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Five Essential August Events in Pittsburgh

Seasoned sketch, skacore sounds and more August happenings.

Photo by John Altdorfer

I think we just like doing things?

As a city. I think we enjoy showing up places.

While there is a strong Millennial instinct to nest — Netflix and inertia — we really seem to be willing to show up to anything with a crowd and one or more food trucks.

Last Saturday, I had a pack of friends at Picklesburgh (a giant civic celebration of modified cucumbers) while another posse encouraged me to turn up at Goatfest (a neighborhood gathering of people who desired to briefly stare at hooved mammals).

In Pittsburgh, “pickles” and “goats” are acceptable answers to the question, “Why should I leave the house?”

I think we just like doing things. Here are some things to do.


Not the Regatta
Nowhere, Aug. 2-4
Sorry, sorry, it was too easy. Moving on.


Sir Mix-a-Lot
Jergel’s Rhythm Grille,
Aug. 14
Listen: If you need me to explain why Sir Mix-a-Lot at Jergel’s is included here, then you’re clearly not in the target audience. This is the most self-explanatory event I’ve ever listed. Frankly, I’m offended that you would even expect a justification. “Baby Got Back.” Live. At Jergel’s. It justifies itself.


Little Italy Days
Bloomfield, Aug. 15-18
In terms of sheer numbers, Downtown still has the market cornered on outdoor festivals. The biggest crowds flock to the likes of the Three Rivers Arts Festival, Picklesburgh and Gallery Crawls, and for good reason. This should not, however, preclude civic occasions that welcome guests to the other city neighborhoods — particularly Bloomfield’s longstanding Little Italy Days, a great mix of old neighborhood character with signs of the area’s new life (look for great local bands at a number of venues, including the sidewalk outside Howler’s). What’s more: Bocce competitions. They’re surprisingly dramatic!


The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Mr. Smalls Theater,
Aug. 23
This one’s easy: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, those elder statesman of ska-punk, happen to be my bar-none favorite band. I first saw them in 1998 (and I still have the t-shirt to prove it), an era when the Bosstones billed themselves as being on a never-ending tour; over the next five years, they came through town on about a biennial basis. After an extended hiatus in the 2000s, the group reformed on a much lighter schedule; this is their first local appearance in six years. They’re a ferocious, impeccably skillful live act — the more sporadic schedule has only rendered them more crisp and furious when they get together — and their catalogue is infinitely deeper than the familiar “Impression That I Get.” Trust me: Thirty years in, the Bosstones remain one of the best touring acts around.


The Second City: Greatest Hits, Vol. 59
Pittsburgh Public Theater,
Aug. 23-24
The current touring roster of the venerable Chicago institution updates and revives some of their most storied sketches for this local stop, one of several Second City has made at the O’Reilly Theater. Expect some great bits of comedy, a lively improv set and (most importantly) world-class performers. Rising stars still pass through Second City on a regular basis, as the progenitor of modern comedy continues to deliver in spite of vastly increased competition.


Spirit Summer Recess
Aug. 24
Lawrenceville’s inviting hipster Valhalla remains the spot for anyone looking to make their night cooler than it has any right to be. As such, the annual, all-day fete mostly offers more of what Spirit is already good at: music, food, dancing and art. More than 15 cutting-edge local acts will perform; a separate DJ tent will offer beats; a live mural painting headlines a variety of in-person art; and eight vendors, including Spirit itself, will provide food. Pick out an ironic shirt and apply sunscreen liberally.


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