Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

In a Crowded City for Concerts, Rivers Casino Steps Up

The casino's new Events Center proves itself more than worthy of competing for big-name acts.


A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article broke down the recent boom in live-music venues in the Pittsburgh area. The lead referenced the impressive glut of options for concertgoers last Friday, June 7: among other shows, India.Arie, in her first local performance, at the Three Rivers Arts Festival, Death Cab for Cutie at Stage AE, Twenty One Pilots at PPG Paints Arena, Luke Bryan out at the former Star Lake Amphitheatre and George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic at the Rivers Casino Events Center.

It was that last concert that grabbed my attention; as noted in this month’s After Dark event picks, the dual allure of Clinton’s farewell tour and opening act Fishbone was too much to resist (despite invitations from friends heading to both Death Cab and the Arts Festival). It also provided an opportunity to investigate the Casino’s new venue, one of a few high-profile openings in recent months.

As an aside: It’s odd to see Parliament, in any form, in 2019. Clinton is 78; the big hits by Parliament and Funakdelic are more than 40 years old. While the current incarnation of P-Funk has a few long-standing members, none but Clinton are among the roster inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; it’s very much a legacy act at this point. Still, George Clinton and a cast of dozens, live on stage, grooving to “Flashlight” at the conclusion of the 2010s? That’s remarkable.

The Events Center proved a more-than suitable host for the venerable outfit. It’s a modular space that will likely be used more for conferences and private functions than live entertainment; it has, however, hosted a number of major acts since its opening in March (with fellow ’70s hitmakers Kool & The Gang). Upcoming bookings include Blues Traveler, “Weekend Update” host Colin Jost and a pair of anniversary shows starring Franki Valli and the Four Seasons.

The Events Center is set up for 2,000 patrons, which makes it among the largest in the region; while Stage AE can comfortably fit more, it dwarfs the capacity at Mr. Smalls, the new Roxian Theater and smaller concert halls such as the Byham and the Carnegie of Homestead. Yet its broad and open construction lends a more intimate feeling than expected; with a standing-room ticket, I could easily position myself on the far wall with a great vantage point, even during a sold-out show.

For Parliament, at least, it sounded great. Despite a decidedly chaotic stage setup — I made several attempts to count the number of people performing at any given moment, usually landing somewhere around 14 — the music was clear and crisp, without creeping up to an ear-splitting volume. (This has become a notorious fact of life at the smallest local venues; I can name a good number of concert spaces in Bloomfield and Lawrenceville that leave me deaf despite maximum capacities in the dozens.)

There are early-stage jitters yet to work out at the Events Center; I’m familiar with the casino, so I had no trouble finding the show, but there were clearly guests exiting the elevator with no clear idea where the show was located. (The Events Center is above the casino floor, down the hall from the Grandview Buffet.) And I was dismayed to arrive in what seemed to be the middle of Fishbone’s set, despite walking in at 8:05; a Facebook post had claimed the music began at 8, and Fishbone were not advertised as the first band of the evening. (An opener had been inexplicably relegated to an earlier time slot at a stage in the Drum Bar.)

Overall, though, I’m excited to see who turns up at the Casino; it’s a great-sounding and amenable new stage that, even in the presence of dozens of competitors, has immediately established itself as a worthy addition to the concert landscape.

And parking is free. In Pittsburgh, the importance and allure of free parking cannot be overstated.


Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

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

The Latest

Artist Invites Public to Add to Time Capsule at Arts Festival

Toby Fraley’s love for historical photos inspired him to take the next step for Pittsburgh’s future.

New Dimensions: The Comic Book Store's Surprise Move

Comic-book (store) avengers. How a sprawling comic-book shop moved out of its longtime home — and reopened for business mere hours later.

PM on KD: Recent Restaurant Openings

PM food critic Hal B. Klein appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss recent Pittsburgh restaurant openings that have him excited.

One Person's Flip Flop is Another One's Art

Ocean Sole Africa’s mission is to reduce pollution and waste by collecting flip flops from the ocean and making them into art.

All In The (Giaramita) Family: La Tavola Italiana and Pizza Taglio

Family members run two distinct restaurants, one classic and one with a contemporary spin.

DeCastro’s Preferred Order: Fries with That, Hold the Drama

The Steelers have emerged from their offseason sessions confident they’re capable of playing better. They also maintain a new atmosphere and culture have been established. But they won’t know for certain until they actually start playing.

Restaurant Review: Masala House in Shadyside

You'll find excellent Indian cuisine in a Shadyside building with a long culinary history.

A Tale of Two Strands: Theaters With the Same Name

In two small towns nearby, old vaudeville stages — which share the same name — have reopened and revitalized their communities.

Hello Neighbor and Scratch Food & Beverage Pair Up for a Very Special Dinner

The community dinner will feature Syrian cuisine, raising awareness of Hello Neighbor's mission and promoting connection and conversation with the region's refugee families.

The 400-Word Review: Murder Mystery

Well into Adam Sandler's tenure as a Netflix actor, he finally comes up with a mostly enjoyable comedy.

From Pittsburgh to the Moon: Our Role in the Space Race

As the nation and private entrepreneurs focus again on space, 50 years after Apollo 11 touched down on the moon, Pittsburgh is once again in the celestial spotlight.

The 400-Word Review: Men in Black International

The alien-comedy series hasn't been good since the 20th century. That trend continues with this soft reboot.

Sweet Partnership: Cakery Square and Fudge Farm

The opening of Fudge Farm's Bloomfield store marks an expansion of Wes Lyons' Pursuit Program and larger menu for the confectioners.

Things We Love — Three Rivers Arts Festival Edition

HOME editor Jessica Sinichak shares her favorite, locally made decorative items from the show.

In a Crowded City for Concerts, Rivers Casino Steps Up

The casino's new Events Center proves itself more than worthy of competing for big-name acts.