Hazelwood's Almono Site

Thrival Innovation + Music Festival is back for a third year, with a new location to go along with an expanded musical lineup.

After two years at East Liberty’s Bakery Square, Thrival Festival relocates to Hazelwood’s Almono development site, a 178-acre remediated brownfield and former site of the LTV Coke Works.

Over a dozen national acts, plus a sprinkling of local bands, will perform over two days, September 25 – 26, 2015. Pop-punk mainstays Panic! at the Disco headline night one, while post-hardcore Atlanta indie rock band Manchester Orchestra close out night two.

Joining them is Washington, D.C. rapper Wale and a pair of Wu-Tang alums, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah. Emerging electro-pop bands make up the bulk of the roster, including Canadian singer-songwriter LIGHTS and San Francisco electro-soul duo Cathedrals.

Thrival 2015 Music Line-Up
Full Thrival Lineup

The event, presented by UPMC Enterprises, bills itself as a “Pittsburgh-based initiative uniting entrepreneurs, impact-makers, innovators, creatives and business leaders for a week of interactive programming, immersive innovation-focused events and an outdoor live music event.”

In the days leading up to the music, Thrival plans to present “over two dozen original innovation-focused events, presented by top-level thought leaders and organizations.” These innovation events, which will take place in seven different neighborhoods across the city, will fall into one of five tracks: connectors, leaders, makers, pioneers and thinkers.

In addition to the five tracks, each day of the festival will have a different theme, ranging from global leadership, to new media, to health and wellness.

Thrival is an initiative of Thrill Mill, Inc. — a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that serves as an incubator and accelerator for early stage entrepreneurs. All proceeds from the festival go to support Thrill Mill.

Here is a sampling of some of this year’s performers:

Raekwon and Ghostface Killah:

By the time Thrival comes around these two prominent members of the Wu-Tang Clan will have already spent the summer touring together, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Rae’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx album, arguably the best solo album by any of the Wu-Tang crew. (The tour skips Pittsburgh.) Both rappers have new albums in 2015, so expect to hear both new and classic material.

San Fermin:

Hailing from Brooklyn, this eight-piece ensemble’s music is labeled “baroque pop” for its varied instrumentation and elaborate compositions. The band has played Pittsburgh in each of the past two years, first at Brillobox and then again at the Warhol to headline a Sound Series event. They are touring in support of their new album, Jackrabbit.

Grand Piano:

Ask almost anyone in the Pittsburgh music scene which band they think is the next to break out and it’s likely that Grand Piano will be one of the first names you’ll hear. Combining rock and roll with plenty of horns and some get-up-and-go, Grand Piano put on a frenetic live show that’s one of the best in town. Their wacky new Sea EP might remind listeners of Philadelphia’s Man Man.


Wale last performed in Pittsburgh in 2013 with a show at Pitt, but his ties to Pittsburgh go much deeper than that—the D.C. rapper played football at Robert Morris before transferring to Virginia State. In 2008 Wale crossed over into the mainstream with his Seinfeld-inspired Mixtape About Nothing. Wale has since signed to Rick Ross’s Maybach Music group. He released a new album in March, another Seinfeld-inspired release, The Album About Nothing, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts.

Strand of Oaks:

Singer-songwriter Timothy Showalter toured relentlessly last year in support of his album HEAL, a critics’ favorite and his first major label release. The album saw Showalter filling out his folk-rock sound with some electric guitar muscle. And if there’s universal truth in this world, it’s that electric guitar makes everything sound better.


San Francisco’s Cathedrals aren’t reinventing the wheel on their debut, self-titled EP, but their smooth, sleek and soulful electro-pop is already earning comparisons to fellow boy-girl duos Beach House and The XX.

Two-day passes to Thrival are available online via Showclix for $35. Limited pre-sale passes are available for $25.

Brian Conway

Brian Conway is a writer and photographer whose articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune and local publications. In his free time, he operates Tripsburgh. Brian lives in the South Side.