Concert Guide February 2024: Drake, Madonna, Aimee Mann, Band of Horses, Ghost Hounds, and Riley Green

Drake performing in 2016. (Photo: 'The Come Up Show' and Wikipedia)

Drake performing in 2016. (Photo: ‘The Come Up Show’ and Wikipedia)

After the usually slow concert month of January, February is looking very promising. First and foremost, music superstar Drake is here for not one night, but two. Another legendary performer, Madonna, is also on tap to perform at PPG Paints Arena. Between Drake and Madonna, many top hits will be heard at the arena this month. Former ‘Til Tuesday member, and highly successful solo artist, Aimee Mann, brings her hits to the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall.

Rising country singer Riley Green plays the Pete while Umphrey’s McGee and Greensky Bluegrass heat up February at Stage AE. Boyz II Men bring their soulful harmonies to Rivers Casino Event Center. Band of Horse will run wild at the Roxian Theater. Hometown heroes Ghost Hounds will be on the hunt there too. And as we move closer to the second merriest time of the year—St. Patrick’s Day, the Pittsburgh Irish Festival swings into action with BRIGID, a celebration of Irish music and dance.

This Guide features (in chronological order) Spotlight Picks, Other Shows of Interest, and Big Shows on the Horizon. Get out and see what pleases you, whether it’s one of our concert picks or something entirely different. Mike Vargo (M.V.) also contributed to this guide.

Spotlight Picks

Thursday, February 1 

Progressive rock jam band Umphrey’s McGee, from the Fighting Irish town of South Bend, Indiana, will be in concert at Stage AE. Influenced by the likes of the Grateful Dead, Yes, King Crimson, and Pink Floyd, the group’s unique sound can be heard in the songs “Wizard Burial Ground” and “Mulche’s Odyssey.” Umphrey’s McGee, who performed at the first Bonnaroo Music Festival, are known for their live shows: all solos and bright lights. The group formed while they were students at Notre Dame and named the band as modification of the name of a band member’s cousin, Humphrey McGee. Asking for a Friend, released in 2022, is the latest studio album by Umphrey’s McGee. Doors open 7:30 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (C.M., R.H.)

Saturday, February 3 

The Pittsburgh Irish Festival is a renowned festival held each September, but they are having, in partnership with Irish Partnership Pittsburgh, a big pre-St. Patrick’s Day music and dance event named BRIGID. The event is described as, “A musical celebration of Brigid the Saint, of Brigid the Goddess, of Irish and Celtic Women, of light and Springtime, and it is a celebration of Irish and Celtic culture, history, the present, and our future.” Slated to perform on the music side of the event is The Brigideens ft. Eileen Ivers, The Bow Tides, and Ally the Piper, Dance performers include Morgan Bullock, The Step Sisters, Bell School of Irish Dance, and Shovlin Academy of Irish Dance. August Wilson African American Cultural Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (R.H.)

Monday, February 5

Madonna, a Bay City Michigan native, was a straight-A student and a cheerleader in High School. In 1978 she dropped out of the University of Michigan to seek her fortune in New York City as a dancer and singer. After several different groups and romantic relationships—one of which was with Jean-Michel Basquiat—she struck out on her own. Initial success led to the release of her self titled album in 1983. That blockbuster album spun off several huge hits that grew her popularity both in the U.S. and abroad. “Lucky Star,” “Borderline,” “Holiday,” “Burning Up,” “Physical Attraction,” and “Everybody” were the hottest tracks from the album. The LP reached no. 8 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved five-times Platinum sales status. Madonna followed that success with another top selling album in 1984, “Like a Virgin.” The artist has never been afraid to stir the pot with her songs and outfits. One album was even titled, Erotica. Her videos were the darlings of MTV in the ’80s. Her song “Into the Groove” was used in the 1985 film, Desperately Seeking Susan starring Rosanna Arquette. Madonna’s latest album, 2019’s Madam X, reached no.1 on the Billboard 200 chart. She is one of the most creative and successful performers in recent decades. Madonna visits Pittsburgh on her Celebrations Tour which highlights four decades of songs. 8:30 p.m. PPG Paints Arena, 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (R.H.)

