Best of the 'Burgh 2010: Arts & Entertainment

Our editors pick the best of the best in Pittsburgh arts and entertainment.




Artspace 105, located in Homestead, features exhibitions of photography, sculpture, woodworking and mixed media.

Photo courtesy of Artspace 105

Best Band: Perfect performance by every member of a rock band is something we’re woefully unfamiliar with. But the members of 28 North—Mike Lindner, Alex Stanton, Jonathan Colman and Tyler Bond—are masters of their instruments, playing with furious, precise passion. The band’s unique sound often turns out like big ’60s rock mixed with gritty blues (think The Who going down South). It’s irresistible, infectious and infinitely refreshing. 28 North tours nationwide, but Pittsburgh iss home; they’ve become favorites of WDVE, having hosted the radio station’s Christmas party. Go to a show. Now. Concent info: 28north.net. — Sean Collier

Readers' Poll: Best Museum: Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., North Shore; 412/237-8300, warhol.org

Best Viral Video: When Snowmageddon rocked the ‘Burgh in February, most people waited out the storm on their couches, swaddled in Snuggies. But instead of hiberating like the rest of us, seven friends from Mt. Lebanon went “Pittsburgh Urban Skiing.” Led by Colin Sander, a 22-year-old film producer from Los Angeles who had returned home to Pittsburgh to work on the Russell Crowe film “The Next Three Days,” the crew grabbed their skis and a digital camcorder and set out to answer a simple question: “Can we ski down Mount Washington?” More than 100,000 YouTube views later, the answer is, incredibly, yes. Watch the video on YouTube. — Sean Patrick Conboy

Readers' Poll: Best Local Dance: Bodiography Contemporary Ballet Co., 5824 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill; 412/521-6094, bodiographycbc.com

fairmont pittsburgh

Photo courtesy of Fairmont   
Pittsburgh   

Best Opening Gala: It was a debutante ball for the youngest and fairest new hotel in town, Fairmont Pittsburgh. And she was dressed up for the big event: Guests stepped gingerly across a temporary walkway that resembled a garden under glass and then made their entrances into the stunning main lobby, which glittered amid a sea of champagne and ball gowns. The evening was rife with surprises: An Andy Warhol lookalike sat at the bar, trapeze artists twirled from the ceiling and a guided tour of rooms featured startled hotel guests (actors!) in bed or bathrobes. The international buffet was fabulous, but the miniature desserts stole the show. Guests left with a hot cup of coffee in a Fairmont travel mug and discovered a breakfast treat in their valet-parked car. 510 Market St., downtown, 412/773-8800; fairmont.com. — Betsy Benson

Readers' Poll: Best Movie Theater: AMC Loews at the Waterfront, 300 W. Waterfront Drive, Homestead; 888/262-4386, amcentertainment.com/waterfront

Best Unexpected Nightlife Combo: Duke’s Station, just outside of South Park, is a surprisingly fun spot any night of the week. Drink specials are generous, the food is cheap and there’s karaoke seven nights a week. This makes for an unlikely double-header on Mondays, though. Local comic Aaron Kleiber hosts a stand-up open mic starting at 8 p.m., leading up to the start of karaoke at 9:30 p.m. In practice, this means up-and-coming comics can bust out their favorite hits on a microphone they used to work out new material 30 minutes ago. Crazy fun. 5981 Baptist Road, Bethel Park; 412/835-0697. — S.C.

Readers' Poll: Best Jazz Venue: Cabaret at Theater Square, 655 Penn Ave., downtown; 412/325-6766,
pittsburghclo.org/cabaret

Best Sunset Picnic Spot: At the top of a hill of broad, sloping lawn at the Schenley Park Overlook, adjacent to the Schenley Skating Rink and Disc (Frisbee) Golf Course, people gather every warm night with blankets and lawn chairs for a spectacular combination of sunset and skyline. With an ideal angle of the sun setting behind downtown in the distance and the Cathedral of Learning and Oakland in the foreground, the Overlook makes for a picture-perfect stage. Bring your camera. Schenley Park Overlook, 1 Overlook Drive, Squirrel Hill; pittsburghparks.org/schenley. — J.W.

