Collier’s Weekly: Concerts in Pittsburgh Can Keep You Forever Young

With a little tenacity and a little compromise, you can revisit the heady concertgoing days of your youth this (and every) year.


Last weekend, I was briefly taken in by a lazy April Fools’ Day image.

Now that the internet has turned the first of April into a 24-hour parade of confusing and ultimately disappointing pseudo-hoaxes, there are plenty of half-hearted cons floating around. In my case, it was a concert lineup purporting the return of the Vans Warped Tour, the deceased summer concert tour that brought a smorgasbord of punk bands to amphitheaters from 1995-2019.

Throughout the 2010s, the tour’s cultural relevance waned and its expenses mounted; it went out with the end of the decade. While rumors of an eventual return have swirled, the days of coast-to-coast rock carnivals are likely behind us.

I was taken in only briefly by the fake concert lineup — I should’ve known that My Chemical Romance are too big to bother with a Warped Tour in 2023 — but I found myself pining for the show. When I was a teen, there was no more exciting event; even when I revisited the festival in 2017, I found it invigorating. As I looked over articles about the tour’s demise and searched for speculation that it might be revived, I gave in to nostalgia.

I almost let myself get away with thinking something along the lines of “things aren’t what they used to be.”

Before long, though, I corrected myself: They are, more or less.

Mere days before I was indulging in my Warped reverie, I was making plans to attend this year’s Four Chord Music Festival. The locally produced event brings in many of the same bands that could be seen on Warped Tour stages — this year’s lineup includes Taking Back Sunday, Yellowcard, The Gaslight Anthem, Alkaline Trio and more — as well as up-and-coming and regional acts in an all-day celebration of millennial punk.

As a much older and not-at-all-punk rocker once said: It’s all the same. Only the names have changed.

I was so busy regretting I couldn’t literally travel back to 2001 and see Flogging Molly and The Ataris play at the I.C. Light Amphitheatre that I forgot that I’ll get the chance to fully scratch the itch a few months from now. It’s like that around here — a combination of constant yinzer nostalgia, attachment to habit and plain love of rock and roll keep bands and shows alive.

This is true across generations. If you’re a bit older than me, you can mark your calendars for Kansas’ return to the Benedum or the Star Lake show with Foreigner and Loverboy. Jergel’s Rhythm Grille has shows coming up from a variety of throwback favorites: Evan Dando, Lita Ford, the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies — and, for a slightly younger generation, the “Pop 2000” tour featuring O-Town, Ryan Cabrera and N’Sync member Chris Kirkpatrick. The Roxian has upcoming shows featuring Tegan and Sara, Anti-Flag and the inexplicably still alive George Clinton.

We can tend to get so wistful about our bygone youth that we ignore the many ways available for us to reclaim it. While the exact circumstances we embraced as teens may be gone, we also tend to look at them through rose-colored glasses; for all I loved about those all-day punk festivals of the late ’90s, they were less convenient, more chaotic and less safe than shows today. With the benefit of time and wisdom, we can usually reclaim the feelings we’re seeking — and appreciate them more for the time in between.

This time, though, I’ve gotta remember to hydrate and wear sunscreen. I’m pretty sure I nearly passed out in the Star Lake parking lot about a dozen times around the turn of the century. Remember when we could make terrible mistakes and our bodies would just kinda keep going? Now that’s something to be wistful about.

Categories: Collier’s Weekly