August 2022 Concert Guide: Billy Joel, Metallica, Jason Aldean, Michael Franti, Twenty One Pilots, Wiz, and Charli XCX

Michael Franti spreading love and positive energy one tune at a time.

Michael Franti in 2016 at the Three Rivers Arts Festival, spreading love and positive energy one tune at a time. (Photo: Rick Handler)

This time of year in the Pittsburgh region the corn, tomatoes, strawberries, and peaches are at peak ripeness and flavor. The ‘Burgh’s concert crop is also coming in very strong this month. There are several very big acts and a few mega act bundles. PPG Paints Arena is hosting Machine Gun Kelly at the beginning of August and Twenty One Pilots at the end. And they have finally found a productive use for PNC Park—as a concert venue! Performing there this month are Billy Joel; Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe. Poison, and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts; and Metallica, Greta Van Fleet, and Ice Nine Kills.

The other big outdoor concert venue in town—The Pavilion at Star Lake, will also be keeping busy with many big shows including Santana, Alice in Chains, Breaking Benjamin, and Bush; Jason Aldean and Pittsburgh’s own Gabby Barrett; and Pittsburgh native Wiz Khalifa and Logic. You want some soul bands? Collective Soul and Soul Asylum will both be here. In the world beat/rock/reggae genre we have Michael Franti and Spearhead and Arrested Development in a free concert at Hartwood Acres. Rock, Reggae and Relief returns with headliners UB40, The Original Wailers featuring Al Anderson, The Movement, and Maxi Priest.

Other highlights this month are rising star Charli XCX; and Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers with The Forty Nineteens.

This guide features (in chronological order) spotlighted picks, other shows of interest, and big shows on the horizon. Get out and see what pleases you, whether it’s one of our concerts or something entirely different.

Entertainment Central Spotlight Picks

Tuesday, August 2

Machine Gun Kelly (MGK, née Richard Colson Baker) will play PPG Paints Arena. MGK is a rapper, musician, and actor from Cleveland who has touched multiple facets of pop culture. With Camila Cabello, he recorded “Bad Things,” which samples Fastball’s “Out of My Head,” in 2016. He was to open for Linkin Park on the band’s One More Light Tour, but the tour was canceled following the 2017 death of singer Chester Bennington. His acting credits include his portrayal of drummer Tommy Lee in The Dirt, a Netflix biopic of Mötley Crüe. 2020’s Tickets to My Downfall is his fifth album. It contains a more pop-punk sound, with Travis Barker, blink-182’s drummer, producing. Born with Horns followed in 2021 and in March, Kelly released his latest album, Mainstream Sellout. Kelly is engaged to actress Megan Fox. Travis Barker and Willow open. 7 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (C.M., R.H.)

Thursday, August 4

It was August 16, 1969 in upstate New York that a young musician, tripping on LSD, with his band, played one of the most important concerts of his life. The young guitar phenom was Carlos Santana. He and his group Santana performed an amazing concert at Woodstock. He came by musical talent quite naturally, his father was a San Francisco area violinist who performed with symphonies and mariachi bands. Early records such as Santana, Abraxas, and Santana III achieved lofty chart success. Santana would also hit the chart heights later in his career too with 1999’s Supernatural with a song he performed with Rob Thomas, “Smooth.” In 2002, he scored another big hit on a song he did with Michelle Branch, “The Game of Love.” Santana’s latest album is 2021’s Blessings and Miracles. Carlos Santana is also an accomplished artist. A double blessing indeed. 8 p.m. The Pavilion at Star Lake, 665 Rt. 18 Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Friday, August 5

Charli XCX is an English singer and songwriter who comes from Cambridge and Start Hill, Essex. She posted her songs on Myspace in 2008 which led to a promoter asking her to perform at an event. She signed with Asylum Records and released a series of mixtapes. Her first big taste of solo success was in 2014 when her song “Boom Clap” was included on the soundtrack of the film The Fault in Our Stars and became her first solo top-ten single on the Billboard Hot 100. She has five albums out with the latest being Crash, released in March. You can catch her this month at Stage AE. Special guest is ELIO. Doors open at 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (R.H.)

