Concert Guide July 2024: Def Leppard, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chris Stapleton, Bret Michaels, Guster, and Grushecky

Bret Michaels performing in New York in 2014. (Photo: Rjkowal and Wikipedia)

Bret Michaels performing in New York in 2014. (Photo: Rjkowal and Wikipedia)

There’s many interesting shows this month. The biggest is a classic rock tripleheader at PNC Park with Def Leppard, Journey, and the Steve Miller Band. Another big classic rock show is at Star Lake with Styx and Foreigner on their Renegades and Juke Box Heroes tour. Perennial Pittsburgh fave, Bret Michaels, once again brings his Parti Gras tour to Star Lake with Lou Gramm, Dee Snider, and Don Felder. If this keeps occurring on an annual basis it could help take away the sting of the loss of Jimmy Buffett and his annual party stop.

The multi-award winning Chris Stapleton plays Star Lake as does the noted alt-rock band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Ludacris is all set to have a “Jiff-ing” good time at Hollywood Casino at the Meadows. Country, blues, rock performer Charley Crockett is having a big year and plays Stage AE as does O.A.R.  and Fitz and the Tantrums, The Flaming Lips, and Guster. Iconic Pittsburgh rocker Joe Grushecky, and The Houserockers, is having an album release party at City Winery.

Spotlight Picks

Tuesday, July 2

Formed in 1983, Red Hot Chili Peppers were never just another L.A. punk band. Flea slapped as much as he plucked his bass. Anthony Kiedis rapped more than he sang. All members had a predilection for performing naked save for a strategically placed tube sock. When founding guitarist Hillel Slovak died of a heroin overdose in 1988, founding drummer Jack Irons sadly quit as well. Kiedis and Flea persevered, hiring John Frusciante on guitar and Chad Smith on drums. On September 24, 1991, Blood Sugar Sex Magik was released, the same day as Nirvana’s Nevermind, both albums heralding a mainstream breakthrough of alternative rock. Frusciante quit in 1992, wrestled with drug use, then got clean and rejoined in 1998. 1999’s Californication marked the group’s comeback. And, unlike bands that produce less new material as they age, the Chili Peppers have gotten red-hotter recently, releasing two chart-busting albums in 2022: Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen—both with Frusciante, who had re-left to focus on solo work, then re-rejoined. Catch the Red Hot Chili Peppers at The Pavilion at Star Lake, with guests DOMi and JD Beck.. 7 p.m. 665 PA Route 18, Burgettstown. (C.M., M.V.)

Friday, July 12

Chris Stapleton has achieved much at this point in his career. His work as a performer, composer, and producer has produced 10 Grammy Awards, 11 Academy of Country Music Awards, 16 Country Music Association Awards, and five Billboard Music Awards. He has co-written with top artists such as Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Luke Bryan, Sheryl Crow, Justin Timberlake, and even Peter Frampton. Stapleton went solo with his debut studio album titled Traveller in 2015. The release reached No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 chart and went triple platinum. His second studio album, From A Room: Volume 1, was also highly successful, garnering Stapleton the CMA Award for Album of the Year and a Grammy Award for Best Country Album. He met his wife Morgane, also a highly successful singer-songwriter, when they worked at adjacent publishing houses in Nashville. She performs with Chris, singing background, harmony, and duet vocals in his band. Stapleton’s latest album is last year’s Higher. He brings his All-American Road Show to The Pavilion at Star Lake. Special guest is Nikki Lane. 7 p.m. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (R.H., M.V.)

Chris Stapleton performing on "Austin City Limits" in 2016. (photo: missmojorising and Wikipedia)

Chris Stapleton performing on “Austin City Limits” in 2016. (photo: missmojorising and Wikipedia)

Saturday, July 13

He’s the good-looking cowboy from right here in western PA! You can bet the joint will be jumping when Butler native and diehard Steelers fan Bret Michaels revisits his home turf for a gig at The Pavilion at Star Lake. Michaels, born Bret Michael Sychak, has won fame in practically every way available. In addition to the solo career he launched in 1998, he’s been a founding member and longtime lead vocalist of the glam-metal rockers Poison. He wrote, directed, and starred in the movie A Letter from Death Row, with his friend and colleague Charlie Sheen. Michaels has even had his own reality TV shows. Expect to hear him doing new songs like “Back in the Day” along with numbers from his repertoire (maybe “The App Song”), vintage Poison hits, and more. The show is a highlight of Bret’s Parti-Gras 2.0 tour. Guest list for the Parti includes Dee Snider, Lou Gramm, Don Felder, and Chris Janson. 7 p.m. 665 PA Route 18, Burgettstown. (M.V.)

