20 Free Concerts to Catch This Summer

Jefferson Starship, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are just some of the shows you can catch for free.




Photos courtesy of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
 

 

Last week, we previewed 20 classic flicks headed for Pittsburgh theaters (and other assorted movie screens) this summer. When planning this week’s entry, we reflected on a set of facts: We love summer. We love good times. We’re fond of the number 20.

Let’s keep it rolling.

This week, we’ll turn our attention to music. To up the challenge, though, we’re going to make things extra easy on your wallet. Every one of our picks is part of a free concert series. From Grammy winners to cover bands, plenty of amps will be turned on free of charge this summer, and in the wake of great lineups at Stage AE, Mr. Small’s and elsewhere, we want to keep you rockin’ without taking a hit in the wallet.

Why don’t we handle this by series? And where else to start but ...


Allegheny County Summer Concerts at Hartwood Acres

The long-running series never falters, and this year, they’ve topped themselves right off the bat. Punk pioneer Bob Mould takes the Hartwood stage on June 9, touring in support of his acclaimed solo album Silver Age. Mould is best known as the frontman of punk legends Hüsker Dü and underground alternative legends Sugar. (He’s also known to everyone in the country, whether they know it or not, as the creator of the iconic “Daily Show” theme.)

Rockin’ folk outfit Langhorne Slim and the Law play on June 23, fresh off of an appearance on “Conan.”

The annual Pittsburgh Blues Festival runs from July 19-21, and unfortunately for our tidy narrative, two of those three nights aren’t free — very much worth your time and cash, but not free. Friday’s festivities, however, are free with the donation of a bag of nonperishable food items. That premiere night stars Big Sam’s Funky Nation.

Legendary funk group Galactic comes to Hartwood on August 11. Anyone found not to be dancing at this concert will be given a confused, angry look.

On August 25, singer-songwriter Rickie Lee Jones will put in an appearance. While she’s best known as a rocker — VH1 named her the 30th-greatest woman in rock history in 1999 — her diverse career has included a number of styles, including some formidable renditions of jazz and blues standards.


Allegheny County Summer Concerts at South Park

Yes, our lovely county isn’t content to give us just one venue’s worth of free summer entertainment; there’s plenty of noteworthy shows across town on the South Park stage, too. On June 14, veteran blues guitarist Tommy Castro brings his band The Painkillers to town. Castro has been writing danceable blues tunes since his 1994 solo debut.

There have been a whole bunch of Wailers over the years, and we honestly can’t figure out how many (if any) of the current lineup played with Bob Marley. But that doesn’t mean that the current group’s June 21 appearance won’t be an excellent show of reggae classics.

It’s not a Pittsburgh summer without at least one instance of outdoor classical music. Head to South Park for an open-air set from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on July 6.

If you’ve ever unearthed a stack of your mother’s old records, you’ve surely discovered a David Cassidy album. The former Partridge Family member brings the oldies on July 12.

A crossover pop hit from a Christian rock band is a rare thing — so it’s pretty remarkable that you remember all the words to “Kiss Me,” the ’90s mega-hit from Sixpence None the Richer. The trio plays South Park on July 26. In addition to their own tunes, the group is known for catchy covers of hits like “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and “There She Goes.”
 


Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival

The most buzzed about act at this year’s Arts Festival is probably indie darlings Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, best known for hipster anthem “Home.” The band has a loyal following thanks to constant touring and legendary live performances, so their free set on June 7 is likely to draw devotees from miles away.

86-year old bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley arrives at Point State Park on June 8. The lauded living legend released two albums of Old Songs & Ballads last year.

A one-night only Pittsburgh supergroup forms on June 9, as Cello Fury are joined by Joy Ike and Scott Blasey of the Clarks for a one-of-a-kind collaboration.

Grammy winners are par for the course at the Arts Festival; Oscar winners are considerably more rare. Glen Hansard won an Academy Award in 2007 for the tune “Falling Slowly,” from the indie hit Once (which he also starred in). He’s toured extensively with bands The Frames and The Swell Season (which also included Once co-star Markéta Irglová). Hansard will play the Arts Fest June 12 in support of a solo album, Rhythm and Repose.

In a better world, The Airborne Toxic Event would be selling out stadiums. The indie-rock outfit has gained an underground following over five years of work, but haven’t charted a hit in the US. Check out the near-perfect tune “Sometime around Midnight,” off their debut album, for a sample that will have you circling June 15 on your calendar.
 

Rivers Casino

Sometimes, you just want to rock out, publicly, to “Come Sail Away,” or “Bad Moon Rising,” or “Billie Jean.” And most of the time, the original artists are unavailable. (Okay, Styx are usually available, but still.) For those occasions, there are tribute bands — and Rivers Casino has made such acts the focus of their yearly Live from the River Summer Concert Series. We’re most pumped for Beatlemania Magic on July 3 and the coupling of Shining Star (Earth, Wind and Fire) and Beat It (Michael Jackson) on September 1.
 


EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta

A bit of Woodstock turns up at this year’s Three Rivers Regatta, as Jefferson Starship — still featuring Jefferson Airplane founder Paul Kantner — performs at Point State Park on July 3. Get your Independence Day weekend started right with rock classics like “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love.”
 


Station Square

Details are still being finalized for this year’s installment of the free summer concert series at Station Square, but we can confirm two essential shows. Ska legends The English Beat will take over the South Shore on July 11. The legendary group played every hit in their repertoire for a ravenous Arts Festival crowd a few years back, and supported fellow Brits Squeeze at the Carnegie Music Hall last year. If you’ve ever found yourself bopping to a ska beat, don’t miss this one.

And it goes without saying, but Joe Gruschecky is one of Pittsburgh’s great treasures. His reputation for serious rock n’ roll has only grown over the years (thanks in part to now-legendary sets at Soldiers and Sailors with buddy Bruce Springsteen). He’ll make a Station Square appearance on July 25.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Southwest Airlines Planning More Flights from Pittsburgh

Southwest Airlines Planning More Flights from Pittsburgh

The Allegheny County Airport Authority has been lobbying for more direct service from Pittsburgh to the West Coast.
Zing Basket Promises Speedy Grocery Delivery to Your Door

Zing Basket Promises Speedy Grocery Delivery to Your Door

The online grocery delivery service opened this week, promising delivery in 45 minutes or less to selected neighborhoods.
Old Farmer’s Almanac: Winter in Pittsburgh Will Be Warmer, But…

Old Farmer’s Almanac: Winter in Pittsburgh Will Be Warmer, But…

In its 225th year, the reference book on weather suggests we tune up our snow-removal equipment.
Chris Jamison Releases His First EP

Chris Jamison Releases His First EP

The Ross native finished third on NBC's “The Voice” in December of 2014.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons

Two years after Chuck Noll’s death, University of Pittsburgh Press prepares to publish the first definitive biography of the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers coach. Pittsburgh Magazine is proud to share an interview with author Michael MacCambridge and an exclusive excerpt of “Chuck Noll: His Life’s Work,” scheduled for release in October.
The Changing Face of Campus in Pittsburgh

The Changing Face of Campus in Pittsburgh

Renovation is under way at nearly all of our area colleges and universities. For students heading back to school this fall — and their parents — we offer this crash course on the highlights of these projects and their projected benefits.
Fall Fashion: In the Black

Fall Fashion: In the Black

The little black dress, and shirt, and pants, never go out of style. Add mystery to your wardrobe with these easy-to-accent autumn staples.
Apteka: A Taste of Home

Apteka: A Taste of Home

Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski bring top-notch vegan, eastern European cuisine to Bloomfield.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Southwest Airlines Planning More Flights from Pittsburgh

Southwest Airlines Planning More Flights from Pittsburgh

The Allegheny County Airport Authority has been lobbying for more direct service from Pittsburgh to the West Coast.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Where to Go at the Three Day Blow

Where to Go at the Three Day Blow

Our dining critic (and Three Day Blow organizing committee member) has a roundup of some open to the public events.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 5 Best Comic Shops in Pittsburgh

The 5 Best Comic Shops in Pittsburgh

These comic book shops offer more than just your casual Batman or Spider-Man choices.

Comments


New Industry Public House Location Up to Par

New Industry Public House Location Up to Par

If you’re in need of a dining option that’s not a national chain while visiting the Robinson area, this is one to keep in mind.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Le'Veon Bell Talks The Talk But Can’t Walk The Walk

Le'Veon Bell Talks The Talk But Can’t Walk The Walk

The Steelers running back emphasized his latest suspension resulted from missed random drug tests, and not a relapse into the marijuana-induced haze that got him jammed up last season. But if you lack the maturity to grasp the consequences of your actions (or, in this case, inactions), does it really matter?

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Custom Made: The Surmesur Suit

Custom Made: The Surmesur Suit

Straight out of Canada, the custom menswear store opens its first U.S. location in Pittsburgh.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
'Hands of Stone' Keeps the Boxing Movie Genre Strong

'Hands of Stone' Keeps the Boxing Movie Genre Strong

Reviews of "Hands of Stone" and "Don't Breathe," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Lucky Ones: Katie Doré and John Potter

The Lucky Ones: Katie Doré and John Potter

Want even more Real Pittsburgh Weddings? We'll be bringing them to you throughout the fall, beginning with this lovely and lucky couple.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Put a Lid On It! The Container Store Coming to Pittsburgh

Put a Lid On It! The Container Store Coming to Pittsburgh

The store famous for carrying storage and organizational products is set to open at the revamped Block Northway in Ross Township.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Two Events Planned for Prospective Waynesburg Students

Two Events Planned for Prospective Waynesburg Students

A fall visitation day and a Saturday information session aim to allow interested students a look into life at the university.

Comments