This Weekend: Steelers & Bands at Altar Bar

I’ve got a recommendation for Sunday’s game for you, directly inspired by where I spent last weekend’s contest. Friday and Saturday, let’s talk bands, ’Burgh and otherwise.

It’s always good to have another Steelers game to talk about.

I mean, strictly speaking, I don’t really need to mention just how dominant our awe-inspiring football club was last weekend or prognosticate on the likelihood of a rousing defeat of the overrated Jets of New York. Being that this is a blog about nightlife, I am under no particular obligation to point out just how gratifying it was to watch the arrogant Ravens stunned into silence during the course of a breathtaking, incredible second half.

I don’t need to do any of these things, no. But I don’t need to listen to the remix of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” and its fantastic, ’Burgh-praising verse from Snoop Dogg 10-12 times per day, either. I do both of these things because I am genuinely taken by playoff fever and hanging my emotional well-being on Steelers news and updates on a daily basis.

’Cause, you know, that’s just how we do things around here.

And, if I may say: Here We Go.


Drusky Entertainment, local promoters of fine concerts big and small, is turning a robust five years old this week and celebrating in style. Altar Bar, Pittsburgh’s go-to venue for unique, fun shows, is hosting a birthday bash featuring most of the best local bands of the last, like, decade-and-a-half or so.

The inimitable Buzz Poets will headline, and 2010 Pittsburgh Mag Best Band winner 28 North will have a featured set. Good Brother Earl will show up for an acoustic session. Party favorites Gene the Werewolf will play a set between shots of Jack. Mercury, Voodoo Babies, Lovebettie, The Delaneys, and so on, and so forth. It’s a big, long, loud, fun night, is what I’m saying.

And—the key—only $5, and 100 percent of that will be donated to Make-a-Wish. Five bucks to charity and you get the biggest party of the weekend to warm you up for Sunday. (See, snuck it in there again.) (Drusky Entertainment Five Year Anniversary Party, Friday, 7 p.m. Altar Bar, 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $5. 21+. Info: 412/263-2877,


You’ll note that I am usually loathe to recommend any hipster joints in this space or the print side. Hipster bars, hipster bands, hipster films (they do exist), whatever it may be, if it’s trendy in a detached way and faux-ironic, I usually pass.

I should mention that if you have no idea what any of that meant, you can probably just move on to Sunday.

Sometimes, though, in spite of my anti-cool attitudes, sometimes you just have to feel like you’re part of the in-crowd. And the Melwood Screening Room can help you with that this weekend. They’re screening Strange Powers: Stephen Merritt and the Magnetic Fields, a documentary on the frontman of the bizarre Boston band and his love for a wide range of instruments and techniques.

Afterwards, you can head just down Bigelow to the only bar in town that might conceivably have a Magnetic Fields record on the jukebox: Gooski’s in Polish Hill. It’s a laid-back, comfortable faux-dive that made my 20 Hot Bars list; come for the microbrews, stay for the free ping-pong. Discuss the film. Feel cooler than your friends. (Strange Powers: Stephen Merritt and the Magnetic Fields, Saturday, 6 and 8 p.m. Also Friday, 8 p.m., Sunday, 3 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, 8 p.m. Melwood Screening Room, 477 Melwood Ave, Oakland. $8. Info: 412/682-4111, Gooski’s, 3117 Brereton St., Polish Hill. Info: 412/681-1658)


I only ended up at August Henry’s for last Saturday’s triumphant vanquishing of the lowly Ravens by accident, but I’m glad I did. I was busy until about 5:30, and my lovely girlfriend and her sister were going to defend some space at another downtown establishment, but found it already full. August Henry’s was just down the street and had some space, so they called an audible and grabbed some space at the bar.

I’ve been to August Henry’s before, but not in quite some time; I forgot that this is a fine choice for just about any downtown evening. There’s a good number of draft choices, and the bartenders are fine mixologists if you’d like something a little more stiff—I once ordered a Michael Collins and didn’t get a confused look. The food is game-day perfect, particularly the damn-tasty wings and hearty burgers.

Perhaps most importantly for a game-day bar, I found the crowd enthusiastic, attentive, but not too rowdy or distracting. I’m all for a little black-and-gold chaos, but I also want to eat my wings without getting a face full of beer. For a slightly more grown-up party this Sunday, August Henry’s is an excellent choice. (August Henry’s City Saloon, 946 Penn Ave., downtown. Info: 412/765-3270,

Categories: After Dark