Monday, July 15

One of my songs of the summer is Charley Crockett‘s “Solitary Road.” I saw him perform it on “CBS Saturday Morning” and was impressed, and then I heard it on the radio and that drove it home. Crockett mainly grew up in Los Fresnos, Texas, before his family moved to Dallas. A descendent of American icon Davey Crockett, he wandered around playing his guitar in America and the world including stops in New Orleans, Northern California, New York City, Paris, Spain, and Morocco. He’s released 13  studio albums including this years $10 Cowboy. Crockett has a wonderful singing voice; full of bravado, melody, and twang. This is quite evident on “Solitary Road. The lyrics stand out and create a gritty reality. His band is very accomplished too. The guitar arrangements on the song are fantastic with Crockett and his other guitarist switching lead while at the same time the slide guitar player adds depth. The title track $10 Cowboy has some good truths too. Last year Crockett was nominated for Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year at the 2023 Americana Music Honors & Awards. Hear this country, blues, soul performer at Stage AE. Special guest is John R. Miller. 7 p.m. Indoors. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore  (R.H.)

Thursday, July 18

What began as teenage time-passing in drummer Chris Culos’ Rockville, Md., basement soon became O.A.R.’s first album, The Wanderer—and the band’s been working ever since. With several platinum records, sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden, and ten acclaimed studio albums to date, O.A.R. shows us how to transcend the constrictions that eras and styles often bestow on contemporary music; as their acronym suggests, “Of a Revolution” does not allow the passage of time to quiet them. If you need proof, you can see them in concert at Stage AE and you’ll have a chance to see O.A.R. meld indie-alt-pop themes from the last two decades. The band’s latest album is 2022’s The Arcade. Fitz and The Tantrums first big success came in 2010 when the band broke out in 2010 when the album Pickin’ Up the Pieces reached number one on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart. The album generated several hits, including “MoneyGrabber,” “Don’t Gotta Work It Out,” and “Breakin’ the Chains of Love.” Fitz and the Tantrums followed up with 2013’s More Than Just a Dream. Its “Out of My League” also climbed the charts. Fitz and the Tantrums have grown into a more highly polished dance-pop sound and have lost some of their rawer musical power, but they are still a very interesting band to hear live. Their 2016 release, Fitz and The Tantrums, contained the hit single “HandClap.” Fitz and the Tantrums are touring in support of their latest LP, 2022’s Let Yourself Free. Doors at 6 p.m. DJ Logic opens. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (R.H.)

Friday, July 19

Strangely, the Wikipedia page for hip-hop artist Ludacris says his stage name is pronounced “ludicrous” in “American English.” Not exactly. You really should do a “cris” instead of “crous,” because his birth name is Chris Bridges. But like a good rapper, Ludacris loves to play with words: his 1999 debut album was titled Incognegro. And, in a career that’s taken him to the tip-top of hip-hop, he has blossomed into a multifaceted star and public figure. As an actor, he had prominent roles in two movies last year, the action film Fast X and the Christmas comedy Dashing Through the Snow. Along with being a record producer, he is a co-producer of the Broadway musical How to Dance in Ohio, based on a true story about autistic young adults. Ludacris is an avid philanthropist whose homepage is mainly about his nonprofit Ludacris Foundation, with only a back page about himself. And since he’s a self-effacing fellow, we won’t embarrass him by listing his Grammy Awards and platinum hits. Catch Ludacris at the Hollywood Casino at The Meadows in a summery show slated for outdoors. 8 p.m. 210 Racetrack Rd., Washington, PA. (M.V.) 

