1) How did a band like Sigur Rós became popular enough to fill a decent-sized venue like Stage AE? The Icelandic group is talented no doubt, but in past decades, an act so avant-garde—one that plays soaring, feedback-drenched post-rock songs with impassioned “lyrics” in a made-up language—would be banished to whatever tiny club would have them. Yet, in the span of 19 years and seven albums, Sigur Rós has developed an army of loyal fans singing along to their nonsense syllables and hanging on to each part of their frenetic compositions, and they’ve won over the critics, too. Maybe their widespread appeal can be attributed to the fact that Sigur Rós delivers the one thing few musicians deliver anymore: music that is not a revival of or tribute to a past style—but something entirely new and raw. Opening artists are Julianna Barwick and Mister Lies. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. 400 N. Shore Dr., North Shore.
2) As part of her act, comedian Loni Love, who visits The Improv this week, gives dating advice. (With a name like that, how could she not?) In her recently released book she wrote with Jeannine Amber, Love Him or Leave Him, but Don’t Get Stuck With the Tab, Love takes inquiries and shoots from the hip. For example, “Getting an ‘F’ in Fun” asked how she could get out of her tiring routine as a teacher and date again. Love answered with a rambling, depressing story about the time she found herself almost buying a sex toy from a telemarketer. “[W]hen I got off the phone, I realized it was time to make some changes. I needed to make time for a social life and to meet a man with a real penis,” she writes. It’s that kind of blunt, working-class grit acquired through years of working as an engineer that Love discusses topics ranging from fat pride to Barack Obama’s lack of dance skills. Through Saturday. 8 p.m. 166 E. Bridge St., Homestead.
3) Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion are well-pedigreed Americana artists; Guthrie is the daughter of Arlo Guthrie, which makes her the granddaughter of the venerable Woody Guthrie, and Irion is the grandnephew of the writer John Steinbeck. This alone would get the married folk-rock duo a few spins on WYEP, but what’s made them favorites of the festival circuit and music critics are their low, gentle harmonies and intuitive understanding of how songs work. Touring behind their fourth and latest album, Wassaic Way (produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy), they are showing those skills off at Club Café tonight. Opening are British folk rock group The Melodic and locals Derek Woodz & Sara Rising. 7:30 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side.
4) T’ai chi hasn’t gotten its due in the West. The ancient Chinese practice doesn’t seem to have yoga’s gentle appeal nor karate and judo’s flash. Yet its delicate movements have been proven to increase circulation, flex the joints, align the spine, focus the mind, and totally make you look more sage-like. Through late October, Patty Swartz, a 25-year t’ai chi practitioner and a professional teacher of the art, is holding Thursday classes at Phipps Garden Center Patio in Mellon Park. Wear comfortable flats, bring a bottle of water, and prepare to stand like a mountain and flow like a river. 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. 1059 Shady Ave., Shadyside.
5) Here’s a reason to play hooky from work! Continuing a season that has excited fans more than any other in decades, the Pirates are playing the San Diego Padres at PNC Park in an afternoon game. But don’t get caught on the Jumbotron, in case your coworkers are screening the game back at the office. 12:35 p.m. 115 Federal St., North Shore.