May Concert Guide ’18: David Byrne, Odesza, Lake Street Dive, Blackberry Smoke, and Alvvays

Alvvays performing at the Sasquatch! Music Festival in 2015 in George, Washington. Photo: David Lee and Wikipedia.

Alvvays performing at the Sasquatch! Music Festival in 2015 in George, Washington. Photo: David Lee and Wikipedia.

This month’s Entertainment Central Concert Guide is truly a variety pack. In the mood for some music legends? Then David Byrne, The Wailers, Michael McDonald, and Yanni could be just the ticket. Looking for hot music from newer acts? How about Odesza, Alvvays, Lake Shore Drive, and Bahamas? For a little pre-summer twang, we’re proposing LeAnn Rimes and Blackberry Smoke. On our Hometown Heroes front, veteran guitarslinger Reb Beach is in town for a show at Jergel’s, and the Move Makers will get the dance shoes going at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino. Whether you find appealing concerts in our guide or have some better ideas of your own, get out and have some fun!

Entertainment Central Spotlighted Concerts

Tuesday, May 1

Alvvays won over the crowd’s hearts and feet at the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival in 2015. They return to Pittsburgh, this time at Mr. Smalls Theatre. The Toronto quintet now have more than their 2014 nine-track, eponymous debut under their belt. Even better, the new songs are filled with as much indie-pop jingle jangle as earlier hits, such as “Adult Diversion” and “Archie, Marry Me.” The combination of past standouts and fresh tracks should make for a solid set list. One new song is “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)” from their sophomore album, 2017’s Antisocialites. The song pairs frontwoman Molly Rankin’s sugary vocals with guitars that alternate between surf- and noise-rock. The Jim in question is Jim Reid, frontman of The Jesus and Mary Chain, a Scottish band whose fuzzy guitar sound rightly deserves an ode from not only Alvvays but also many other an underground band. Frankie Rose opens. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)  ECS (Entertainment Central Spotlight)

Thursday, May 3

Names are an interesting part of the music scene and the electronic music duo Odesza and its members are great examples. Odesza is taken from the name of a sunken boat owned by founding member Harrison Mills’ uncle. Mills’ music moniker is Catacombkid, after the song “Catacomb Kids” by Aesop Rock. Bandmate Clayton Knight says his name, BeachesBeaches, came to him one night while he was high and making music alone in his bedroom. And opposites sometimes do attract as they met as students at Western Washington University, Mills studying graphic design, and Knight, physics and math. Their mutual love of music drew them together and soon after forming, they released their debut LP, Summer’s Gone, in September 2012. They quickly achieved 1 million plays on Soundcloud. Followup albums did well too and they were soon playing music festivals including their home state’s Sasquatch! Music Festival and other big name gatherings including Coachella and SXSW. They have garnered several Grammy Award nominations including for their 2017 release, A Moment Apart for Best Dance/Electronic Album, with “Line of Sight” (f/t WYNNE and Mansionair) also nominated for Best Dance Recording at this year’s Grammy Awards. They have many fans here, for their show at Stage AE is sold out. Special guests are Kimbra and pluko. Doors open at 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (RH)

Saturday, May 5

Three years ago, Bahamas opened for City and Colour, the performance moniker of Canadian singer-songwriter Dallas Green, at Stage AE. Like City and Colour, Bahamas is the project of a single person—Afie Jurvanen—who is also Canadian. As if to clear any ambiguity, Jurvanen titled his third album Bahamas Is Afie. Like previous Bahamas releases, the album features a laid-back folk sound, epitomized in arguably his biggest song, “All the Time.” The music is reminiscent of sandy beaches and tropical breezes, a far cry from Jurvanen’s hometown of Barrie in rural Ontario, Canada. Prior to Bahamas, Jurvanen worked as a touring guitarist for Feist. As Bahamas, he has also opened for Wilco and played SXSW. He headlines Mr. Smalls Theatre. His latest album is 2018’s Earthtones. “No Wrong” was the album’s first single. Soul Brother Stef opens. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Sunday, May 6

