February 2023 Concert Guide: Carrie Underwood, Yo-Yo Ma, Lake Street Dive, Lotus, Badflower and American Authors

Carrie Underwood at the 2019 American Music Awards. (Photo: Cosmopolitan UK)

Carrie Underwood at the 2019 American Music Awards. (Photo: Cosmopolitan UK)

Pittsburgh is not an entertainment capital like New York and Los Angeles, but it’s good that we have some high quality concerts in the middle of winter here to choose from. First, and foremost this month is one of the leading country music performers, Carrie Underwood, who will be performing at PPG Paints Arena. Another real crowd pleaser with their smooth sound this month is Lake Street Dive. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been on a super hot streak recently, as far as collaborations go, this month they team up with legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

American Authors, Silversun Pickups, and Lotus bring a newer rock sound to their concerts. Gaelic Storm gives us an early St. Patrick’s Day prep. Don’t feel much like celebrating, the weather getting you down? Then Badflower helps amplify a negative vibe to cathartic effect. We also celebrate an over-the-fence neighbor to the south, as Morgantown native Charles Wesley Godwin plays Stage AE.

This guide features (in chronological order) Spotlight Picks, Other Shows of Interest, and Big Shows on the Horizon. Get out and see what pleases you, whether it’s one of our concert picks or something entirely different.

Spotlight Picks

Wednesday, February 1

Lake Street Dive members met while students at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music. They named their band after a dive-bar-rich street in Minneapolis, former bandmate Mike Olson’s hometown. Their sound has touches of pop, Americana, jazz, and soul. For proof of their cross-genre appeal, check out 2016’s Side Pony, their fifth LP. It debuted at the top of three Billboard album charts—Rock, Folk, and Alternative. “Call Off Your Dogs,” a song from that album, moves in many musical directions and features a music video filmed at the famed Electric Lady Studios in New York City. Another top hit for Lake Street Dive is Bad Self Portraits from their 2014 album of the same name. Keyboardist Akie Bermiss joined the band in 2017. Lead singer Rachel Price has a lovely soul, pop voice which is one of the reasons for Lake Street Dive’s success, as well as helping her forge a successful solo career. The band played the inaugural Maple House Festival at Hartwood Acres last May. The group’s latest LP is Obviously, released in 2021. You can see them at Stage AE. Doors open at 7 p.m. Special guest is Monica Martin. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (C.M., R.H.)

Saturday, February 4

Country-folk musician Charles Wesley Godwin was born and raised in Morgantown, West Virginia, and attended West Virginia University where he studied finance. While in college he started playing the guitar. He has cited his main musical influences as being “Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, John Prine, Chris Knight, and Ryan Bingham.” His first album was 2019’s Seneca, on which he sang about what he knew—the beauty of West Virginia and its people. Godwin even has a lively version of John Denver’s “Country Roads.” His latest release is the 2021 LP, How the Mighty Fall. Godwin has toured with Zach Bryan, even collaborating with him on Bryan’s song, “Jamie.” I-79 should be busy in both directions heading to Godwin’s concert at Stage AE. Special guests are Cole Chaney and Ferdinand The Bull. Doors open at 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (R.H.)

Wednesday, February 15

Last month the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra joined with legendary pop/rock performer Sting for a program of his music. This month the PSO teams up with another legend, a classical music legend, Yo-Yo Ma. The renowned cellist was born and partially raised in Paris and then moved to New York City. He was a child prodigy and began performing at only four and a half years-old. Ma graduated from the Juilliard School and Harvard University. He has performed as a soloist with many of the top orchestras around the world, has recorded over 90 albums and won 19 Grammy Awards. Ma enjoys learning about and performing various pieces of world music including American bluegrass music. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is also a Grammy Award-winning musical powerhouse that has performed around the world. The musical program will be conducted by PSO’s Music Director Manfred Honeck. 7:30 p.m. Sold out. Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Ave., Cultural District. (R.H.)

Friday, February 17

It’s getting to be that time of year again and Gaelic Storm will soon blow into Jergel’s Rhythm Grille. The group became one of the world’s most popular Irish bands overnight when they were featured in the blockbuster of all blockbusters, Titanic. The group was seen entertaining the third-class passengers in the ship’s steerage section. Since then, they have maintained their place as one of the leading ambassadors of all things Irish, recording every famous Celtic song there is and writing a few of their own. The band, however, strangely has had difficulty keeping a fiddler for more than a few years, that position apparently being to them what the drummer is to Spinal Tap (minus the spontaneous combustion, of course). Natalya Kay is the latest in that spot. Their most recent album is 2017’s Go Climb a Tree. 8 p.m. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (R.H.)

Tuesday, February 21

Even if you’ve never heard of the New York City rock band American Authors you’ve probably heard the hook from their single “Best Day of My Life,” whether in a commercial or from an open car window. All members are professionally trained; they met at the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston. More hit singles have followed, all from their 2014 debut album, Oh, What a Life. They also recorded a cover of the rock band Big Country’s “In a Big Country” for Record Store Day, with Southern California’s The Mowgli’s sharing the B-side of Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True.” American Authors are touring in advance of their forthcoming album. Best Night of My Life, to be released February 10. Two singles from the album have already dropped, one is titled the same as the album and the other is “Blind for Love.” Ontario, Canada, pop-rocker Billy Raffoul is opening for American Authors. The award-winning musician generates an emotional connection with his audience that has garnered positive press from music mags and achieved hundreds of millions of streams. He has a new EP out and a trending song, “We Could Get High.”  7 p.m. Thunderbird Cafe and Music Hall, 4053 Butler St., Lawrenceville. (R.H.)

