Pitch-burgh: A guide to Pittsburgh’s summer and fall concerts

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Pitch-burgh: A guide to Pittsburgh’s summer and fall concerts

By Marcus Ranii-Dropcho / Staff Writer

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With its storied jazz history, bringing up the likes ofdrummer Art Blakey and saxophonist Ahmad Jamal, Pittsburgh has always been connected to music.

Its strategic location between Chicago and New York attracts various genres of concerts, from jazz to indie rock. While it may not be privileged and rural enough to hold massive music festivals like Coachella or Bonnaroo, the city does get its fair share of quality music acts at venues like Stage AE, Mr. Smalls and the Altar Bar throughout the year.

Before we get to our list of fall shows in the Steel City, here are some of this summer’s acts that are worth remembering.

The Antlers – May 11 at Mr. Smalls Funhouse

Pittsburgh marked another stop on the victory lap tour following indie pop outfit The Antlers’ successful 2014 album, “Familiars.”Although the production on “Familiars” is a departure from their simple, forlorn lo-fi recordings found on 2009’s “Hospice,”the band paid homage to their older fans and kept the rotation between the classics and new material even.

One particularly emotional moment came during an extended rendition of “Atrophy” from “Hospice.”Lead singer and guitarist Peter Silberman stretched the seven-minute song into a 10-minute epic that brought some patrons to tears. Should The Antlers continue their steady rise in popularity, you may have missed your last chance to see the band perform in a small intimate venue.

My Morning Jacket – June 4 at Stage AE

The members of My Morning Jacket are Pittsburgh veterans. The band has played Pittsburgh three times in the last five years, twice at Stage AE, whose outdoor portion opened in 2010. My Morning Jacket made no exception this summer, stopping in Pittsburgh to play a two-hour set promoting their newest album, “The Waterfall.”

My Morning Jacket begs to be seen live. Long jam sessions accompany their famous songs, and you are missing out on the authentic version of “Off the Record” until you actually hear it, off the (vinyl) record. If you haven’t gotten a chance to hear lead singer Jim James’s angelic voice, make sure not to miss My Morning Jacket next time they cruise through town.

Jenny Lewis – June 9 at Three Rivers Arts Festival

Free concerts make the sweltering summer heat somewhat bearable. Alternative country act Jenny Lewis provided a nice respite from the heat wave. Her style was a perfect fit for the festival, bringing the cutely-quaint appeal of Regina Spektor and mixing it with a voice tinged with Cat Power’s smoky quality and the sweetness of Alison Krauss.

Upcoming Shows

With the summer season of shows quickly fading with the heat, many of 2015’s fall acts will match the milder temperatures with smooth and downtempo vibes.  Here are just a few of the featured acts coming to the ‘Burgh while school is in session.

Death Cab for Cutie – Sept. 17 at Stage AE

If your middle school years weren’t spent listening to indie anthems like “Soul Meets Body” or “Marching Bands of Manhattan,” you missed out on a very important piece of indie rock history. For many preteens, 2005’s “Plans” marked a seminal moment in transitioning their musical taste from Kelly Clarkson to something a bit more eccentric. Their September show is a chance to get re-acquainted or introduced to the band and their recent synth-heavy material on “Kintsugi,” their newest record.

 Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Sept. 23 at Carnegie Music Hall

If there’s anything that Godspeed has perfected in their musical repertoire, it’s how to build walls of sound around the listener. Their live performance should be more of the same. The focus is not on the eight instrumentalists, who are often shrouded in darkness, but the images of death, destruction and social injustice playing out on a projection screen behind them.For anyone looking for an existential crisis or a reason to fear humanity, you should check out Godspeed in September.

Purity Ring – Sept. 24 at Stage AE

Purity Ring’s music and live performance has evolved since 2012’s breakout album, Shrines. Four years ago, the band was an experimental electronic opening act for Neon Indian, performing their way into the hearts of chillwave fanatics. Now, Purity Ring heads up their own 50-show world tour for their second studio album, “Another Eternity.”

Purity Ring’s live show mixes a contemporary art exhibit with a musical style they call “future pop.”  While this genre tag can seem a bit pretentious and vague, their pulsating lights and colorful performance are something to behold.

Sufjan Stevens – Nov. 3 at Heinz Hall

Sufjan Stevens rarely visits Western Pennsylvania, but when he does, he prefers to bypass the regular venues and go straight for the nicest concert hall in the city: Heinz Hall. This tour promises to be one of Stevens’ most emotionally resonant, as his newest album, “Carrie and Lowell,” was inspiredby the passing of Stevens’ mother in 2012. Mixing those songs with his already beloved catalogue will deliver a show Pittsburghers won’t see again for years.

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