Art from adversity. Capitol Records dropped Jimmy Eat World in 1999, but the band soldiered on, self-financing their fourth record, 2001’s Bleed American (later changed to Jimmy Eat World after the 9/11 attacks). “The Middle,” the second single from the album, reflects perseverance, culminating with the last lines of its catchy chorus: “Everything will be all right.” Things weren’t all right in the country at the time of the single’s release, but the song provided some solace. As for Jimmy Eat World, they enjoyed their highest charting single yet; it became a top five hit on the Billboard Top 40, and it continues to have a long shelf-life. (“Oh, my god, I love this song,” Taylor Swift says in a 2016 Apple Music ad before lip-syncing to the lyrics.) The band followed Bleed American with 2004’s Futures and another hit, “Pain.” Jimmy Eat World formed in Mesa, Arizona, in 1993. 2016’s Integrity Blues is their latest album. Their show at Mr. Smalls Theatre is sold out. The Hotelier and Microwave open. 7:30 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

Fact: LeAnn Rimes is younger than several NFL quarterbacks. It only seems as if the country-and-crossover star has been around forever, in part because she started so young. Her hit debut album, Blue, was released in 1996, when Rimes was only 13. Since then she’s won multiple country music awards, acted in movies and TV, authored a few books … but let’s talk about her voice. Even ‘way back when, the title track from Blue revealed a rich, well-rounded, classic country vocal style.  She’s also done quite well in other genres, with songs like Bette Midler’s signature ballad “The Rose.” Rimes has weathered some hard times personally, and in turn has been an active philanthropist, supporting causes from disabled veterans to HIV prevention and care. Rimes is currently embarked on her Love Is Love Tour. Catch her at Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. 8 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. (MV)

Tuesday, May 8

Ever since the 1980s, when he was in his early 30s, Michael McDonald has had the stern visage and silvery-grey mane of hair that make him look like the professor you don’t mess with. He has long employed a serious tenor-baritone voice to lecture audiences on the fallacies of “What a Fool Believes,” his big 1979 hit as featured vocalist of The Doobie Brothers. Prior to his tenured position with The Doobies, McDonald performed doctorate research as a backup vocalist with Steely Dan. And since leaving The Doobies he has had a distinguished career of more than three decades as an independent scholar, singing solo as well as collaborating with many renowned colleagues. Professor McDonald’s recent publications include Wide Open, a 2017 release which features reflective essays on addiction and sobriety, set to music of course. Dr. McDonald will present a review of his most significant work in an open-to-the-public session at Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. 7:30 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. (MV)

Saturday, May 12

Add some sweet twang to your music this month with Blackberry Smoke at Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. The country band formed in 2000 and gained popularity as a supporting act for Zac Brown Band’s 2011 tour. They’ve also opened for the legendary  Lynyrd Skynyrd, and for Eric Church and ZZ Top.Their rich harmonies and quality guitar and drum play give them good crossover appeal. The group’s 2016 album Like an Arrow reached no. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Country and Americana/Folk charts, while also reaching no. 3 on the U.S. Rock chart. Blackberry Smoke’s latest album, Find a Light, was released in April. This fall they are scheduled to perform at Louisville, Kentucky’s Bourbon and Beyond music festival. Special guests Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown will warm up the crowd. 8 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall.(RH)

Is Millvale really the new Lawrenceville? Find out at the annual Millvale Music Festival, which showcases this rebounding municipality across the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh. Over 100 area musical acts will play 22 venues during the day-long event. Some venues are all ages, some are 21+, The Millvale Music Fest is an interesting array of many different types of music. Tupelo (Tupelo Donovan is the son of Jim Donovan, original drummer for Rusted Root and frontman of the Sun King Warriors) is playing Tazzo D’Oro (3 p.m.), and his dad, Jim, and Sun King Warriors play Mr. Smalls Theatre later (11 p.m.). There are several other top acts at Mr. Smalls including Drowning Clowns,which includes Mr. Small’s owners Liz Berlin, a bandmate of Jim Donovan in the original Rusted Root lineup and she remains a member today, and husband Mike Speranzo (7 p.m.), and Chet Vincent (6 p.m.). Highlights at other Festival venues include performances by: Nameless in August, LoFi Delphi, Garter Shake, The Me Toos, The Delaneys, Gene the Werewolf, The Flow BandHeather Kropf, and Vit DeBacco. Part of the fun of a festival like this is strolling around and checking out a lot of bands you haven’t heard of before, possibly finding several new favorites. For a complete list of stages and performers see the Millvale Music Festival website. 11 a.m. -1:30 a.m. (certain venues). There is also the Sedgwick Street Arts Festival occurring in Millvale today.(CM, RH)

