Stage AE is a mid-sized venue located in the North Shore. The indoor area can hold up to 2,400 people, while the outdoor amphitheater can host 5,500. Most shows are General Admission without reserved seating, giving you the opportunity to pick your favorite spot or mix and mingle freely with other patrons. The acoustics in both areas of the venue usually sound fantastic and lend well to the mix of bands that they host. There are well-serviced bars both inside and outside, but the venue is also near plenty of North Shore bars and restaurants if you prefer to fill up on food and drinks before the show. Be aware that Stage AE is extremely strict about their bag policy though; they only allow small clutches or transparent totes. Ticket costs vary based on the artists, but shows here tend to be affordable and are typically under $50 each.
Mr. Smalls Theatre
Within the high ceilings and stained glass windows of a former 18th century Catholic Church in Millvale lies Mr. Smalls Theatre, an 800-person entertainment venue. Both local and national acts play here, and Muse, Snoop Dog, and Arctic Monkeys are just a few of the artists who have graced the stage with their presence. The acoustics are excellent here for a wide mix of genres, including indie, acoustic, country, and hip hop/rap. Mr. Smalls has plenty of standing room so that you can get up close and personal to the bands. There are multiple bars throughout the venue, plus a restaurant called The Funhouse if you’re craving a bite to eat before the show. Parking can be a little tricky in the area, so we’d recommend grabbing a rideshare or the bus to get to this venue, which is located just off Route 28 close to the city. Ticket prices vary, but many of the shows start at around $25 for general admission.
KeyBank Pavilion, located 25 miles from Pittsburgh in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, holds about 7,000 people under its amphitheater and 16,000 on the general admission lawn. You can catch plenty of well-known artists during the summers at Keybank Pavilion from a variety of genres, such as country, rap, and rock, and jam bands. Due to the potential for heavy traffic, we recommend heading to shows early…and you can have a blast tailgating in the parking lot ahead of time! While parking is free, leaving the venue can take some time, so you may want to splurge for VIP Parking. There are a variety of food and drink options inside, and you can bring your own food into the venue if it’s in a clear 1-gallon bag. If you choose general admission, feel free to bring your own lawn chair and blankets, or rent chairs when you arrive; chairs are a great option if it’s rained recently and the lawn is muddy. Tickets range in pricing, but can sometimes be under $30 for general admission depending on the artist, or you can get season tickets and spend your entire summer watching shows!
PPG Paints Arena
PPG Paints Arena, the home arena of the Pittsburgh Penguins, also holds concerts throughout the year. While the seating for each event varies, the capacity for center stage concerts is over 19,000, so you can catch plenty of pop artists and well-known bands at this larger venue. There are a lot of different seating areas and prices to choose from—sit near the top for a less expensive outing, or shell out more for premium club seats. However, most of the sightlines are good, and it’s hard to find a bad seat here. Small personal bags like purses are fine, and security tends to move quickly. The food and drinks are standard for an arena (nachos, hot dogs, and the like), but they occasionally sell out of certain items, so you may want to hit the stands early. The best spots to celebrate with fellow fans before the show are usually at the nearby Pittsburgh Marriott City Centre or Buford’s Kitchen across from the arena.
The Rex Theater
The Rex Theater on East Carson Street in South Side flies under the radar a bit, but you shouldn’t overlook this unique venue. While its capacity is smaller at 300 people seated and over 500 for standing gigs, the high ceilings give it a bigger and more open feeling. It was originally a Vaudeville theater that opened in 1905, and the front façade retains some of its original character. Inside, The Rex has a bit of a grungier atmosphere, which goes along perfectly with many of the bands that perform here. While The Rex features a variety of artists, if you’re into punk, hardcore, metal, and harder rock, this may be one of your better bets for seeing the bands that you like as they pass through Pittsburgh. There are two bars inside that offer quick service and large drink menus, including plenty of craft beers and local options, such as brews from Fat Head’s down the streets. Most tickets are under $30, and you can even catch the occasional free show if you keep an eye out for them. Tickets can be purchased online or at The Culture Shop and Dave’s Music Mine nearby.
Club Café may be tucked away on a side street on the South Side, but they still get some incredible international acts! This is a more compact venue that has a bar and lounge atmosphere, with limited seating and standing room, and shows that are strictly 21+. You can see plenty of interesting indie, acoustic, and even punk, grunge, and funk acts playing at Club Café, and one of the benefits of an intimate space is that you’ll be able to interact directly with the artists here as you dance the night away in front of the stage. Parking can be a little tricky in the area, especially on the weekends, so we’d recommend getting a ride or taking public transport to the venue. You can find tickets to many shows starting at just $10, making this an excellent option for seeing live music on a budget.
Benedum Center and Byham Theater
The Benedum Center and the Byham Theater are two different theaters located downtown, both managed by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Each venue has intricate designs on their gorgeous ceilings and traditional theater lighting and seating, making these feel like slightly more grown-up spots to see shows. The Benedum Center seats 2,800, while the Byham Theater is slightly smaller at 1,300. Both offer year-round schedules for shows and musicals, with all performances being seated. Tickets range quite a bit in pricing depending on the section that you sit in, with orchestra/pit seats typically being the most coveted, and balcony seats being a nice option if you prefer to see the stage from a higher vantage point.This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.