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Critics' Picks, April 23-29

Concerts by Pile, Portland Cello Project, Speedy Ortiz and a benefit for the Afro American Music Institute

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[BENEFIT] + THU., APRIL 23

It's as much a conversation as a music event tonight at the Altar Bar. Pittsburgh Artists for Social Change will present A Unity Concert to Benefit the Afro American Music Institute, which will include a diverse lineup featuring gospel, faculty jazz instructors from the Afro American Music Institute, Afro-Cuban duets, Puerto Rican standards, DJ sets and a wide array of hip-hop performers. In addition to the music, Tim Stevens, of B-PEP, and Anupama Jain, of the Pittsburgh Coalition for Racial Equity in the Arts, are slated to speak. Shawn Cooke 6:30 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $10. 412-263-2877 or www.thealtarbar.com

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[ROCK] + SUN., APRIL 26

Much like in life, chaos can come out of nowhere in a Pile song. On the band's third LP, You're Better Than This, tracks like "Hot Breath" quickly swerve from Rick Maguire's quiet singing over soft guitar noodling to his ugly, yet impassioned shout-singing. This stuff is designed for legions of punks to thrash and head-nod to in basements — the hard part's just keeping track of when it's time to start moshing. Local mainstay Legs Like Tree Trunks, Nouns and Derider round out the bill tonight at The Mr. Roboto Project. SC 7 p.m. 5106 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $8. 412-345-1059 or www.therobotoproject.org

Portland Cello Project - PHOTO COURTESY OF TARINA WESTLUND
  • Photo courtesy of Tarina Westlund
  • Portland Cello Project

[INDIE ROCK] + SUN., APRIL 26

Have you ever wanted to hear an all-cello cover of "Shake It Off" by a group that affectionately goes by "PCP" for short? If so, then Portland Cello Project might be the hottest ticket in town. The classically trained ensemble covers a lot of musical territory — including Beethoven, Taylor Swift, Kanye and Pantera — in its performances. PCP sets can be two to three hours long, and the group usually performs a brand-new set of covers and originals at its shows. But tonight's show at Club CafĂ© will likely include some Elliot Smith tracks, since the cellists have been touring behind their recent studio album to e.s., which pays tribute to one of Portland's most important musicians. SC 8 p.m. 56 S. 12th St., South Side. $13. 412-431-4950 or clubcafelive.com

[ROCK] + TUE., APRIL 28

Sadie Dupuis occupies a relatively small space alongside Courtney Barnett and Parquet Courts' Andrew Savage: all three are razor-sharp indie-rock lyricists whose music sounds far more lackadaisical than the words flowing over it. Dupuis' band Speedy Ortiz made something of a breakthrough in 2013 with Major Arcana, a raw, poetic slice of noisy pop that wasn't shy about its nods to Pavement. Early singles off the Boston troupe's next record, Foil Deer, suggest further refinement of that formula. Will Hannibal Buress fill in on the drums at Cattivo tonight, as he did at SXSW? You'll have to wait and see. Fellow Boston indie-rockers Krill and Maryland's Two Inch Astronaut are set to open. SC 6:30 p.m. 146 44th St., Lawrenceville. $12. 412-687-2157 or www.cattivopgh.com

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