Readers' Poll: Best Local Comedian: Gab Bonesso, gabbonesso.com

Readers' Poll: Best Local Artist: Daniel Teadt, danielteadt.com

Best Underground Art Space: Shhh. Let me share a secret: Sometimes, the most engaging art galleries aren’t the ones with cheese plates and French wine. If you don’t want to be distracted by sterile hobnobbing and pretension, visit Artspace 105 in Homestead for exhibitions of photography, sculptures, woodworking and mixed media that brim with youthful energy and ethnically diverse subjects. 105 E. Eighth Ave., Homestead; 412-480-7246, steelvalleyarts.org. — S.P.C.

Readers' Poll: Best Classical Music Venue: Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Ave.; 412/392-4900, pittsburghsymphony.org

fort pitt museum

Photo by Chuck Beard   

Best Pitt Stop (and Start): If you don’t know about Fort Pitt (and its fortified predecessors) and the genesis of our history at the forks of the Ohio, then how can you understand our city and region? Fortunately, there’s the Fort Pitt Museum, which is the Pittsburgh 101 course for everyone, especially newcomers to the region. The museum reopened this spring with such familiar attractions as the incredible scale model of Fort Pitt and its environs, as well as refurbished exhibits and some new ones, too, making the point that everything old (even really, really old) can be new again. Point State Park, downtown; 412/281-9285, heinzhistorycenter.org. — Mike May

Readers' Poll: Best Pop Music Venue: Mr. Small's, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale; 412/821-4447, mrsmalls.com

Best Place for a Halloween Party: The Evaline Party is not just the best Halloween party in town—it’s one of the most creative parties ever thrown. Hosted by the residents of 426 Evaline Street in Bloomfield, this one-night event converts an ordinary Victorian mansion into a thematic madhouse. In the past, the cellar became a submarine with a fully functional periscope, used to spy on people upstairs. A bedroom served as a mini-planetarium. And last year, the party found inspiration in 2001: A Space Odyssey and featured a full-sized replica of the movie’s space-pods. In the house’s expansive yard, there’s even a functional rollercoaster, homemade by the Evalinians. There’s only one hitch: The line to enter this party stretches around the block. 426 S. Evaline St., Bloomfield. — Robert Isenberg

Readers' Poll: Best Performing Arts Venue: The Benedum Center, 803 Liberty Ave., downtown; 412/456-6666, pgharts.org

pittsburgh banjo club

Photo by Chuck Beard   

Best Free Entertainment: The Pittsburgh Banjo Club gathers every Wednesday night around 8 p.m. at the Elks Club on the Northside’s Cedar Avenue. Where else can you find 20 or more banjo players strumming along to golden oldies like “Heart of My Heart” and “Carolina in the Morning?” This is not the five-string bluegrass banjo of “Deliverance” and “Hee Haw.” The Pittsburgh Banjo club celebrates the four-string banjo and a repertoire that goes from the Gay ‘90s through the Roaring Twenties. They’ve been entertaining audiences of all ages for more than 20 years in Pittsburgh and raising money for local charities. Wednesdays are supposed to be rehearsals, but it looks and sounds like too much fun to be work. The full band plays until 11 p.m., but stick around for an after-hours jam around the piano. Allegheny Elks Lodge #339, 400 Cedar Ave., Northside; 412-321-1834. — Chris Fennimore

Readers' Poll: Best Theater Company: Pittsburgh Public Theater, 621 Penn Ave., downtown; 412/316-1600, ppt.org

Best Eccentric Holiday Celebration: A Festivus Party requires three major rituals: First, the raising of a Festivus Pole; second, celebrants “air their grievances;” finally, they demonstrate “feats of strength.” Ever since that legendary “Seinfeld” episode, urban hipsters have thrown Festivus parties on Dec. 23. In Pittsburgh, this tradition is revived now and again—last year by the Scoot’n Yinzer Scooter Club and in 2006 by the Quiet Storm. It’s just the kind of weird, secular holiday that disaffected youth can get behind—even if the main activities are arm-wrestling, paper-football and lots of loud griping. If everybody is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, then Festivus makes us all a little Costanza. — R.I.

