Celebrate Mac Miller At Colors And Shapes On The South Side This Friday
The event will feature music, art, activism and food inspired by the late Pittsburgh rapper.
In the kitchen, Chef Gabriel Knecht found a kindred spirit in Mac Miller.
He listened to the late rapper’s music while working in at Regent Square’s Dive Bar & Grille near Frick Park. Miller, who grew up Malcom McCormick in Point Breeze, released the song “Frick Park Market” as a nod to his Pittsburgh roots.
“I related to the music, the lyrics,” says Knecht, who was homeless just a few years ago. “I was starting my sober journey and doing a lot of time in the kitchen. I would hear a song and think, ‘Hey! That’s a dish!”
He established Other People Need Food to honor the musician with menus inspired by his songs.
For the third year in a row, Knecht is teaming with local businesses and organizations to throw a free Mac Miller experience that combines music, art, food, good vibes and a few surprises. Colors and Shapes, will be held Friday, Sept. 1 from 3 to 10 p.m. at Velum Fermentation, on the South Side.
Doors open at 2:30 p.m. Organizers expect at least 2,500 attendees and encourage hungry fans to arrive early if they want to get a bite.
The 35,000-square-foot brewery at 2120 Jane St. will be filled with revelers, live painters and Iron City Circus Arts performers (they’ll do aerial acts from 3 to 4 p.m. and 9 to 10 p.m.) while seven local hip-hop DJs spin Mac Miller songs.
“They think outside the box to incorporate randomly assigned Mac components into sets of their choosing,” says Knecht, who is a musician and artist.
Fellow creatives from around the world submitted artwork that will be on display either physically or via digital projection. Many artists donated raffle items and will be selling prints. Folks can snap selfies in front the Mac Miller mural inside Velum Fermentation created by of Tyler Podomik and Dejouir Brown. An “immersive music scene” will allow guests to step into a music video.
All artist submission fees and a portion of the proceeds from raffle tickets and food and beverage sales will be donated to the Mac Miller Fund. Established in 2018 through The Pittsburgh Foundation, the fund supports young artists and musicians in underserved communities with resources and programming, including help finding addiction treatment. Colors and Shapes has donated more than $3,000 to the fund. This year’s goal is to raise $5,000.
KMFK Safety Services, an onsite health and safety team, will be there. Their model aims to
negate risky behaviors through community-driven awareness and direct action. KMFK will be providing doses of the opioid reverse drug Narcan, providing training and distributing fentanyl test strips and a variety of other harm-reduction materials.
Colors and Shapes will mark the Pittsburgh debut of Love, Peace + Grilled Cheese, a New York-based food truck that will be Velum Fermentation’s official food partner. The official launch of the concept will be in November.
Knecht connected with the owners David Slominski and Danielle Craver at an Atlanta music festival where he was feeding attendees for free through a social media initiative called Food For A Follow. Sponsored by his then-employer Dive Bar & Grille, he distributed free breakfast to more than 500 people. Love, Peace + Grilled Cheese was his festival neighbor and had a Steelers flag in front of their truck. A black-and-gold partnership soon unfurled.
The Mac–inspired menu on Sept. 1 includes cleverly named appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, salads and drinks.
Guests can get a Frick Park Market, a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, provolone and mayo on ciabatta bread with a side of Easy Mac, macaroni slathered in Velum beer cheese, garlic butter and breadcrumbs.
East Liberty-based TLC Libations, Pennsylvania’s first Black woman-owned craft distillery, is providing the beverages. Featured elixirs include The Spins (passionfruit, jalapeno, tequila), Bird Call (rum punch, pineapple, mango, lime) and Don’t Trip (Velum beer and a shot combo). Blue World is a blueberry-mint lemonade mocktail that also will be available spiked.
While the co-owners of Velum, Nate McLaughlin and Jenna McLaughlin (who is married to Nate’s twin brother, Ryan) work to expand their business, they offer local nonprofits use of the enormous space at no charge.
Allegheny Millworks donated $3,000 worth of lumber so the team could create an adjustable stage for the Sept. 1 event as well as future performances. Knecht and the McLaughlins want to host a music festival there next summer.
Knecht has big plans for the future
“You can change the world with a great bassline, some friends and a good sandwich,” he says.