Gene The Werewolf

Gene The Werewolf

Sunday, May 13

No surprise David Byrne’s concert at the Benedum Center is already sold out. Byrne was the frontman for Talking Heads, a band which was part of the ’70s New York City punk scene but evolved into something so much more. Early singles, such as “Psycho Killer,” looked beyond New York (the song’s bridge is in French). 1980’s Remain in Light incorporates afrofunk. And “(Nothing But) Flowers,” one of the group’s last singles, contains a Caribbean flair. You can hear such worldliness in Byrne’s work outside of Talking Heads, including My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, his collaboration with producer Brian Eno. The album samples Arabic singers and employs African rhythms. Byrne won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his work on the score of 1987’s The Last Emperor. His latest solo album is 2018’s American Utopia. The concert will incorporate solo work and Talking Heads favorites, but don’t expect his big suit, his outfit from the 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense. 8 p.m. 237 7th St., Cultural District. (CM)

David Byrne playing at "Austin City Limits" in 2008. Photo: Ron Baker.

David Byrne playing at “Austin City Limits” in 2008. Photo: Ron Baker.

When Lake Street Dive were in town in 2016, they played the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival … the evening the Penguins won the Stanley Cup Finals. If you missed them then or when they played Mr. Smalls in 2017, hopefully you already bought tickets because their next show at Mr. Smalls Theatre is sold out. The members, who met while students at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music, named their band after a dive-bar-rich street in Minneapolis, trumpeter/guitarist Mike Olson’s hometown. The group’s sound has touches of pop, Americana, jazz, and soul. For proof of their cross-genre appeal, check out 2016’s Side Pony, their fifth studio album. 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. Free Yourself Up, their sixth album, is out May 4. Mikaela Davis opens. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.  (RH, CM)

Tuesday, May 15

Chris Smither creates very beautiful acoustic guitar music, and when that’s mixed with his husky blues voice and heartfelt lyrics, the combination is almost transformational on songs like “Link of Chain,” “Killing the Blues,” and “Leave the Light On.” One key to the artistry: Smither has been doing this for a long time. Ever since growing up all over the place (a fitting background for a folk/blues man), he’s been playing all around the world and has cut 17 albums. His 2014 release Still on the Levee was a double-CD, 50-year retrospective. Smither’s show at Club Cafe is a chance to hear new songs from an old master: He is touring in support of his latest release, this year’s Call Me Lucky. With special guest Zak Trojano. 8 p.m. 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. (RH/MV)

Wednesday, May 16

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust presents Yiannis Chryssomallis, better known as Yanni, at Benedum Center. This legendary composer and pianist truly defies classification; his largely instrumental compositions borrow from cultures all over the world. He and his sizable orchestra employ a mind-blowing variety of both traditional and exotic instruments and borrow from an impressive assortment of musical modes and genres, from jazz to classical to soft rock, as well as a commendable collection of traditional ethnic music. The venues that Yanni has chosen during his more-than-30-year career are equally varied, ranging from the Taj Mahal to the Kremlin to the Forbidden City in China. Yanni has left as much of an impression with his career in general as he has with his music itself, given that, globally, he has accrued dozens of gold and platinum albums and has performed his high-energy live shows for millions of people in many countries. His current tour marks the 25th anniversary of his Live at the Acropolis Concert. The video of this show is the second best selling music video ever. 8 p.m. 237 7th St.., Cultural District. (RH)

