet Underground psych rock since the late '90s. Its latest — which involves some glam-rock aspirations — is last year's In the Land of the Silver Souls. Tonight the band plays the 31st Street Pub; The Ceiling Stares and Drugula open. AM 10 p.m. 3101 Penn Ave., Strip District. $6. 412-391-8334 or

[SOUL] + TUE., MAY 29

Michael Franti does it all: a bit of hip hop, some new-style soul, occasional reggae, all wrapped up in a politically conscious but positive package. He got his start in the late-'80s Bay Area punk band The Beatnigs, but gained more fame in the late '90s with his current band, Spearhead. Tonight they play the Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead; Zach Heckendorf opens. AM 7:30 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. $35-38. 412-368-5225 or

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