After all the outdoor concerts and festivals of the summer, it's just about time to start taking the music back inside -- back to old standby rock 'n' roll clubs like the 31st Street Pub, metal and punk bars like the Smiling Moose, and of course that Pittsburgh institution, Gooski's. But as you say goodbye to Post-Gazette Pavilion and hello again to Pittsburgh's various indoor venues, you may have more options than you realize.
Those looking for something a bit more elevated than the rock club or dive bar might consider the different halls and theaters offering live music this season. On the North Side, there's the restored multi-use New Hazlett Theatre, hosting U.K. art-punks the Mekons (Sept. 30); nearby, the Manchester Craftsman's Guild offers a full schedule of jazz-oriented performances, including vocalist Lalah Hathaway's tribute to Shirley Horn and Sarah Vaughan (Nov. 8-11). The Andy Warhol Museum continues to schedule underground icons and artsy indie groups that regularly sell out its rather small, staid performance space -- expect Yo La Tengo to fill both the shows it plays there on Oct. 9.
Across the river, in the Cultural District, the grand performance spaces cater to audiences of the prescription-only variety (Tori Amos, Oct. 30, Benedum Center), the self-medicated (Mickey Hart's Global Drum Project, Oct. 18, Byham Theater), and the high-on-life (Kenny G., Dec. 7, Benedum Center). To that last category, you can add Ryan Adams, now shockingly sober after years of debauchery, performing with The Cardinals on Oct. 29 at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. (=Andrew Bird also flits into that venue, on Oct. 2.)
A slightly out-of-the-way but worth-the-trip venue is the beautiful Carnegie Library of Homestead, which has recently begun hosting high-profile shows. It's a refreshing change of pace, but be forewarned: There's no alcohol, at least that I've seen so far, and you sit in small hard wooden chairs -- two characteristics that should help make for an interesting show when Queens of the Stone Age play there on Sept. 28. (If you think that's weird, try seeing the all-grown-up Hanson there the day before.)
While you're experimenting with different venues, keep an eye out for two newer experimental music events as well: "In-Tent" is the improvised-music series held monthly at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside (www.pittsburgharts.org); Radical Riffs is a similar contemporary-music series held at the Wood Street Galleries, Downtown (www.woodstreetgalleries.org). Other small art galleries continue their regular performance schedules: Garfield Artworks, for example, will host a kaleidoscopic array of under-the-radar music, including the fire-and-brimstone of Old Time Relijun on Oct. 10.
Of course, you could always skip the foreplay entirely and see Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello at Petersen Events Center, on Oct. 11, and Bruce Springsteen with the E Street Band at Mellon Arena, on Nov 14. Those who still enjoy a good argument about what "alternative" really means will no doubt welcome the return of the Smashing Pumpkins, performing with The Bravery at the A.J. Palumbo Center Oct. 9; those who favor nitpicking about who started alt-country won't want to miss Wilco on Oct. 19, also at the Palumbo.
On a slightly more indie tip, other sure things coming through town include the lonely strains of The Mountain Goats at the Rex Theatre (Sept. 27) and the layered atmospheres of Minus the Bear at Diesel (Sept. 29). If you're up for shaking what you got, VHS or Beta -- one of the only dance-rock bands to play music that's actually sexy -- plays Carnegie Mellon on Oct. 7; the funkidextrous New Orleans group Galactic hits Mr. Small's Theatre on Nov. 10 for a party night that includes emcees Mr. Lif and The Coup's Boots Riley. Also at Mr. Small's, you can bust out your white belt and leggings and twitch to Broken Social Scene on Nov. 8, and Peter Bjorn and John on Dec. 3.
As we near the end of the fall season, just in time for the holidays, nothing says "peace on earth" to the 'DVE crowd like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, playing Nov. 18 at Mellon Arena. And for the real grinches, nothing says "Merry fucking Christmas, you bastards" like Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Zombie, rocking the Arena on Dec. 20.