Renowned reggae royalty The Wailers come to Crafthouse Stage and Grill this month. The legendary backing band for Bob Marley, The Wailers have stayed true to their Jamaican musical roots and are led by longtime member Aston “Family Man” Barrett. After Marley’s death in 1981, The Wailers continued to tour and release music, sometimes with other artists and sometimes just as a group. They play an average of 200 shows per year and are no strangers to Pittsburgh. Marley’s last concert was played at the Stanley Theater (now The Benedum), and since then, The Wailers have played shows in the area at numerous venues over the years. They continue to perform classic cuts, such as “No Woman, No Cry” and “Buffalo Soldier.” Barrett started the Wailers Reunited project in 2015 to bring together the remaining members of the lineup that played with Marley. Let the positive vibrations lighten your mood and move your feet. 7:30 p.m. 5024 Curry Rd., Baldwin. (RH, CM)

Friday, May 18

Attention ladies: Rick Springfield, former soap opera hunk (“General Hospital”) is playing The Palace Theatre. Springfield’s breakout hit was “Jessie’s Girl” in 1981 and other top songs include “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and “I Get Excited.” The Australia native, who once dated actress Linda Blair, has sold 25 million albums and scored 17 U.S. Top 40 hits. His latest album is The Snake King, released in January. Springfield has many male fans too. 8 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. (RH)

Tuesday, May 22

Wow. When Portugal. The Man headlined Mr. Smalls Theatre in March 2017, the band had released “Feel It Still” just three weeks earlier. By October of that same year, the single had reached no. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40. Until then, Portugal. The Man were hardly mainstream, even if they had one of the most impressive runs in modern music. Beginning in 2006 with their debut, Waiter: “You Vultures!”, they released a new album every year for five years while touring constantly. The group released Evil Friends, which was produced by Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells), in 2013. Their latest album is 2017’s Woodstock. Members have come and gone, but the core has always been singer/guitarist John Gourley and bassist Zach Carothers, friends since they met in Wasilla High School in Wasilla, Alaska. They headline Stage AE. Jack Harlow opens. Doors open 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

Rhiannon Giddens has the kind of voice that could have come from any time and any genre and still be a show stopper. At times on her debut solo album Tomorrow is My Turn, she sounds like a ‘60s R&B diva—such as on “She’s Got You”—while on other tracks her vocals wander confidently through folk, gospel, jazz, country, and blues. Better known as front woman of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an old-time fiddle-and-banjo folk band, she has worked with many other artists and released her debut solo album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, in 2015. Her latest, 2017’s Freedom Highway, was named Album of the Year at the International Folk Music Awards. (Check out the track “Julie,” above.) Hailed as one of today’s great interpreters of American music of many kinds, Giddens has won awards ranging from a MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship to—get ready for it—the 2016 Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. Rhiannon Giddens performs with her touring band at the Byham Theater, in a show presented by Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and WYEP. Jake Blount and Tatiana Hargreaves open. 7:30 p.m. 101 6th St., Cultural District. (CM, MV)

Wednesday, May 30

Their lyrics are heavy. Their raps, melodic. Perhaps this novel combination has kept Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, who return to Mr. Smalls Theatre, relevant for so long. Their single “Tha Crossroads” won the Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1997; Bone Thugs-n-Harmony dedicated it to the late Eazy-E of N.W.A. fame. Eazy-E signed the Cleveland group to his record label, Ruthless Records, in 1993, and he was the group’s friend, mentor, and business adviser until his death in 1995. Though crushed by his loss, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony persevered and have continued to make music together. They also hold the distinction of collaborating with 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Eazy-E, and Big Pun while all four men were still alive. Krayzie Bone and Bizzy Bone released New Waves under the Bone Thugs moniker in 2017. The other three members of the quintet contributed as did guest stars, such as Stephen Marley. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM) ECS

Thursday, May 31

The Decemberists’ fourth album, The Crane Wife, is nearly 12 years old, and in that time, it has permeated numerous facets of popular culture. “The Crane Wife 3,” a cut from the album, appeared on “Scrubs,” and the band performed it on the season six finale of “Parks and Recreation.” The Portland, Oregon, group amassed a gathering over the past decade with its indie, folk-rock sound, culminating in the number one album, 2011’s The King Is Dead. In that same year, the band collided auditory, literary, and televisual worlds with its music video for “Calamity Song.” The video, directed by “Parks and Recreation” co-creator Michael Schur, adapts a scene from David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest. 2018’s I’ll Be Your Girl is their latest album. Their concerts are known for audience participation, so be ready to contribute to their show at the Benedum Center. Eleanor Friedberger, of The Fiery Furnaces, opens. 8 p.m. 237 7th St., Cultural District. (CM)