Sunday, August 7

Collective Souls name comes from a phrase in Ayn Rand’s breakout 1943 novel, The Fountainhead. Randites looking for lyrics dealing with objectivism and ethical egoism will be disappointed. The similarities to the Russian-born American novelist stop at the band name. But rockers looking for some power chords, plus a hook or two, can check out the quintet at their show at Stage AE. Collective Soul was born in Stockbridge, Georgia. The MTV smash “Shine” propelled both the band and their 1993 debut album, Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid, to major success on both the alternative and mainstream charts. They have fared well over the past two decades. In 2001, Dolly Parton covered “Shine” and won a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. When “Tremble for My Beloved” appeared on the Twilight soundtrack, the group began to count Millennials and not just Gen-Xers as fans. They’re touring in advance of their tenth album, Vibrating, to be released August 12. Switchfoot, an alternative rock quintet from San Diego, California, digs deep when writing songs. Listen to the cathartic opening track on 2019’s Native Tongue, “Let It Happen.” Hello Hurricane, the group’s seventh LP, won a Grammy for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album in 2011. The group’s latest release is last year’s Interrobang. Jade Jackson opens. Doors open at 6 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (C.M., R.H.)

Wednesday, August 10

Alice In Chains, the multi-platinum selling, alternative rock band started in Seattle in 1987 and had early success with the songs “Man in the Box” and “Rooster.”  In 2009 Alice In chains achieved more chart topping success with the No. 1 hits “Check My Brain” and “Your Decision.” The groups sound is hard, melodic rock with powerful vocals. Their latest release is 2018’s Ranier Fog. Breaking Benjamin originated across the state in Wilkes-Barre in 1999. The Benjamin in question is singer and guitarist Benjamin Burnley. He is the sole remaining founding member of the band and also an avid gamer. No surprise then that he and the band wrote the song “Blow Me Away” specifically for the Halo 2 soundtrack in 2004. 2002’s Saturate was the group’s first studio album. 2009’s Dear Agony was its last before going on hiatus until 2014. Its latest is 2018’s Ember. Bush hails from London, England, and it achieved multi-platinum success in 1994 with its debut album, Sixteen Stone. It contained the hits “Comedown” and “Glycerine.” Bush’s song “Bullet Holes” was featured in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. 5:30 p.m. The Pavilion at Star Lake. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Thursday, August 11

Many “Uptown Girls” (and Downtown ones, too) are heading to see the “Piano Man” in concert. They may check out the “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” and have a bottle of red or a bottle of white, but they won’t try to be a “Big Shot,” because Billy Joel likes you “Just the Way You Are.” Joel, the third-highest selling solo artist of all time in the U.S., was nominated for 23 Grammy Awards and won six. He also is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Joel has not written any new pop/rock material since ’93s River of Dreams album, and that’s OK, but wouldn’t it be great to see what new gems could come from this wellspring of musical talent? Tickets to hear Joel have been selling fast, so don’t be “The Stranger,” find a way to get to the show. 8 p.m. PNC Park, 115 Federal St., North Side. (R.H.)

Friday, August 12

A top-selling, classic rock band, Def Leppard is one of only five bands that have had two original studio albums with sales of over 10 million each. The others sharing this distinction are The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, and Pink Floyd. Top songs like “Photograph” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me” are some of the reasons for Def Leppard’s massive success. Leppard is touring behind their latest album Diamond Star Halos, which dropped in March. The album takes its name from a lyric in the 1971 T. Rex song “Get It On.” It reached no. 1 on the Billboard Rock and Metal chart.

Mötley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and “Home Sweet Home are some of the top hits generated by the group. The Crüe, one of the best-selling bands of all-time, was formed in Los Angles in 1981 by Tommy Lee (drummer) and Nikki Sixx (bass). The band also includes Mick Mars (lead guitar) and Vince Neil (lead vocals). Mötley Crüe is known for living the rock ‘n roll lifestyle to the extreme. Tommy Lee was married to Pamela Anderson of “Baywatch” TV fame for a few years, even starring in a short film with her. A few years back it looked like the band was in its final phase, but they have been reinvigorated and have even signed up for a European tour next year.

Poison hails from not too far away, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, just west of Harrisburg. Their lead singer Bret Michaels was born in Butler and is an avid Steelers fan. His family moved to Mechanicsburg and he grew up there. The glam metal band achieved huge success between 1985 and 1996, generating hits like “Nothin’ but a Good Time,” “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” and “Something to Believe In.” Michaels also has a successful solo career.

