Five Essential September Events in Pittsburgh
Early eeriness, enigmatic experiences and more September events.
I have a longstanding bias toward late-’90s and early-aughts alternative and punk in this space. That may not precisely appeal to everyone reading, but … well, it’s my blog and I can do what I want.
That predilection does go beyond my own taste, however. Somehow, Pittsburgh has become a hotbed for turn-of-the-century throwback concerts. The long-awaited return of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones featured in this space last month sold out weeks in advance, as did the dual-headline show at Stage AE starring Bush and Live. The upcoming all-day bill headlined by Rancid is one of several mini-festivals in the genre scheduled for the next six weeks.
A half-generation earlier, Pittsburghers never stopped listening to Van Halen and Bon Jovi; now, we will keep spinning CDs (still a thing) by Blink-182 and Barenaked Ladies.
We like what we like, and we keep liking it.
Whether they remind you of your younger years or push you in new directions, here are five events I’ll be looking forward to this month.
Harris Theater, Aug. 30 to Sept. 5
Director Jennifer Kent delivered one of the most talked-about debuts in recent memory with the 2014 horror flick “The Babadook,” a small masterpiece of creeping, domestic terror. Her second feature, “The Nightingale,” is a revenge tale starring a deeply mistreated convict in 19th-century Australia. Reviews of the film have been warm — some decidedly so — despite warnings about the film’s disturbing content. (If you’re troubled by certain depictions of violence, you’ll probably want to read a content warning before you go.) I haven’t yet seen the film, but I’ll be eagerly buying a ticket to see it at the Harris; Kent is an incredibly promising filmmaker.
“The Lion King”
Benedum Center, Sept. 4-29
Debate rages (even as the box office take rises) about whether or not Disney’s not-quite-live-action remake of “The Lion King” is any good. (I have made my opinion clear.) But however you feel about photo-realistic, computer-generated warthogs, the Broadway version is a landmark that changed the course of musical theater; while some of the spectacle-first productions that followed haven’t matched the artistry of “The Lion King,” it remains a revelatory, moving experience. If you have somehow missed it to this point — or have only seen a small-scale production — you should absolutely plan for a trip to the Benedum this month. It’s captivating from the first note. (You know, “Na.”)
Hundred Acres Manor
South Park, Select Dates Sept. 6 to Nov. 9
As is tradition, next month’s installment of this article will be entirely focused on Halloween-adjacent activities. But — blessedly — spooky season has expanded well into September, with South Park haunted attraction Hundred Acres Manor usually leading the pack. They’ll open for the season Sept. 6, with several of its best recent creations returning, including bayou-creepy “Vodou,” the slasher-tinged “Hallow’s Eve” and the remarkable, London-set “The Host.” An all-new theme is to be announced. Black-and-orange obligations tend to stack up as Oct. 31 approaches, so make plans to head to South Park early this year, while the competition is scant.
Rancid and More
The Lots at Sandcastle, Sept. 14
The long-running Vans Warped Tour appears to be really most sincerely dead after a series of farewell one-offs this year. Fortunately, several of the most iconic acts of the Warped era are choosing to stage their own (smaller) package tours anyway, still offering a day of power chords with much less hassle. (And fewer pesky young people.) Rancid will be leading a caravan into the periphery of Sandcastle this month; the lineup also features bro-punk favorites Pennywise, hardcore progenitors Suicidal Tendencies, British ska legends The English Beat and Iron Reagan. If you need additional punk pioneers in the same weekend, Descendents play the Roxian Theater the next night.
Undisclosed South Side Location, Sept. 20 to Nov. 3
Bricolage’s groundbreaking immersive production “STRATA” drew national attention and acclaim in 2012. Their upcoming experience, “Project Amelia,” seems to contain echoes of “STRATA,” with some significant tweaks: Participants will “be assessed and given the opportunity to interact with cutting edge technologies in order to make your mark” on a story about artificial intelligence and the future of technology. Much of what “Project Amelia” will contain is undisclosed — including the precise location of the show, which will be revealed to ticket buyers — but come prepared to share. At Bricolage shows, your openness and willingness to engage often serve as currency.