Several Other Suggested Shows

Tuesday, May 1

Reb Beach, lead guitar player for rock bands Winger and Whitesnake, is back in his hometown of Pittsburgh tonight for a show at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille. This is the opening night for Jergel’s Tuesday Bike Nights. Also playing are Scott Bender of Baton Rouge, Jon Belan (Gene the Werewolf), and Dave Throckmorton. In addition to his supporting roles in rock groups, Beach has released two solo albums. 7:30 p.m. No cover. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale.(RH)

Saturday, May 19

Electronic music duo The Crystal Method rose out of Las Vegas in 1993. The group, started by Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, is known for its big beats. The Crystal Method has five studio albums out with the latest being 2014’s self-titled release and its music has been used in numerous films and TV shows. Jordan retired from music in 2017, but Kirkland is continuing to use the band name. 9 p.m. The Stage at Karma, 1713 E. Carson St., South Side. (RH)

Do you like a band that can deliver a wide range of cover tunes with tightness and great musicality? If so, we submit for your approval The Move Makers Band. Songs from Motown, Michael Jackson, and Rick James, as well as more recent songs like “Blurred Lines,” “Moves Like Jagger,” and “Get Lucky” are all part of their repertoire. They will get the women (and men) up and dancing. So make that move to Headliners at The Meadows. 8 p.m. No cover. 210 Racetrack Rd., Washington. (RH)

Sunday, May 20

For an up-and-coming folk rocker who’s been making a name for herself, Lissie brings the fire to Mr. Smalls Theatre to show us that blondes do it better. Making it to VH1’s “You Oughta Know” artist status several years back, Lissie has a haunting, Stevie Nicks-esque voice, as demonstrated in her twist of “Go Your Own Way.” She even does her own version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird.” Her guitar paired with her blonde locks emit the essence of an early Jewel with a contemporary edge and passion that you won’t want to miss. Special guest is Van William. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.(EC, RH)

Tuesday, May 22

Kiefer Sutherland began his career with such movies as 1986’s Stand by Me. He became synonymous with his character, Agent Jack Bauer, on the Fox drama “24,” and now he plays President Kirkman on ABC’s “Designated Survivor.” But Sutherland has other talents. He started Ironworks, an independent record label, in 2002, where he remained more a behind-the-scenes guy until he recorded an album of originals, 2016’s Down in a Hole. Fans of Sutherland or rock ‘n’ roll can see him at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille. 8 p.m. 285 Northgate Dr., Warrendale. (CM)

Thursday, May 31

No, Igor & Red Elvises are not an Elvis covers band. Yes, they are Russian—well, Russian-American. But no, they are not communists. In fact, frontman Igor Yuzov left the Soviet Union for America as an adult, and with his band, he plays original, Siberian surf rock. Their latest album is 2017’s She Works for KGB. They play the Hard Rock Cafe. Prime 8 and Chase and the Barons open. 8 p.m. 230 W. Station Square Dr., Station Square. (CM)

On the Radar

June 1
Justin Timberlake (PPG Paints Arena)
Code Orange (Mr. Smalls)

June 2
Kenny Chesney (Heinz Field)
XFEST w/Jack White, Cold War Kids, and more.(Key Bank Pavilion)
Journey & Def Leppard (PPG Paints Arena)

June 9
Hall & Oates (PPG Paints Arena)

June 15
Dierks Bentley (Key Bank Pavilion)

June 16
Kendrick Lamar (Key Bank Pavilion)

June 20
Steve Miller Band & Peter Frampton (Key Bank Pavilion)

June 23
Keith Urban (Key Bank Pavilion)

June 30
Luke Bryan (Heinz Field)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central. Christopher Maggio and Mike Vargo made substantial contributions to this guide.

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