Saturday, July 20

The experimental psychedelic alt-rock band The Flaming Lips, spawned in 1983 in Oklahoma’s tornado country, storms into Pittsburgh once again for a concert at Stage AE. The Flaming Lips stand as one of the genre’s most accomplished and revered acts, and their shows provide a can’t-miss experience that expertly combines visual and auditory stimulation through rhythmic lines and a trippy, syncopated light show. (Their 2010 concert at the late Station Square Amphitheater, where frontman Wayne Coyne stopped the concert to listen to a passing train, is the stuff of legend.) The band had a hit with “She Don’t Use Jelly” in 1993 and rose to further prominence with 1999’s The Soft Bulletin and 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.  The latest of their 16 studio albums is American Head, released in 2020. Their awards include three Grammys, and The Lips shared a 2018 Tony Award nomination for “Tomorrow Is,”  part of the original score for SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical. The Stage AE show features a commemorative reenactment of the Yoshimi Battles LP. Doors open 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (E.C., M.V.)

Saturday, July 27

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 was released in 2022. 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. “The Wheel in the Sky” keeps on turnin’ and luckily keeps Journey on tour with stops in Pittsburgh.  It’s been over 40 years since the band originally formed, and they haven’t stopped rocking (or believing!) since. Indeed, the band famous for “Don’t Stop Believin’” has been absolutely relentless in their success over the years; to date, their Greatest Hits album has sold more than 15 million copies. Lead singer Steve Perry left the group for a solo career first in the mid-eighties and then again in the nineties. Several other singers have fronted the band. Since 2007 Journey has featured a talented Filipino lead singer, Arnel Pineda, who lead guitarist Neal Schon, saw do an amazing cover of  “Don’t Stop Believin‘” on YouTube and asked him to audition for the band. They were highly impressed and asked him to join Journey. 2022’s Freedom is the group’s most recent release. In the 1970s, the Steve Miller Band was one of the hottest acts around. Miller was born in Milwaukee and grew up in Dallas, where in high school he met friend and future bandmate (for one year) Boz Scaggs. He also lived in Chicago and New York before settling in San Francisco and finding his groove. His first taste of major chart success came in 1973 with The Joker, with the title single hitting number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. When the follow-up album, Fly Like an Eagle, dropped in 1976, the title single flew up the charts—nesting at number two. The song speaks to finding a solution for humanity’s ills. A song chronicling two young lovers—who were also bandits and wanted by the police—was another of Eagle’s hits: “Take the Money and Run.” Every time Texas is referenced in the song, it’s followed by five hand claps. 1977 saw the release of Book of Dreams, which generated the hits “Jungle Love” and “Jet Airliner.” With all that success, Miller’s career zenith was definitely in the 1970s, but he has released other quality material over the years. A popular draw on the concert circuit, Miller and his band continue to shine. 6 p.m. PNC Park, 115 Federal St., North Shore. (R.H.)


Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers are Pittsburgh rock royalty that have risen through several incarnations—from the Brick Alley Band to Joe Grushecky and the Iron City Houserockers to the unit’s present day form—Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers—to become one of Pittsburgh’s top bands. Over the years Grushecky’s sound is one of both hard-driving rock and roll and insightful ballads. The lyrics and music seek higher ground, and find it. Top songs include “Pumping Iron,” “Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive),” and “Rock and Real.” Grushecky has recently released Joe Grushecky Houserocker: A Joe Grushecky Anthology and this month, July 27,  Joe Grushecky and the Houserocker’s are holding an album release show for their latest album Can’t Outrun a Memory. Look for an upcoming story on Grushecky and the new release. Hear Grushecky classics and hot new tunes at City Winery 1627 Smallman St., Strip District. (R.H.)

Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers.

Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers.


