Lynyrd Skynyrd Flies Into PNC Park; Black Keys Jam at CONSOL (CPs Sat., 9/13/14)
1) Last weekend, they played in Chicago. This weekend, the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park; tonight is game two. Arrive at Federal Street early for a Buccos block party, and plan to stay after the game’s conclusion for a concert by southern rock legend Lynyrd Skynyrd. Famous for “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird”—among many other hits—Lynyrd Skynyrd is one of those classic classic rock bands, which have attained such positions in the American canon that when we say the band needs no introduction, we mean it truly. Formed over 40 years ago in Jacksonville, the band has tragically suffered extensive casualties since its founding. Among those are Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines, who were taken before their time by a plane crash in 1977. Still, in spite of losses and long hiatuses over the years, the group continues to rock arenas, amphitheaters, and ballparks nationwide. Skynyrd original Gary Rossington leads a “new” Skynyrd, which includes Ronnie Van Zant’s younger brother Johnny. Again, these Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers need no introduction, but the numbers speak for themselves: over 60 albums and over 30 million worldwide sales. Skynyrd fans oughtn’t to miss this particular Bucs game. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. 115 Federal St., North Shore.
2) Among contemporary rock acts, blues rockers The Black Keys are ubiquitous, and tonight they perform at CONSOL Energy Center. Between their work on soundtracks, their commercial work, and radio play bordering on excessive, one had to have been living in solitude for the past five years to avoid the Black Keys’ music. What’s truly impressive is that despite their rich, deep, bluesy sound, the Black Keys are just a two-man outfit, consisting of Dan Auerbach on guitar and vocals and Patrick Carney on drums. And though they’ve only been nominated for three years—2011, 2012, and 2013—they have won seven Grammy Awards to date. The current tour celebrates the band’s new release, Turn Blue, which was announced and released over the course of mere months earlier this year. Besides their success in the Black Keys, Auerbach and Carney have embarked on solo ventures. Auerbach released a full-length solo album, while Carney hosts a satellite radio show and recently composed the kickin’ theme song for the Netflix original series, “Bojack Horseman,” the extended cut of which was recently released. Joined by Cage the Elephant. 8 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Hill District.
3) Capping off a week of talks on leadership, innovation, and technology, the musical leg of the Thrival Festival kicks off today in the new Bakery Square II. Today’s headliner is Alaskan psychedelic indie rock quartet Portugal. The Man, who are joined by, among others, Minnesotan pop punk veterans Motion City Soundtrack and Brooklyn-born hip-hop virtuoso Talib Kweli, known for his work opposite Mos Def in their rap group Black Star. Across the street, inside Google’s headquarters at the already established Bakery Square I, “The Pitch” takes place, a presumably “Shark Tank”-esque competition in which small businesses and entrepreneurs from our home city vie for $25,000 before a panel of expert judges. Though the name of the game at the Thrival Festival is capitalist enterprise, Portugal. The Man’s epic, haunting message in songs like “Sleep Forever” stands as a stark contrast. (“I just want to sleep forever/Never see tomorrow/Or lead or follow/I don’t want to work forever/Know what I know/Or beg or borrow”). Then again, given that the festival is powered by local startup/innovation incubator Thrill Mill, perhaps that counter-cultural undertone is just what they’re aiming for. Continues through tomorrow. For a full schedule of events, visit Thrival’s website. Bakery Square, East Liberty.
4) Legendary rock promoter Pat DiCesare, who brought the Beatles to Pittsburgh for a concert at the Civic Arena on September 14, 1964, seeks to recreate a taste of that magic fifty years later with The American Tour ’64. This exciting event features one of the nation’s top Beatles tribute acts, Beatlemania Now. The production takes the audience on an amazing multimedia, musical journey from early mop tops and suits to long hair and hippie clothes. The songs in Beatlemania Now also advance, from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves you” to the later consciousness raisers of “Come Together” and “Let it Be.”
Also on the bill are tribute acts of the musicians who influenced the Beatles including Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Fats Domino. Watch out for the screaming girls. 8 p.m. Benedum Center, 237 7th Ave., Cultural District.
5) Bell X1 has come across the Atlantic from Dublin, Ireland, to tour in the States; tonight, the band stops in Pittsburgh for a set at Mr. Smalls Theatre. With a layered, mature, somewhat sedated, and often sad sound, Bell X1’s music invites comparisons to Brit soft alt rockers Coldplay, and could provide a great soundtrack for the downtrodden and brokenhearted among us. It’s never fair, however, to lump any band entirely with another, especially one that is (for better or for worse) as often-maligned as Coldplay. Bell X1 stands on its own as a solid indie rock act. The members were formerly associated with the band Juniper, which also featured singer-songwriter Damien Rice, until four of Juniper’s five split off after disagreements with Rice. Since then, the band has also parted ways with Brian Cosby, and today consists of Paul Noonan, David Geraghty, and Dominic Philips. Also on the bill at Mr. Smalls tonight is Gabriel Kahane. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.