Summer music festival season begins this weekend and there are so many great shows happening in Pittsburgh this year. Here are 13 you won’t want to miss. We’ll keep you posted as more are announced.
May 3: Move a Mountain Music Fest at Union Ballroom, Duquesne University, Uptown
The second annual Move a Mountain Music Fest has a pronounced Irish accent, featuring D.C.’s high-energy Celtic folk-rock band Scythian as the headliner. Pittsburgh’s own Corned Beef and Curry are in support, as are Mike and John Gallagher. Proceeds benefit Move a Mountain Missions, which makes mission trips possible for Pittsburgh youth and helps care for abandoned children with disabilities in Jamaica.
May 11: Pittonkatonk, Schenley Park, Oakland
There are several vast rivers of brass-dominated music that run parallel to, or just beneath, the mainstream of popular and folk music forms: the Balkan/Gypsy brass music of Old Country weddings, New Orleans second-line, jazz and funk, Afrobeat, swing jazz and the myriad uses for a marching band — from halftime shows to protest marches. Pittonkatonk is an attempt to pull it all together for two purposes — community-building through music and a really big party. This year we’ll see the return of brass punks What Cheer? Brigade, the virtuoso musicianship of Macedonia’s Džambo Aguševi Orchestra and Peruvian psychedelic cumbia legends Los Mirlos, among many others at this free, all-day festival.
May 11: Millvale Music Festival, Millvale (various locations)
This is a really big one that uses most of Millvale as a stage so you can check out a huge array of local acts without much effort. Now in its third year, Millvale will host more than 200 bands and performers across 25 venues, ranging from the party-heavy rock of Gene the Werewolf to the indie-pop eccentricity of Weird Paul Rock Band. For a change of pace, check out the Comedy Stage at Panza Gallery, featuring comedians Cassi Bruno and Joey Marchi, and the Spoken Word Stage at Tupelo Honey Teas. There’s also an artists’ market on Sedgwick Street and a new collaboration with Hemispheric Conversations Urban Art Project, who are making a mural in Millvale.
May 18: Lawrenceville Art Crawl, Lawrenceville (various locations)
Before Lawrenceville became a home for hipsters and robot cars, it had a good run as an artists’ colony. Presented by Redfishbowl, this festival aims to recapture that spirit with an art and music crawl featuring 35+ bands and performers at 25+ venues, including Roundabout Brewery, New Amsterdam, Hambone’s and The Abbey on Butler Street. Performers include Killer of Sheep, Merce Lemon, Elias Khouri, Soda Club, The Van Allen Belt, Wild Talk, Scratchy Blanket, Balloon Ride Fantasy and many more.
May 31 – Sept. 1: Allegheny County Parks Summer Concert Series
This free summer concert series is usually good for a few surprises and a lot of tried and true favorites — now with food trucks and beer from Hop Farm Brewing Company. The concerts in South Park kick off May 31 with funky electro-brass from locals Beauty Slap and Funky Fly Project. Other South Park highlights include Pittsburgh legends Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers on June 14 and classic rockers Foghat on Aug. 16. Highlights at Hartwood Acres include the “Pittsburgh’s Homegrown R&B” showcase with Mars Jackson, Benji, Clara Kent & Starship Mantis on June 30. And reggae from the legendary Marley clan features Stephen Marley on July 14. You can also catch the B.B. King Blues Band with Michael Lee on Aug. 11. A complete list of performances (including the 20th annual Allegheny County Music Festival on Sept. 1) is here.
June 3-8, PHILLTER International Music Festival. Various locations.
A super-eclectic live music & technology showcase, focusing on approximately 50 solo artists, ranging from locals like “One Man Soul Band” Clay to international beatbox champions NaPom & Villain, to ambient cello rock from Mexico’s Violoncheloops. Main events are at Mr. Small’s June 6 and Hard Rock Cafe June 7.
June 7-16: Dollar Bank Three River Arts Festival, Point State Park
Pittsburgh’s gigantic annual festival of music, art, deep-fried food (and sometimes rain) is back next month. Headliners range from the singular soul stylings of India.Arie on June 7 and the living country music history of Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives on June 8, to the fiery jazz-funk of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe on June 11 and the melodic indie-pop of festival favorites Lucius on June 13. Plus, of course, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Brass on June 10. Take a chance on something you’ve never heard before — like dual-vocals-driven New Orleans soul/funk outfit Tank & The Bangas on June 14. The price is right: It’s all free!