Critics' Picks: September 5 - 11 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics' Picks: September 5 - 11

The Irish Festival opens, plus local shows from Mono, Sondre Lerche, William Elliott Whitmore and Wye Oak



It's like Christmas in July for people who like Irish stuff: At the opposite end of the calendar from St. Patrick's Day comes the Pittsburgh Irish Festival, in its 22nd iteration this year. The smatterin' o' Irish culture takes place at the Sandcastle Riverplex, and features music galore. There are the regulars (The Makem and Spain Brothers, Gaelic Storm) and locals (Bastard Bearded Irishmen, Callan). Then there are a few unique additions: Skerryvore, which hails from Scotland, and Beltaine, from ... Poland. Do they prefer pierogies or boxty? Only one way to find out. Andy Mulkerin 4 p.m. Continues through Sun., Sept. 9. 1000 Sandcastle Drive, Homestead. $10-12. All ages. 412-422-1113 or

Photo courtesy of Yusuke Okada


Mono has been making wordless, epic music for over a decade now; the Japanese band is one of the main standard-bearers when it comes to the brand of post-rock that became all the rage in the mid-2000s. Think a less dainty, more overwhelming Sigur Ros without the chatter, or a slightly more sinister Explosions in the Sky. Mono plays Mr. Small's Theatre tonight with opener Chris Brokaw (of Come and Codeine). AM 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $15. All ages. 412-821-4447 or

[POP] + TUE., SEPT. 11

It seems like only yesterday that Sondre Lerche was a fresh-faced teen from Norway, wooing us with his Bacharachian arrangements and charming, if sometimes non-sequitur, lyrics. Now he's a fresh-faced 30-year-old who's doing pretty much the same. He recently issued Bootlegs, his first full album of live material, and is planning a vinyl re-release of his first four albums soon. He's innovative and charismatic, whether with a band or alone with his guitar; catch him tonight at the New Hazlett Theater. Fancy Colors opens. AM 8 p.m. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $18-20. 412-320-4610 or

[FOLK] + WED., SEPT. 12

Talk about a stacked bill: Tonight's show at Club Café is headlined by the gravel-voiced troubadour William Elliott Whitmore, but the support comes from Samantha Crain, one of the more unique young voices to emerge in the alt-country world in recent years. Whitmore's tunes — and 'tude — have a punk edge, and he's toured with the likes of Lucero and The Pogues. Crain's folk-flavored material was bolstered by an uninhibited rock band on her 2010 release You (Understood). This one's worth the price of the ticket — especially with Bluebird Midwest (Roger Harvey of White Wives) opening. AM 8 p.m. 56 S. 12th St., South Side. $13. 412-431-4950 or


Last year's offering from Wye Oak, Civilian, was one of the year's most haunting, heartbreaking and beautiful albums. (Some, including the Onion's A.V. Club, called it the best of 2011.) After a short break earlier this year in which Jenn Wasner tried out her electronic, solo-ish act Flock of Dimes, the duo is back on the road. Tonight, they play Mr. Small's Theatre, a step up from last year's stuffy, sold-out Club Café show. Callers and Cold Weather open. AM 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $13-15. All ages. 412-821-4447 or

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