Joan Jett, is a talented rocker who also co-founded The Runaways. You can draw a line from Runaways songs, such as “Cherry Bomb,” to riot grrrl acts, like Bikini Kill. After The Runaways dissolved in 1979, Jett went solo. She and her band, the Blackhearts, are best known for their 1982 number one hit, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” “Bad Reputation” was another great track. Outside of rock ‘n’ roll, she co-starred alongside Michael J. Fox in 1987’s Light of Day, and she played Columbia in the 2000 Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show. Jett and the Blackhearts in March released an acoustic album, Changeup, their first ever acoustic album. 4:30 p.m. PNC Park, 115 Federal St., North Side. (C.M., R.H.)

Sunday, August 14

Metallica has experienced ups and downs for over 35 years, a fact which makes how the band members are still  together and touring all the sweeter. Shortly before the band recorded its debut album, 1983’s Kill ’Em All, the other members fired Dave Mustaine, Metallica’s original lead guitarist, for his excessive substance abuse. (Mustaine later formed Megadeth.) The group’s third album, 1986’s Master of Puppets, was its first to go gold, but before it was certified as such, bassist Cliff Burton died in Sweden after a tour bus accident and rollover during which he was pinned under the bus. Metallica soldiered on with bassist Jason Newsted and somehow achieved even greater success with 1991’s multi-platinum The Black Album. By 2000, though, Metallica alienated some fans when it sued Napster for file-sharing. Then, four years later, the members were in therapy, as documented in the film Some Kind of Monster. All their trials and tribulations are (mostly) behind them, Their latest album is 2016’s Hardwired… to Self-Destruct. (C.M.)

Greta Van Fleet  is a melodic, hard rocking band that is very reminiscent of Led Zeppelin. Lead singer Josh Kiszka’s wailing vocals sound evocative of Led Zeppelin’s lead singer, Robert Plant, who reportedly likes the group. Some people have called out the Frankenmuth, Michigan band for those similarities. Whether they have or haven’t flown too closely to previous stars’ works, Greta Van Fleet has created music that people wanted to hear and did it well. Greta Van Fleet is composed of the brothers Kiszka—Josh, Sam (bass guitar/keyboards), and Jake (lead guitar)—and Danny Wagner (drums). The group’s name is from the name of a hometown resident, Gretna Van Fleet, who gave them her OK. They are a relatively young band, just formed in 2012, but have enjoyed great success. From the Fires, their EP which was released in November 2017, hit no. 1 on the Billboard U.S. hard rock chart and No. 4 on the U.S. rock chart. Their latest LP is Battle at Garden’s Gate which was released in 2021 and reached no. 1 on both Billboard’s Top Rock Albums  and Top Hard Rock Albums charts. Special guest is Ice Nine Kills6 p.m. PNC Park, 115 Federal St., North Side. (R.H.)

Friday, August 19

Soul Asylum is an innovative alternative rock group that formed in Minneapolis in 1983 and has recorded many memorable songs including “Somebody to Shove,” “Runaway Train” and “Black Gold.” The band’s most recent album is Change of Fortune, released in March. Soul Asylum is coming to town to play Allegheny County’s Summer Concert Series at South Park Amphitheater. 7:30 p.m. Free. 3700 Farmshow Drive, South Park Twp. (R.H.)

Saturday, August 20

“Hey mon, come on down to Forbes Avenue near Market Square this month cause we be jammin’ for Rock Reggae and Relief 2022 with a stellar lineup of UB40,  The Original Wailers featurin Al Anderson, The Movement, Maxi Priest, Big Mountain, The Elovators, Kbong and Johnny Cosmic. Roots of Creation plays the afterparty. Proceeds benefit Café Momentum, ”Opening its Pittsburgh location in August 2022 on Forbes Avenue at the festival site, Café Momentum’s mission is to transform young lives by equipping our community’s most at-risk youth with life skills, education and employment opportunities to help them achieve their full potential. Café Momentum strives to teach our country’s youth that it is possible to break the cycle of incarceration and violence that many of our youth have faced.” Big fun and for a good cause! Hosted by the Piatt Family Foundation. (R.H.)

