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Five Essential July Events in Pittsburgh

Parking-lot punk, polished Potter and other July attractions.

Photo by Sean Collier

I’m noticing a lot of you are mostly drinking on porches.

Don’t get me wrong: Solid idea. Always a good move.

But I’ve seen some empty seats around me when attending things over the past few weeks; it seems that our local institutions are having a slight bit of difficulty competing with the allure of drinking on a porch. Yes, now that the weather has finally turned, we with access to porches are going to sit on them as the sun sets, a cold beverage in hand. But do not let that habit deter you from also showing up at all your regular haunts as well. In summer, do not replace nights out with nights basking in the breeze; do both.

Here’s a few suggestions to get you off the porch. (You can go back to the porch afterward.)


ASCEND Summer Party and Team Challenge
ASCEND Pittsburgh,
July 7
I am constantly compelled to visit ASCEND, even though I have little-to-no upper-body strength and can scale only three or four walls in the building (on a good day). But the thrill of trying, and of conquering those few paths I can manage, keeps me coming back. If you’d like to give it a try, the team challenge at the climbing gym’s annual party might be a good day to start; they promise that even novices will have a good shot at scaling the walls and competing. You can also get a deep discount on a July membership; by the end of the month, you’ll be scurrying like a squirrel.


Weezer and The Pixies
KeyBank Pavilion,
July 10
Admittedly, seeing Weezer and the Pixies at Star Lake in 2018 is not, say, watching Weezer play Graffiti in 1994. Or seeing the Pixies at the Decade in 1988. As much as us music snobs are loathe to admit it, there is a hair’s breadth of difference from a package tour like this and whatever combination of classic rock acts will be at the pavilion the next night. But still: You’ll hear “Buddy Holly,” you’ll hear “Debaser,” you’ll hear “Surf Wax America,” you’ll hear “Where is My Mind.” It’ll be a good night with some great musicians.


Jeff Goldblum Day
Artisan Tattoo
and Row House Cinema, July 13
This holiday, which didn’t really exist until this year but I will now observe with more fervor than nearly all others, will be celebrated primarily in two local establishments. Artisan Tattoo will offer commemorative t-shirts, Goldblum-related flash sales, trivia contests and more; Row House Cinema will show a mystery movie featuring the locally-bred master of idiosyncratic charm. These are just the official ways to mark Jeff Goldblum Day, though. You should definitely celebrate your Jeff Goldblum Day however you like. What is the true meaning of Jeff Goldblum Day, after all?


Vans Warped Tour
KeyBank Pavilion,
July 16
It took 18 years, but it seems the ’90s have finally died. The last decade of the millennium saw a proliferation of coast-to-coast music festivals; at Lollapalooza, the Lilith Fair or a dozen others, you could see a litany of radio-friendly artists on one stage, whether you were in Pittsburgh or Portland. Most of those tours petered out before the iPhone was invented, but the stubborn punk caravan that is the Vans Warped Tour is making one final trek this year. (They’re teasing that Warped will be reborn as a festival in 2019.) Don’t worry about the lineup, which skews heavily toward the teen set this year; just head out and enjoy one last day of anonymous parking-lot punk.


“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Heinz Hall,
July 26-27
Being that this monthly feature is as much a repository of my own personal interests as anything else, I’ve rarely met a “Harry Potter” event I wasn’t inclined to mention. And this one is a no-brainer: the charming first film in the franchise will be shown amid the splendor of Heinz Hall, with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra providing a live score. I’ve gone to see the film in big-screen revivals twice already — and that was without world-class musicians playing the music, the last truly iconic John Williams composition. Pretty sure I’ll be buying a ticket for this one.


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