Madonna in concert in London on her current Celebrations tour accompanied on piano by daughter Mercy James. (Photo: Chris Weger and Wikipedia)

Madonna in concert in London on her current Celebrations tour accompanied on piano by daughter Mercy James. (Photo: Chris Weger and Wikipedia)

Thursday, February 8

Greensky Bluegrass will perform at Stage AE tonight in support of their latest album, 2022’s LP Stress Dreams. Greensky Bluegrass has done pretty well for itself. 2016’s Shouted, Written Down & Quoted (produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin), peaked at number three on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart. The album before that, 2014’s If Sorrows Swim, went to number one. The band has sold out venues like Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. Greensky Bluegrass began as a trio in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2000, and it has since swelled to a quintet. No drummer in this band; instead get ready for banjo, bass, dobro, guitar, and mandolin. Its live shows are also known for fantastic light displays. Special guest is Melt. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (C.M., R.H.)

Friday, February 9

Remember that quarterback at Jacksonville State, a guy named Riley Green? He was a pretty smooth passer at the college level, some years ago, and now you can see him when he comes to Pittsburgh playing the position he switched to as a pro: country music star. It sure looks like Green made a smart move there. So far, he’s had a run of Billboard top 20 hits. The Academy of Country Music crowned him New Male Artist of the Year for 2019. He has collaborated and shared stages with artists such as Luke Combs and Morgan Wallen. In October 2023, Green released his second album, ambitiously titled Ain’t My Last Rodeo. Maybe it’s time to make it to a Riley Green concert before ticket prices go through the roof. Green plays the Petersen Events Center with special guest Ella Langley. 8 p.m. 3719 Terrace St., Oakland. (M.V.)

Monday, February 12

There are weird music videos and very weird music videos, and then there’s the video (above) for “Crutch,” by Band of Horses. Like a herd of wild horses high on loco weed, this one wades madly into a medley of internet-video cliches—cute kitties; mouth and face overlays—betting boldly that it will come out on the “so bad it’s good” side. And maybe it does! The song is pretty good. “Crutch” climbed to number 1 on Billboard’s Adult Alternative Airplay chart in 2022. It’s the lead single from Things Are Great, the sixth studio album by Band of Horses and the group’s most acclaimed album since the Grammy-nominated 2010 release Infinite Arms. Based in Charleston, South Carolina (and sometimes billing themselves drolly as “the 3rd best band in the Carolinas”), the Horses have earned a distinctive place in the indie/alternative scene with their hypnotic, melodic tunes and simple but poetically resonant lyrics. Currently they’re on tour, fronted by founding singer-instrumentalist Ben Bridwell. Pittsburghers can catch Band of Horses at the Roxian Theatre. 8 p.m. 425 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. (M.V.)

Friday, February 16

Billionaire businessman Thomas Tull is a Sewickley renaissance man. He sold his ownership in Legendary Entertainment and bought an ownership stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009. He owns a dairy farm in Washington County and is an investor in The Milkshake Factory. He also co-founded and plays guitar in a rock band called the Ghost Hounds, who most famously opened for the Rolling Stones here during their concert in October 2021. He also started the Maple House Festival a few years ago which featured the Ghost Hounds and several other prominent names in the music industry. The band’s latest album is this year’s First Last Time. Another top local talent in the Hounds is keyboardist Joe Munroe. You can catch the Ghost Hounds in their rescheduled show at McKees Rocks’ Roxian Theatre. Special guest is Orianthi. 7 p.m. 425 Chartiers Ave. (R.H.)

