Music » Critics' Picks

Critics' Picks: March 5 - 11

Pusha T, Empires and Mike Gordon come to town, plus ex-Pittsburgher Marcus Harris releases an album, and deaf rapper Sean Forbes appears Downtown



When Marcus Harris lived in Pittsburgh a few years ago, he played a few crucial roles — he was in charge of hip hop at WPTS (Pitt's college station) and was part of the group The BnVz. He's in New York City now and is best known as MH the Verb, but he still thinks of Pittsburgh — and Oakland's Peter's Pub — as a home base. Tonight, he has a release party there for his new album, The Balloon Guide, which features ex-Pittsburgher Jack Wilson, among others. Andy Mulkerin 8 p.m. 116 Oakland Ave., Oakland. $5. 412-681-7465 or

Pusha T


Though rumors of a Clipse reunion turned out to be greatly exaggerated, the news isn't all bad. Thursday, Pusha T — one half of that on-hiatus hip-hop duo — will stop by Altar Bar, fresh on the heels of his excellent, almost-minimalist 2013 release, My Name Is My Name. On that record, Pusha delivers sneering, sharp-tongued philosophy on the things he knows best —  ladies, luxury goods and movin' bricks (not that he needs to do that anymore), and — except for his trademark "Yugh!" — always keeps his cool. With Fly Union. Margaret Welsh 7:30 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $28-30. All ages. 412-206-9719 or


Empires has a sound that makes you feel like you're back in the '90s. — but not in a bad way. The band's new single, "How Good Does It Feel," for example, sounds like it could've been on the soundtrack for 10 Things I Hate About You. The Chicago-based band has plans to release its third studio album, Orphan, later this year. Until then, check the group out at The Smiling Moose along with locals Instead of Sleeping. Kayla Copes 6:30 p.m. 1306 E. Carson St. South Side. $10. All ages. 412-431-4668 or

Mike Gordon


You can't really put a label on jam-scene elder statesman Mike Gordon's sound: There's some rock, pop, country and a little bit of reggae heard in his music. "Sometimes I just need to be alone," he sings in his new single, "Ether" — and it's fitting, because it sees the guy who's best known for playing bass with Phish heading up a solo project of his own. Check him out tonight at Stage AE. KC 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Drive, North Side. $25. All ages. 412-229-5483 or


While there's a good precedent for blind musicians, it's rare to come upon a deaf rapper. Sean Forbes is breaking the mold: The hip-hop artist and motivational performer lost his hearing at an early age but still chose to pursue music. In addition to founding an organization that translates pop music into ASL and produces videos of the songs, he himself raps about life with a disability with a sense of humor and a positive message. This week he's in town to do several matinee programs for school students, plus tonight's public performance at the Trust Arts Education Center. AM 7 p.m. 805 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $20. All ages. 412-456-6666 or

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