Sunday, August 21

All you “Rebel Rockers” out there, make sure to catch Michael Franti & Spearhead at Hartwood acres as part of the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series. Franti and band concoct a frothy musical mix using the ingredients of hip-hop, rock, funk, jazz, reggae, and folk to create a tasty smoothie for the ears. Franti and Spearhead have 11 studio albums to their credit including All Rebel Rockers and The Sound of Sunshine, both of which occupied high chart positions on the Billboard 200—nos. 39 and 17 respectively. In addition to being a very talented songwriter and musician, Franti is a dedicated humanitarian and environmentalist. He has toured the Middle East as an advocate for peace, is a strong supporter of South Africa’s Ubuntu Education Fund, and played three separate events to commemorate President Obama’s inauguration. He has said, “I make music for one reason … I care about people and I care about the planet.” He believes that music can help us all rise up and make a better world. Franti released his SoulRocker album in June of 2016 on the same day that he played the opening concert for the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Subsequent album releases are Stay Human, Vol. II (2019) and Work Hard & Be Nice (2020). Franti is touring in support of his LP Follow Your Heart, released in June with the spin off hit single “Good Day for a Good Day.”

Also on the bill is Arrested Development, who recently played the Juneteenth celebration earlier this summer at the point. The group formed in Atlanta in 1988 and is a more progressive, positive hip hop group. Arrested development hit it big with their first album release in 1992, 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of… The album went to no. 3 on the the Billboard R&B chart and no. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart. That chart success was no surprise with such finely crafted songs like “Mr. Wendal” and “Tennessee.” Arrested development won two Grammy Awards in 1993. The group has released a total of 15 studio albums with 2021’s For the Fkn Love their most recent. 7:30 p.m. Free. 4070 Middle Road, Allison Park (R.H.)

Friday, August 26

Slip on your cowboy boots, button up your finest flannel, and head down to The Pavilion at Star Lake where Jason Aldean takes center stage. Aldean has accumulated many awards over his career, including Male Vocalist of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year at 2013’s Academy of Country Music Awards. He was born in Macon, Georgia and moved to Nashville at 21. His 2005 self-titled debut album cemented his success and “Why” became his first number-one single on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Aldean was performing in 2017 at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas when a gunman fired into the crowd. Fifty-eight people died; another 851 were injured. The following Saturday, Aldean opened “Saturday Night Live” with a rousing cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Petty had died the day following the shooting. His latest album, Macon, Georgia, is an unusual double album. The first half, Macon, was released last November and the second half, Georgia, this April. Both halves charted high, so Aldean’s creativity was rewarded. (C.M., R.H.)

There is some very good country music talent here in the ‘Burgh, but not many have made it as far in the industry as Gabby Barrett. She was born in Munhall and went to High School at Sierra Catholic in McKeesport. Barrett won the Kean Quest Talent Search here in Pittsburgh in 2014 and started singing in her church choir in Homestead. During the 2017 – 2018 season of the TV show “American Idol,” she made it all the way to the finals before being voted off. In 2019 Barrett married fellow “Idol” contestant Cade Foehner. After “Idol” she kept working on her craft and in 2020 released her debut album, Goldmine. It was well received, making it all the way to no. 4 on the Billboard Country charts. Barrett also has also had two no. 1 singles on the country charts. Special guest is John Morgan. 7:30 p.m. The Pavilion at Star Lake. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown.  (R.H.)

Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers are very popular in every part of this region. Today they  are venturing to Beaver County for a show at Beaver Station. Joe Grushecky’s latest album is 2018’s More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows. There is also currently a 25th Anniversary edition reissue of Grushecky and The Houserockers’ classic, American Babylon, which was produced by Bruce Springsteen. Also performing is the pride of Temecula, California (and Beaver County), The Forty Nineteens. The noted garage rock band has been heard on “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” and even counts among its fans, Drew Carey, host of the CBS game show “The Price is Right.” The band will also be performing at Stage AE Tailgate Bash right before the Lions vs. Steelers game on Sunday, August 26. 7:30 p.m. 250 East End Ave., Beaver. (R.H.)

Sunday, August 28

Wiz Khalifa’s songs have been nominated for 10 Grammys, including the hometown fave “Black and Yellow.” The music video for “See You Again” (featuring Charlie Puth), from the Furious 7 soundtrack, was briefly the most viewed video on YouTube when it surpassed “Gangnam Style” by K-pop singer Psy in July 2017. “See You Again” pays tribute to one of the film’s stars, Paul Walker, who died in a car accident before the movie was completed. Khalifa and his backing band, Kush and Orange Juice, headlined Thrival Music Festival at Carrie Furnace in 2017. The band is part of the larger Taylor Gang, Khalifa’s Pittsburgh-based record label. The name harks back to Taylor Allderdice High School, his alma mater, and his admiration of Chuck Taylor shoes. Khalifa competed in season five (2021) of “The Masked Singer” as “Chameleon” and finished in third place. Khalifa’s latest studio album is Multiverse which dropped on July 29. 