Friday, February 16 and Saturday, February 17

If he had done nothing else, Drake would be renowned in the annals of hip hop as the artist who popularized singing as well as rapping to the beats. But he’s done much more, becoming an all-around cultural icon and the very model of a modern global superstar. Drake, born Aubrey Drake Graham in Toronto in 1986, first rose to Canada-wide fame as a teenager when he won a featured-actor role in a teen drama series on Canadian TV. But even then, he had scenes in which he rapped—like the notable one where his character raps from a wheelchair after being shot. And once Drake focused on music, the results were spectacular. His debut mixtape in 2006 drew modest sales but had a prophetic title: Room for Improvement. Indeed. Since then, Drake has won five Grammys and numerous other awards while cutting eight studio albums and placing a record-breaking 328 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. His other ventures range from fashion and fragrance lines to producing TV shows and serving as global ambassador for the Toronto Raptors NBA team. Drake is portrait-ized in wax at Madame Tussauds in London. His combined Wikipedia pages run to the length of a small book. And …

Drake is booked in Pittsburgh for two shows on his joint tour with J. Cole. On this journey—double-titled the It’s All A Blur Tour: Big As The What?—they’re scheduled to be joined by special guests Boi-1da, DJ Prince, and maybe more. Drake and friends play PPG Paints Arena at 8 p.m. on February 16 and again at 8 p.m. on the 17th. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. (M.V.)

Thursday, February 22

Boyz II Men are originally from Philadelphia, and best known for beautiful vocal harmonies in their love ballads. They hit the charts with “I’ll Make Love to You” and “End of the Road” in the early 1990s. “End of the Road” set a new record for weeks topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with 13 weeks at number 1. Boyz II Men then upped their chart-topping record to 14 and 16 weeks, respectively, with “I’ll Make Love to You” and “One Sweet Day” (with Mariah Carey). They’ve continued to tour and record over the ensuing decades, with a total of 15 studio albums. The group has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and even found time to make a TV commercial or two. One for Geico shows that even unpleasant medication side effects can sound better when sung by silky smooth Boyz II Men. Founding baritone/tenor Nathan Morris heads the current lineup, with longtime fellow artists Shawn Stockman and Wanyá Morris. Hear Boyz II Men in the Event Center at Rivers Casino. 7 p.m. 777 Casino Dr., North Shore. (R.H., M.V.)

Tuesday, February 27

Singer/songwriter and guitarist Aimee Mann is in concert at the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. Mann, who co-founded and fronted the 1980s group ‘Til Tuesday, has had a successful solo career with songs that are melodic, smart, and humorous. “Pavlov’s Bell,” “That’s Just What You Are” and “Freeway” provide great examples of her songwriting. Mann is married to musician Michael Penn (brother of actors Sean and the late Chris Penn). In addition to being a very talented recording artist, Mann is also a visual artist. A series of her paintings titled, You Could Have Been a Roosevelt, were of the ten worst presidents including Millard Fillmore and were exhibited in 2022. Also in 2022 she created autobiographical comics on Instagram and plans to make a graphic novel. Lets hope she keeps making music too for a long time to come. Special guest is Jonathan Coulton. 8 p.m. 510 E. 10th Ave., Munhall. (R.H.)

Aimee Mann having fun in a 2008 concert at Manchester Academy. Photo: Andy (6tee-zeven) and Wikipedia.

Aimee Mann having fun in a 2008 concert at Manchester Academy. (Photo: Andy (6tee-zeven) and Wikipedia.)

Other Shows of Interest

Tuesday, February 6
Salsamba (Greer Cabaret Lounge)

Tuesday, February 13
Tania Grubbs Quartet (Greer Cabaret Lounge)

Wednesday, February 14
Scott Blasey (Jergel’s Rhythm Grille)

Thursday, February 15
Matt Pond PA (Club Cafe)

Friday, February 16
Frank Vieira (Rivers Casino)

Saturday, February 17
Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers (Rivers Casino)
Billy Price Band (Moondog’s Pub)

Saturday, February 24
Bill Toms and Hard Rain (Moondog’s Pub)
Vento, Ziggy, Hawk & McCarthy (Mr. Smalls Funhouse)

Wednesday, February 28
Selwyn Birchwood (Hard Rock Cafe)

Thursday, February 29
Celtic Angels Ireland (Palace Theatre)

Big Shows on the Horizon

March 9
Zach Bryan (PPG Paints Arena)

March 10
Kenny Wayne Shepherd (Palace Theatre)

March 15
Bryan Adams (PPG Paints Arena)

March 19
Blackberry Smoke (Roxian Theatre)

March 27
Fall Out Boy (PPG Paints Arena)

March 29
Kane Brown (PPG Paints Arena)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.

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