Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

After Dark Hall of Fame: Stage AE

The North Shore concert hotspot is the latest inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame.




Photo by Sean Collier
 

The After Dark Hall of Fame has no entry requirements. I’ve inducted a bowling alley. A street. A loosely organized class of establishments. Two local chains. A yinzer bar. A hipster bar.

On slow weeks, I’ve considered inducting a sandwich. (I haven’t gotten there. Yet.)

But concert venues have remained conspicuous by their absence in this entirely fictional hall of local nightlife institutions. The reason is simple: Until recently, Pittsburgh didn’t have a great concert venue.

To be sure, Pittsburgh had plenty of great concerts. But a truly perfect venue?

PNC Park and Heinz Field are limited because stadium concerts, y’know, sound terrible every time.

Star Lake Amphitheatre — which recently changed its name yet again, prompting the entire region to collectively declare, “Nope, we’re not learning this one, we’re just going back to calling it Star Lake” — holds a lot of nostalgia for me and other locals. But the experience of getting there is a maelstrom of traffic and overpriced parking and they’ve never figured out how to serve decent food or drink at a reasonable price.

I do like Mr. Smalls — it’s a great space and hosts a number of excellent acts — but it’s not quite worthy of induction. And there are plenty of bygone nightclubs (Club Laga, The Decade, the Electric Banana) that might well make the cut if they were still standing.

Since late 2010, however, Stage AE has proven itself as versatile as it is amenable — and it looks, and sounds, great. Modeled on a game-changing predecessor in Columbus, Ohio, the venue has brought music to the North Shore that would have otherwise had to dig deep for an appropriate setting.

Seriously — a few months before Stage AE opened, the Avett Brothers played the Ches-A-Rena. Y’know. The thing in Cheswick.

You know, Cheswick? It’s up the river a bit? Let’s move on.

The indoor/outdoor stage is the stroke of genius, here. During the warmer months, Stage AE is a more manageable replica of the traditional outdoor amphitheatre, eschewing rows of seating for a sizable pit (even during sold-out shows, it’s not a challenge to get close to the stage if you’re so inclined) and a sprawling lawn (big enough to spread out, not big enough to feel like you’re in an untamed free-for-all). When the weather turns, the indoor version of the club offers excellent sound and uninterrupted sightlines.

You can get a hot dog without sticker shock, and the prices for beer are lower than those at a Steelers or Pirates game (and thus significantly lower than those at Star Lake). It’s not even hard to park; most of the time, you can find street parking if you look hard enough.

In the interest of full disclosure, Stage AE has hosted a number of Pittsburgh Magazine events in the past — I assure you that I have no sway on where and when we host parties, so there’s no bias here — but even that speaks to the versatility of the venue. This is not a place that either hosts a band or shuts its doors; in fact, many of my favorite trips to Stage AE have been for pro wrestling events.

Somehow, Stage AE is also the best venue in town for pro wrestling.

The proof of a great venue, ultimately, is in the bands that play there, and the variety and quality is staggering in that regard. Acts capable of filling much larger spaces (I’m thinking of the sold-out 2015 set by Weezer or the forthcoming guaranteed sell-out by Portugal. The Man) choose this venue when they come through town. And while some spaces skew towards a certain genre, Stage AE is the place where I’ve seen Marilyn Manson and Lyle Lovett. Snoop Dogg and Fiona Apple. Anthrax and Girl Talk.

We needed a place like this in town. Then it arrived.

 

Previous Inductees
Eat'n Park
East Carson Street
Western Pennsylvania Social Clubs
​Nied's Hotel
Arsenal Lanes
The Sharp Edge chain
Kelly’s Bar & Lounge

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Director and “Mr. McFeely” Discuss “Won't You Be My Neighbor?”

The director of the forthcoming Mr. Rogers documentary sits down with the longtime Mr. McFeely and Pittsburgh Magazine.

Pittsburgh Teen Chess Phenom to Host Her First-Ever Tourney

Chess enthusiast Ashley Lynn Priore hopes to enrich the Steel City’s involvement in one of the most classic and challenging of board games.

Hungry for Something Good, Pittsburgh? Where We're Eating in June

We're obsessed with Greekfreez vegan frozen treats, taking a first look at the new menu at Independent Brewing Company and traveling to The Tavern on the Square. Plus, we talk to Poulet Bleu pastry chef James D. Wroblewski II.

Working in a Steel Mill Turns Fantastical in 'The Glass Lung'

Pittsburgher Anjali Sachdeva’s first book blends the normal with fantasy in nine short stories.

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.

Pittsburgh Flicks and Nightlife in June

PM Nightlife Editor Sean Collier explores the popularity of Coughlin's Law on Mt. Washington and the future of Jump Cut Theater.

Pittsburgh's Can't Miss Concerts in June

The Pittsburgh music calendar is packed this month. Check out some of our suggestions for the best ways to spend those steamy summer nights.

June: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest stage plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.

Undercover: What We're Reading in June

Reviews of Smoketown: The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissance by Mark Whitaker and Abandoned Pittsburgh: Steel and Shadows by Chuck Beard

Perspectives: How Cold Is Too Cold for Spiders to Live?

A former Marine and Pittsburgh firefighter comes face-to-face with his biggest fear.

Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Faces Centennial Challenges

This year marks a milestone anniversary — and questions regarding the emerging digital economy — for the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.

Highmark Stadium Struggles To Accommodate Music Fans

The Station Square venue could be a good place to see a concert. It's not there yet.

CMU Launches America’s First Degree in Artificial Intelligence

Starting this fall, undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon will have the option to earn a degree in one of the world’s fastest growing fields.

Hog Wild at Fallen Aspen Farm

Owners Jake Kristophel and Desiree Sirois are committed to compassionate animal husbandry at Fallen Aspen Farm.

This is Where ‘Pittsburgh's Paul Bunyan’ Would Have Lived

The living emblem of Pittsburgh steelwork, immortalized in a Braddock statue, has been reborn with a titular space in Bloomfield.