Logic headlined the first day of the Thrival Music Festival back in 2017. It was a great year for the rapper, who had his first No. 1 album with Everybody, his third album. He also had a hit single in “1-800-273-8255,” which features Alessia Cara and Khalid. The title is the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The lifeline reported an increase in calls following the song’s release. “1-800-273-8255” also received a Song of the Year nomination at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in 2017. During the ceremony, Logic, Cara, and Khalid performed it as a tribute to Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, who both had committed suicide that year. In June, Logic released Vinyl Days, his seventh studio album in June. He is also working on another tentatively titled College Park. Additionally, in 2019 he published a novel, Supermarket, which also has an accompanying soundtrack. 6:30 p.m. The Pavilion at Star Lake, 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (C.M., R.H.)

Wiz Khalifia rapping with a smile on his face as his band Kush and Orange Juice performing in the background.

Wiz Khalifia rapping with a smile on his face as his band Kush and Orange Juice performing in the background at the 2017 Thrival Music Festival. (Photo: Rick Handler)

Wednesday, August 31

Can’t decide if you like rock or rap more? You won’t need to pick when you see Twenty One Pilots at PPG Paints Arena. The Columbus natives work in an indie sub-genre commonly referred to as alternative hip-hop. A little funkier than Aerosmith’s mashup with Run-D.M.C. in “Walk This Way,” the duo combines various tempos and rhythms that will have you dancing and headbanging simultaneously. As demonstrated in “Holding on to You,” the verses are rap-based with a seamless flow into a chorus and raw beat reminiscent of early Linkin Park. The end result: rock and rap had a love child and named it Twenty One Pilots. The duo reached number one on the Billboard 200 with 2015’s Blurryface. Success continued with “Heathens,” which appeared on the Suicide Squad soundtrack in 2016. In 2018 they released their fifth studio album, Trench. Twenty One Pilots’ latest LP is last year’s, Scaled and Icy. Special guest is Peter McPoland. 8 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (C.M., R. H.)

Other Shows of Interest

Saturday, August 6
Kid Rock & Foreigner (Star Lake)

Sunday, August 7
The Devil Wears Prada (Mr. Smalls)
Pete Hewlett (Pittsburgh Winery)

Tuesday, August 9
Ted Nugent (Palace Theatre)

Wednesday, August 10
The Fabulous Thunderbirds (Jergel’s)

Thursday, August 11
Abbott’s Crossing (Cultural Trust’s Backyard)

Friday, August 12
ALLISSA (Funhouse @ Mr. Smalls)
Carolina Loyola-Garcia (Flamenco) (Cultural Trust’s Backyard)

Monday, August 15
Dispatch, O.A.R., and G. Love (Stage AE)
Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening (Palace Theatre)

Tuesday, August 16
Lynn Speakman Sextet (Cultural Trust’s Backyard)

Saturday, August 20
Bill Toms and Hard Rain (Pugliano’s)
Crack the Sky (Jergel’s)
Nied’s Hotel Band (Rivers Casino)

Monday, August 22
Anthrax and Black Label Society (Stage AE)

Friday, August 26
Frank Cunimondo (The Oaks)

Saturday, August 27
Frankie Avalon and Fabian (Rivers Casino)

Big Shows on the Horizon

September 1
Michael Buble (PPG Paints Arena)

September 6
Crowded House (Carnegie Library Music Hall)

September 7
Judy Collins (Byham Theater)

September 9
Shinedown (Star Lake)

September 10
Ringo Starr (PPG Paints Arena)
Styx and REO Speedwagon (Star Lake)

September 16
Elton John (PNC Park)

September 19
The National (Heinz Hall)

September 21
Marcus King Band (Stage AE)

September 22
Goo Goo Dolls (Stage AE)

September 23
The Avett Brothers (Stage AE)

September 28
Post Malone (PPG Paints Arena)
Little Feat (CHMH)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.