Thursday, February 23

Silversun Pickups formed in Los Angeles, California, in 2000 right around when their alternative-rock forebears the Smashing Pumpkins were breaking up. They released their debut album, Carnavas, in 2006. Songs such as “Lazy Eye,” with its driving guitars, heady vocals, and screaming, picked up the alt-rock relay that the Pumpkins’ frontman Billy Corgan had been carrying. Silversun Pickups later received a Best New Artist nomination at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards. Their music has been featured in popular video games series, such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band. The quartet’s 2019 album Widow’s Weeds was produced by Garbage drummer Butch Vig, arguably best known for producing Nirvana’s sophomore breakthrough album Nevermind. The group’s latest album release, also produced by Vig, is last year’s Physical Thrills. Silversun Pickups will perform at the Roxian Theatre. 8 p.m. 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. (C.M., R.H.)

Saturday, February 25

Winner of the fourth season of “American Idol” in 2005, Carrie Underwood has been on an upward trajectory ever since. Underwood, an Oklahoma native, already has been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and has won eight Grammy Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, and 16 Academy of Country Music Awards. Best known for her pop country ballads and light rockers like “Before He Cheats,” she will be performing here as part of her The Denim & Rhinestones tour. It’s also the name of her latest LP. Carrie has described this album as a fun, sing into your hair brush in your room kind of an album. Denim & Rhinestones debuted at no. 2 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and no. 10 on the Billboard 200 chart. Underwood is married to Mike Fisher, a former NHL hockey player for the Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators. Special guest is Jimmie Allen. 7:30 p.m. PPG Paints Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown.

Lotus has a history of playing shows on or around New Year’s Eve in Pittsburgh. For example, the jam band performed at Stage AE on December 27, 2019. We all know how 2020 went, so no Lotus show that year. They were supposed to play concerts on December 30, 2021 and December 31, 2021 at Mr. Smalls,, but with Covid still very present in the nation they rescheduled the date for that March. The band, originally from Indiana, is known for incorporating electronic elements into its music. On 2016’s Eat the Light, the group tried something new: vocals, with a different guest musician on every track. Concerts include elaborate lighting and occasionally themed shows. One 2009 concert saw David Bowie costumes. The band members play covers as well as originals during themed shows. 2022’s Bloom & Recede is Lotus’s latest album. It’s not New Years Eve, but you can see them at Stage AE. Doors open at  7 p.m. 400 North Shore Ave., North Shore. (C.M., R.H.)

Dark and self-loathing are two terms that could be used to describe the music of Badflower. But the group’s songs are also insightful and twinged with occasional humor. Lead singer Josh Katz delivers the song lyrics authentically because he has lived many of the experiences that he is singing about. Badflower started in Los Angeles in 2013 and released two EPs: About a Girl and Temper before releasing their first studio LP OK, I’m Sick in 2019. The post-grunge, alt-rock band’s latest LP is 2021’s This is How the World Ends. Badflower will be performing at the Roxian Theatre as part of their Asking for a Friend tour. Special guests are Des Rocs and Blood Red Shoes. 7:30 p.m. 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. (R.H.)

Other Shows of Interest

February 4
Barbara Blue (Moondog’s Pub)

February 7
Mandy Pantinkin (The Strand Theatre)
James Johnson III (Liberty Magic)

February 11
Peabo Bryson (August Wilson African American Cultural Center)
The Little Wretches &  Devilish Mary (Moondog’s Pub)

February 18
Justin Fabus (Rivers Casino)

February 16
Ignite (New Hazlett Theater) 

Feb 17 to Feb 19
Blue Man Group (Benedum Center)

February 18
Bill Toms and Hard Rain (Moondog’s Pub)

February 21
American Authors (Thunderbird Cafe & Music Hall) 

February 24 & 25
The Clarks (The Oaks Theater)

February 25
Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors  (Rivers Casino)

February 28
Roger Humphries (Liberty Magic)

Big Shows on the Horizon

March 1
Joe Bonamassa (Benedum Center)

March 3
Jerry Harrison & Adrian Belew  (Roxian Theatre)

March 10
GZA (Mr. Smalls Theater)

March 10 & 11
K.C. and The Sunshine Band (Rivers Casino)

March 11
Donnie Iris  (UPMC Events Center)

March 12
The Oak Ridge Boys (Palace Theater)

March 13
Crash Test Dummies  (Palace Theater)

March 18
John Mayer (PPG Paints Arena)
Kelsea Ballerini (Stage AE)

March 19
Killers  (Petersen Events Center)

March 22
Tedeschi Trucks Band  (UPMC Events Center)
Rubblebucket  (Mr. Smalls Theater)

March 24
Blake Shelton (PPG Paints Arena)

March 26
Manhattan Transfer (Palace Theatre)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.

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