Guster has been on the national music scene since 1991, scoring hits that you probably know by ear if not by name. (“Satellite,” from 2006’s Ganging Up on the Sun, is one.) The alt rockers formed in the Boston area, but they love Pittsburgh—and they love to have fun. In January of 2016, when a snowstorm kept them from making it to a concert elsewhere, Guster played an impromptu set in the snow in front of a dumpster on Pittsburgh’s North Side. That summer they appeared at the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, with then-Mayor Bill Peduto joining the members for a hastily composed song about Pittsburgh. And this spring they again did a popup gig on the streets of the city. Now comes the next chance to catch Guster live on a real stage. They’re touring in support of their new album Ooh La La, their ninth studio release. But the tour is called the “We Also Have Eras” Tour, so expect to hear songs from every Guster era at Stage AE. Special guest is Kahone Concept. 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (C.M., M.V.)

Wednesday, July 31

Styx is the mythical river in Greek mythology that sets the boundary between Earth and Hades. It’s also the name of a Chicago rock band whose major success was between the chronological boundaries of 1972 and 1984. During that period, the band had four consecutive multi-platinum albums and 16 top 40 singles on the U.S. charts. The hit parade included songs like “Lady” and “Come Sail Away.” Oh, and of course Steeler fans love Styx’s “Renegade,” which is often played at home games and on Kennywood’s Steel Curtain coaster (when operational). In 2021 Styx released their 17th studio album, Crash of the Crown. Veteran rockers Foreigner are famous for power ballads such as “I Want to Know What Love Is” and rockers like “Rev on the Red Line” and “Juke Box Hero.” Mick Jones is the only remaining original member of the band, which formed in 1976 and was composed of several Americans and several Brits (including Jones). The group had a major hit with its eponymous, five-times-platinum first album, released a year after it formed. The hot singles “Feels Like the First Time” and “Cold As Ice” were from the album. Other top-selling albums followed, including Double Vision (1978) and Head Games (1979). Lead singer Lou Gramm (a Yank), who co-wrote many of Foreigner’s hits with Jones, left the band for good in 2003. Their most recent studio album is 2009’s Can’t Slow Down. Foreigner is one of the world’s top-selling bands with over 80 million records sold. Jones and the band are frequent visitors to Pittsburgh and have a good following here. The Renegades and Juke Box Heroes tour is at The Pavilion at Star Lake Special guest is John Wait. 6:45 p.m. 665 Rt. 18, Burgettstown. (R.H.)

Other Shows of Interest

Sunday, July 7
The Bar-Kays with Clinton Clegg (Hartwood Acres)

Tuesday, July 9
Third Eye Blind (Star Lake)

Thursday, July 11
Train (Stage AE)

Friday, July 12
Billy Price & Bill Toms (South Park Amphitheater)
Bill Henry Band (Pittsburgh Winery)
Blackridge (Club Cafe)

Sunday, July 14
10,000 Maniacs (Jergel’s)

Saturday, July 20
Sam Hunt (Star Lake)

Sunday, July 21
Billy Bragg (Palace Theatre)
Paula Cole with Brooke Annibale (Hartwood Acres)
Buzz Poets (Pittsburgh Winery)

Monday, July 22
Winger (Jergel’s)
The Band Camino (Stage AE)

Tuesday, July 23
Sad Summer Festival (Stage AE)
Etta Cox (Katz Plaza)

Wednesday, July 24
Taking Back Sunday

Thursday, July 25
Lyle Lovett and his Large Band (Stage AE)

Saturday, July 27
Jim Messina (Pittsburgh Winery)

Sunday, July 28
Halestorm (Stage AE)
The Crane Wives (Mr. Smalls Theatre)
Bowling For Soup (Palace Theatre)

Monday, July 29
Hozier (Star Lake)
Sleater-Kinney (Stage AE)

Tuesday, July 30
Lamb of God and Mastodon (Stage AE)
Robert Jon & The Wreck (Jergel’s)
Hugo Cruise and the Caminos (Katz Plaza)

Big Shows on the Horizon

August 2
Dan + Shay (Star Lake)

August 10
Jason Aldean (Star Lake)

August 14
Imagine Dragons (Star Lake)

August 15
Bruce Springsteen (PPG Paints Arena)

August 18
Bruce Springsteen (PPG Paints Arena)

August 20
Doobie Brothers (Star Lake)
Childish Gambino (PPG Paints Arena)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.

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