Skillet in Concert at Stage AE; Hiawatha Project Staging ‘JH: Mechanics of a Legend’ (Sun., 2/12/17)

1) Two years ago, Skillet headlined Winter Jam Tour Spectacular, the largest Christian music tour in the country. That tour included a stop at PPG Paints Arena (née Consol Energy Center). This year, the quartet returns to Pittsburgh for a headlining show at Stage AE. Panheads (their word for members of their fan club) as well as believers and nonbelievers alike are sure to pack the venue. Skillet have had huge crossover success: their ’09 single “Monster” became a radio and YouTube hit and went platinum. With over 2.6 million sales, it is Christian music’s biggest digital single ever. (They weren’t kidding when they titled it “Monster.”) Formed in 1996 in Memphis, the group is something of a family act: members include John and Korey Cooper, who are respectively husband and wife. The band tours constantly, and they released their tenth album, Unleashed, in 2016. Sick Puppies and Devour the Day open. Doors open 6:30 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

A scene from 'JH: Mechanics of a Legend.' photo: Renee Rosensteel and the The New Hazlett Theater's 2015 CSA Performance Series."

A scene from ‘JH: Mechanics of a Legend.’ photo: Renee Rosensteel and the The New Hazlett Theater’s 2015 CSA Performance Series.”

2) “Before I let your steam drill beat me down, I’m going to hammer myself to death, Lord, Lord, I’ll hammer my fool self to death,” Bruce Springsteen sings on his version of “John Henry.” The oft-covered ballad concerns the iconic African-American tall tale character, a real man who may have died just south of Pittsburgh in Talcott, West Virginia. Legend has it that he raced a steam-powered hammer to prove that he could drive more steel than a machine. He won—but died from the stress of the achievement, leaving his hammer to his lover, Polly Ann. His legend is rife with symbolism: of man versus mechanization and of civil rights. Who better to take on these themes than the Hiawatha Project, a Pittsburgh-based ensemble which explores social questions through movement. According to the event page, the performance will incorporate “the language of mechanics, century old ballads and primary historical records. 3 p.m. Performances through February 18. ” JH: Mechanics of a Legend is at the August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (CM)

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Rick Handler

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