Gavin Degraw Follows the Bucs; Panthers Kick Off College Football Season (CPs Sat., 8/30/14)

1) The Pittsburgh Pirates host their downriver rivals, the Cincinnati Reds, in game two of a three-game home stand. Plan to arrive at Federal Street around 2:30 for another block party, featuring an appearance by former Bucs pitching ace Bob Friend. Then carve out some time in your Saturday evening itinerary to remain after the game’s (hopefully) victorious conclusion—soulful pop-rock singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw comes all the way back east from Vancouver for a post-game performance at PNC Park. Originally hailing from the Catskill Mountains, DeGraw has jetted to superstardom in the decade since his 2003 debut album, Chariot. His initial claim to fame was that his song “I Don’t Want to Be” served as the theme music for CW’s soapy teen drama “One Tree Hill.” Since then, however, his renown has been based on much more than that song. DeGraw’s range is quite impressive, at times making him sound uncannily like Maroon 5 front man and celebrity personality Adam Levine, and at others dropping down to a register not dissimilar from that of Soundgarden’s raspy vocalist, Chris Cornell. Block party begins at 2:30 p.m.; first pitch is at 4:05 p.m. 115 Federal St., North Shore.

2) It’s that time of year again. The air carries a slight hint of autumnal fragrance, the wind conveys an ever-so-subtle chill—and college football begins anew. Our hometown University of Pittsburgh Panthers kick off their 2014 season by hosting the University of Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens at Heinz Field. This will be the game that student season-ticket holders, from freshman to super senior, actually roll out of bed for, perhaps hung over and yet perhaps still dewy-eyed. For this particular Pitt alumnus, it’s hard to write this Cool Pick without a pang of nostalgia mixed with optimism. Maybe this will be the season. Anyway, gauged on title alone, it’s hardly conceivable that a Blue Hen, “fightin’” or not, stands a ghost of a chance against a Panther. Kickoff is at 12 p.m. 100 Art Rooney Ave., North Shore.

3) Indie pop-rockers Bleachers touch down at Mr. Smalls Funhouse on their debut national tour. Led by fun.’s Jack Antonoff, the band’s debut single, “I Wanna Get Better” is an uplifting, upbeat, self-improvement anthem, as the name implies. The song has been making its rounds on both XM satellite and FM radio across the nation, and if it’s any indication of their future work, we should expect big things from Antonoff and Bleachers. And Antonoff has worked hard for that success. As the sole auteur behind Bleachers, he secretly composed the debut album’s music while on tour with his other band, fun. (best known for “We Are Young,” the Grammy winner which Antonoff co-wrote). His work writing Bleachers’ music was an experience that Antonoff calls a “psychotic alter-ego situation,” wherein he had “this second part of [him] that no one knew about.” Surely it wasn’t easy to work on both projects at once, but now that his Bleachers project is out in the open, Antonoff is focusing almost entirely on it … as far as we know, anyway. Joined by special guests Young Rising Sons and TeamMate. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.

4) Club Cafe opens for its early show, An Evening with Lisa Ferraro and Erika Luckett. A Pittsburgh native working out of San Francisco, Ferraro is a purveyor of jazz vocals whom Pittsburgh Jazz Society president Tony Mowod calls “extraordinary,” “a soulful original,” and “one of the most distinctive voices heard today.” Born in Pittsburgh, Ferraro moved to the Bay Area in 2009, where she linked up with Erika Luckett and began to develop a loyal following. Luckett comes from quite different roots. She was born in Mexico and spent much of her childhood in Venezuela and Brazil, soaking up the cultural and musical flair of those regions. For fans of jazz, this duo—this musical fusion of belts both rusty and equatorial—is sure to please. 7 p.m. 56 S. 12th St., South Side.

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Dan Hoyt

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