Readers' Poll: Best Summer Festival: Three Rivers Arts Festival, artsfestival.net

leaf & bean pittsburgh

 Photo by Chuck Beard   

Best Place to Spend a Few Quiet Hours: You don’t need to smoke cigars or drink coffee to fall in love with Leaf & Bean in the Strip District. The vibe is so deliciously mellow and the space so wonderfully stuffed with an eclectic mish-mash of vintage décor that you’ll come for the caffeine but stay for the atmosphere. Best part: The air quality is reasonable, even when several customers are puffing away. If only Leaf & Bean had evening hours. The schedule varies, but most days, the shop closes by 6 p.m. If you use Google to find the establishment’s website, don’t be confused—several coffee houses around the country are named Leaf & Bean but have no relation to this Strip District favorite. 2200 Penn Ave., Strip District; 412/434-1480. — Melissa Rayworth

Readers' Poll: Best Walking/Riding Trail: Montour Trail, montourtrail.org

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Pittsburgh’s medical lifesavers rated by their peers, including anesthesiologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, surgeons, urologists & many more.
Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Innovations in Postpartum Depression Treatment, First-Aid Training and Food Security.
Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

With a little work, the Strip District restaurant could become a Pittsburgh classic.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Why Hotel Rates are Dropping in Downtown Pittsburgh

Why Hotel Rates are Dropping in Downtown Pittsburgh

Rents for Downtown apartments also are declining.
New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

Pittsburgh ties with one other city for having the worst drivers in the nation.
HGTV Series Pilot Focuses on Renovation of Pittsburgh Home

HGTV Series Pilot Focuses on Renovation of Pittsburgh Home

The pilot episode of “Steel City Rehab” follows a Pittsburgh couple as they flip a home in the city’s East End.
‘The Good Wife’s’ Zach Grenier Appears on the Pittsburgh Stage

‘The Good Wife’s’ Zach Grenier Appears on the Pittsburgh Stage

Grenier on playing the dream role of Willy Loman, coming to Pittsburgh and performing at the renowned Pittsburgh Public Theater.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Pittsburgh’s medical lifesavers rated by their peers, including anesthesiologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, surgeons, urologists & many more.
Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Innovations in Postpartum Depression Treatment, First-Aid Training and Food Security.
Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

With a little work, the Strip District restaurant could become a Pittsburgh classic.
Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

The builder of two stadiums, a billion-dollar football business, NFL labor harmony and racial sensitivity, and bridges between constituencies –– he was an everywhere man whose soft, steady hand was felt everywhere.
Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive ailment to treat and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Pittsburgh has become a battleground in the fight against the devastating illness, thanks to the decade-long quest of two Pittsburgh researchers whose work is on track to change the face of medicine and affect millions worldwide.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Why Hotel Rates are Dropping in Downtown Pittsburgh

Why Hotel Rates are Dropping in Downtown Pittsburgh

Rents for Downtown apartments also are declining.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Scratch Food & Beverage Has a New Executive Chef

Scratch Food & Beverage Has a New Executive Chef

Brandon Blumenfeld introduces an American gastropub menu at the Troy Hill bar.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Five Essential May Events

Five Essential May Events

Comics (the kind on paper), comics (the kind with microphones), cats and more upcoming delights.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

If Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is still available, the Pittsburgh Steelers would be wise to make him their first-round pick in the NFL draft.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Pittsburgh on a Plate

Pittsburgh on a Plate

The way to a beer lover’s heart is mapped out on notNeutral’s plate, which highlights Pittsburgh breweries (and other points of interest) across the city.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Sink Into a Trippy High School at Row House Cinema

Sink Into a Trippy High School at Row House Cinema

The Pittsburgh premiere of offbeat cartoon "My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea" is the local film event of the week.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

You’ll definitely want the story behind these stunning wedding flowers.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Hosted by the Penn State Master Gardeners, the free event, which includes the local daffodil society’s annual show, features exclusive and hard-to-find flowers, shrubs, fruit and vegetable plants and other garden accessories from a variety of vendors.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

Considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Alex Rodriguez also is one of the league's more controversial stars.

Comments