There are hundreds of concerts and music festivals in Pittsburgh this summer, so many that it seems impossible to keep track of them all. Not to worry: we’ve scoured the concert calendar and curated a list of the top festivals and concerts coming to Pittsburgh in 2017.
Free shows and festivals
You don’t have to spend a dime to experience quality outdoor concerts in Pittsburgh this summer, but in order of importance, here are the shows that are absolutely worth your time:
The preeminent free outdoor concert series this and every year in Pittsburgh remains the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, June 2-11 at Point State Park. This year’s standout performer is British soul singer Michael Kiwanuka, who performs June 6. His most recent album, Love & Hate, was on countless critics’ “Best of 2016” year-end lists and reached #1 on the UK charts.
Another marquee performance comes June 11 with Birmingham, AL soul band St. Paul and the Broken Bones, with support from Pittsburgh’s own full-throated rock n’ soul outfit, The Commonheart. And on June 8, it’s the Pittsburgh hip-hop showcase, Beats + Bars, featuring Choo Jackson, HollyHood, Billy Pilgrim, Pirate Gang, Track Meet, Hubbs and DJ Selecta. British indie-folk band Dawes performs June 9.
WYEP will present a pair of guitar-heavy indie rock bands during Final Fridays July 28 and August 25. In July, Timothy Showalter’s Strand of Oaks headlines a free set at Schenley Plaza with support from Pittsburgh synth-pop act, Emerson Jay; in August, Cleveland post-punk act Cloud Nothings top the bill, with support from hook-heavy garage-pop act Wreck Loose (who release their first LP June 16 at James Street Gastropub.)
Schenley Plaza is also the site of WYEP’s 20th Annual Summer Music Festival, June 24, featuring headliners Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears and The Marcus King Band.
There’s always free music at Hartwood Acres and South Park in the summer thanks to the fine folks at Allegheny County’s special events department. Pack a picnic basket and check out ’70s favorite Boz Scaggs at Hartwood Acres July 16, county pop outfit The Mavericks July 23, or Broadway star and Pittsburgh native Billy Porter August 27.
Over at South Park, there’s a performance by the Pittsburgh Symphony July 1, ’90s alt-rock band Gin Blossoms July 21, and ’70s rock band The Outlaws (of Green Grass and High Tides fame) August 11. See the full schedule for both venues on the Allegheny County website.
There’s no better crash course on the local Pittsburgh music scene than Lawrenceville’s Rock All Night Fest (RANT) or the Deutschtown Music Festival. RANT, now in its sixth year, takes place up and down Butler Street in Lawrenceville and is set for Labor Day Weekend. The full lineup of bands will be announced soon. Deutschtown, now in its fifth year, boasts 120+ bands across 30 stages, both indoor and out, throughout Deutschtown, Northside and Troy Hill July 14-15.
If you can’t wait until July for Deutschtown, head to James Street Gastropub June 17 for a free official pre-party: the HughShows 14-Hour Plastic Technicolor Inevitable Summer Exploding Love Dream, featuring, yes, 14 straight hours of music from Pittsburgh’s premiere indie rock musicians as they pay homage to the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.
Feastival returns to McKees Rocks for its fifth year August 26 with a jam band heavy lineup featuring headliners Leftover Salmon. Come for the food trucks, stay for the grooves.
If that’s not enough, the Rivers Casino Amphitheater welcomes a pair of Pittsburgh famous acts, Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers and Billy Price July 2. There’s also free music every Friday and Saturday from 6-9 p.m. at Southside Works from June until the end of August, not to mention the always-popular Summer Fridays at the Frick series June 23-Sept. 8.
Have money but limited time? Here are the shows worth your hard-earned cash:
Thrival Festival returns to Carrie Furnaces September 29-30 with headliner Wiz Khalifa, who recorded the music video for his 2012 hit “Work Hard, Play Hard” at the Swissvale industrial site. Other acts include rapper Logic, veteran Northern Irish indie rock trio Two Door Cinema Club, Atlantic Records electronic pop artist Kiiara, and English indie rock band Circa Waves.
JazzLive International returns to the Cultural District with a full weekend of events, some ticketed, including headliner Angélique Kidjo Saturday, June 17 at the August Wilson Center. From Benin, Kidjo is widely considered one of the greatest African singers alive today. She took home the award for Best World Music Album at the 2014 Grammys. Check out the full schedule on the JazzLive website, including a day of free jazz on two separate stages Downtown on Sunday, June 18, including performances by Spanish Harlem Orchestra and Jack DeJohnette’s band Hudson.
Ladyfest, a three-day festival of female-fronted/dominant musical acts, returns to the East End June 23-25. The big night is Saturday at Cattivo when a dozen bands play for just $10, including The Lopez, Working Breed, and Murder for Girls. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.
Annual punk festival Skullfest returns for its ninth year August 17-20 in the East End. Venues haven’t been announced yet but the event is being headlined by UK hardcore punk band Doom.
New Zealand electronic act The Naked and Famous headline the Feed More Festival Saturday, June 10 at Stage AE. The event, now in its second year, benefits the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Other performers include the soulful Max Frost and local pop acts Donora, Ballon Ride Fantasy and more. And did we mention the food truck court?
Want to see our picks for the best shows going on every week this summer? Read on . . .