October is a good month for concerts – it’s still warm enough for outdoor music and it’s traditionally a good month for bands going on tour.
Of course, this year is just weird. Some shows are booked and then canceled in quick succession due to Covid – three separate shows were postponed while I was writing this article – which is not surprising.
Still, with so much going on in October, we’re giving you the inside scoop on which shows you won’t want to miss – with a little more hope the month ends better than it started. Here’s a list of our favorite upcoming shows.
Please note that many (if not most) sites require proof of vaccination, negative Covid tests, and / or masks, so check with each club. (But really, do that stuff anyway). There are also likely to be other Covid-related cancellations, so double check before you go.
October 1 and 2, Highmark Blues & Heritage Festival with Mavis Staples, Morris Day & The Time, Robert Cray Band, Rare Essence, Third World, Robert Randolph and the Family Band. Highmark Stadium, south side
Presented by the African-American Cultural Center August Wilson, this two-day outdoor event Festival is one of the most musically diverse festivals to hit Pittsburgh in years. It has gospel royalty Mavis Staples of the Staple Singers, who gave the ’60s civil rights movement its liberation theology-inspired soundtrack. It’s got ’80s Prince buddies Morris Day & The Time, whose Minneapolis funk translates perfectly into a live setting. There’s bluesman Robert Cray, reggae giants Third World, funky go-go masters Rare Essence, sacred steel pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph and New Orleans swagger from Dumpstaphunk.
October 2, Punk in Drublic Craft Beer & Music Festival with NOFX, Get Dead, Pennywise, Less Than Jake, Sick of it All, Stolen Wheelchairs. Sandcastle Water Park, family owned
It’s like a high school mixtape comes to life, except now everyone is old enough to drink beer. It’s not the straight-edge variety of punk, obviously (this is also an Oktoberfest). But pretty much every other guy is here: Pennywise’s old-fashioned SoCal skate-punk, Less Than Jake’s 3rd wave ska-punk, Sick of It All’s anti-everything hardcore punk, heinous goofball. pop-punk from NOFX. The real mystery is why it’s at Sandcastle in October.
October 2, Benji, Kenny Stockard, Slim Tha DJ: SouthSide Works, South Side
Pittsburgh rapper Benji has seen his stock grow steadily over the past few years, touring with Earthgang and being considered one of NPR Music’s artists to watch. He has a album release party for his latest, titled “Smile, You’re Alive”, which sort of says it all. He’s now on Pittsburgh-based Misra Records which has national reach, so the rapper / singer / multi-instrumentalist has plenty of room to grow. The show is outdoors and free.
October 3, Madeon. AE scene, North Shore
French electronic DJ Made on made his breakthrough with a YouTube video, “Pop Culture,” which showed him mixing 39 different pop tracks into one, in real time. It was a hit, but a mind-blowing success, and he’s been building on that kind of natural talent for years, ending up being nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Electronic Album in 2021 for “Good Faith.” You’ve probably heard it if you play video games; it’s been featured on everything from “FIFA 13” to “Need for Speed: Most Wanted,” which is where real money for music is made these days.
October 4, Rolling Stones. Heinz Field: North Shore
Despite the recent death of drummer Charlie Watts – whose jazz and blues chops have given so much Rocks hits their inimitable rhythms – the band continues to play. He was an irreplaceable English eccentric who collected classic cars but never got a driver’s license, and once hit Mick Jagger for having the temerity to call him at 5 in the morning to ask him, “Where? is my drummer? Sure, you can make whatever jokes you like about the ridiculous age of the Stones, but it’s clear they haven’t become lazy, and Keith Richards, of course, will outlive us all.
October 8, Scott Bradlee’s postmodern jukebox. Homestead Carnegie Music Hall Library, Munhall
Cover bands tend to go from mundane to terrible, but the Postmodern jukebox has a thing (“Today’s Hits Yesterday”) that is so unusual – playing pop and rock hits in the style of big band jazz standards with total, unironic engagement – that it’s sort of full of surprises. For example, they did “Royals” by Lorde in the style of Frank Sinatra (sung by a giant clown) and “Sweet Child O’Mine” by Guns N ‘Roses in the style of a New Orleans Dixieland Stomp. . Hey, sometimes the music is just allowed to be fun.
October 9, Lil Baby, Lil Durk. Star Lake Pavilion, Burgettstown
If you want to be big in hip-hop right now, it helps to be Lil ‘. So weird that a dude in the hyper-macho world of rap is called little baby and it sticks, but whatever, it works for him. He also built his career the hard way – time in prison, doing underground mixtapes, gradually improving his technical rhyming skills. Now he’s getting guest rhymes on his Drake songs and headlining arenas like Star Lake. He’s only Lil in name now.
October 11, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Silvana Estrada. Carnegie Music Hall, Oakland
The incredibly talented acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo and Gabriela came through their frenzied old-fashioned musical prowess – playing heavy metal. Their metal band didn’t work, so they tried a few things and ended up playing in the streets of Dublin. Today, they headline giant music halls with acoustic guitars and an array of influences from Latin music to thrash metal. Don’t call it flamenco. Sure, they love the style, but tango master Astor Piazzolla and the late metal guitar god Dimebag Darrel from Pantera have a bigger place in their musical imaginations. Their latest EP, “Jazz” features performances by young jazz giants such as Kamasi Washington.
October 11, Lukas Nelson and the promise of reality. Roxian Theater, McKees Rocks
He has the genes – his father is Willie Nelson. He’s got the look – Bradley Cooper is said to have used him as the “authenticity consultant” for “A Star is Born”. He has the bandaged, who were good enough to support Neil Young for a while. He has famous friends – Lady Gaga, Sheryl Crow, Kesha – who showed up to boost his breakthrough record in 2017, “Turn Off the News (Build a Garden)”. And he has at least a fraction of his father’s talent, which is probably a lot more than needed.
October 13, Black Pumas. M. Small Theater, Millvale
Soul and rock diverged in the late 1960s, generally along racial lines, although Sly and the Family Stone and Parliament-Funkadelic paved the way for other possible futures. It wasn’t always like that, and it doesn’t have to be. Black pumas divide the difference with Eric Burton’s soulful yet laid-back vocals – honed in church, musical theater and on the streets – with return arrangements by Adrian Quesada, complemented by keyboards, horns and backing vocals. It’s not just retro-soul mimicry either, and the songs are all original.