Avenged Sevenfold, Korn headine Mayhem Festival at First Niagara Pavilion

Written by Scott Mervis on .


avenged-sevenfold-2013Avenged Sevenfold and Korn will be the heavy hitters atop the seventh annual Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival tour, hitting the First Niagara Pavilion on July 26.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. April 4. The "GET OFF YOUR ASS" ticket special for the first 72 hours is all lawn tickets $20 and $5 off reserved. (

The festival features bands on four stages, including the return of rapper Ice-T's Body Count and Suicide Silence fronted by All Shall Perish's Hernan "Eddie" Hermida (replacing singer Mitch Lucker, who died in a motorcycle accident).


Avenged Sevenfold


Asking Alexandria



Cannibal Corpse

Suicide Silence

Miss May I


Texas Hippie Coalition

King 810


Body Count featuring Ice-T

Upon A Burning Body*

Veil of Maya*

Darkest Hour*

Headbang Local Winner



Ill Nino




*bands rotating slots



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Pittsburgh Festival of New Music details

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

Over the summer, I wrote about the Pittsburgh Festival of New Music. Well, details of the festival have been announced, and it looks like an awesome few days of new-music-making. Check out details of the festival below, from the press release: 

Festival of New Music to transform Pittsburgh's soundscape May 22-25

Alia Musica Pittsburgh presents The Pittsburgh Festival of New Music, four days of public events spanning a wide range of contemporary chamber music, May 22-25. Framed by two unique musical events happening in unconventional venues throughout the city, the Festival includes performances by Pittsburgh's most active new music organizations, artists of national and international renown, and guests hailing from Chicago, New York, Michigan, and Houston.

May 22: Perfect Lives by Robert Ashley
Miniature operas staged in everyday locations

On March 22, New York collective Varispeed presents its acclaimed arrangement of Robert Ashley's seminal work Perfect Lives, a daylong crawling concert installed in sites throughout the city. As performers and audience members journey from location to location — a park, a bank, a church, a backyard — participants imagine a folksy, Midwestern town where the bank tellers know the captain of the football team, and everyone drinks together at the end of the night.

Originally conceived as a 7-episode TV opera, Perfect Lives debuted on the BBC in 1986. The piece weaves together overlapping subplots: an unspoken crime, an elopement, and the mischief of two itinerant musicians. Ashley, the composer of what Fanfare has called "nothing less than the first American opera," died in NYC in 2014. "He would have been 84 at the end of the month," says David Ruder of Varispeed. "He was a great guy and we miss him already. Doing Perfect Lives in Pittsburgh is going to have an additional level of catharsis & meaning."

May 24: Rzewski plays Rzewski
The composer/pianist performs a rare program of his own works
New Hazlett Theater, 7:30pm

American maverick composer and pianist Frederic Rzewski has made his home in Brussels since the 1970s. Now 76, his appearances in the US are less and less frequent. Compared by turns to legendary pianist Glenn Gould and blacklisted folk singer Pete Seeger, Rzewski's works are often anarchic, sometimes satirical, and always powerfully virtuosic.

Rzewski's first-ever performance in Pittsburgh is long overdue, as he has Pittsburgh ties -- his two sons, Daniel and Alexis, live here. "When I was talking to him during his last visit," says Federico Garcia-De Castro, director of Alia Musica, "and mentioned our plans for the Festival, he realized, right then and there, that he actually had never played in Pittsburgh before. I knew that I had to take the chance." See this not-to-be-missed performance at the New Hazlett Theater on Saturday, May 24, 2014, at 7:30pm.

May 25: Inuksuit by John Luther Adams
Drums, gongs, and glockenspiels transform Lake Elizabeth Park, 2pm

Scores of musicians converge on Lake Elizabeth Park in Pittsburgh's North Side to perform Inuksuit, by John Luther Adams, 2012 receipient of the Heinz Award. Inuksuit is meant to be played by 99 musicians dispersed in a large outdoor area, using an incredible array of instruments including conch shells, air raid sirens, gongs, bells, shakers, drums, cymbals, and glockenspiels.

Inuksuit is the ultimate environmental piece, designed to heighten our awareness of the sights and sounds that surround us every day and to energize our experience of our own environment. The work, "a sonic and scenic glory almost beyond description" according to critic Alex Ross, has been performed around the world — in Melbourne, Toronto, Chicago, Berkeley, Lisbon, the Hague, and Belo Horizonte, Brazil — and was recognized among the most memorable performances of 2011 in New York City by The New Yorker, Time Out New York, and New York Magazine.

May 24: The Pittsburgh Soundpike
The pay-as-you-exit event that encourages discovery
New Hazlett Theater, 2pm

Pittsburgh's lively new music scene has a dedicated place in the Festival, as the most active local organizations join forces in a marathon concert dubbed The Pittsburgh Soundpike. Groups include Trillium Ensemble, the Black Orchid String Trio, Directions Duo, the Eclectic Laboratory Chamber Orchestra (ELCO), and features a performance of Steve Reich's monumental Different Trains by the Freya String Quartet. "We wanted to create an ideal setting for audience cross-over and mutual discovery," says Garcia-De Castro about the novel marathon concept where listeners pay for their tickets as they exit the performance, and the price depends inversely on the length of their stay—the more groups they hear, the less they will pay.

Additional Programs
Alia Musica Pittsburgh and the Bugallo-Williams Duo

Also at the New Hazlett, the festival presents the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo (Thursday, May 22). Consisting of Pitt professor Amy Williams and Argentinean pianist Helena Bugallo, the duo made a place for themselves as the foremost interpreters of Conlon Nancarrow's music, and have recently turned to the piano-duo music of Gyorgy Kurtág. Their Festival performance also includes music by Williams herself, Garcia-De Castro, and more.

On Friday, May 23, Alia Musica Pittsburgh performs Luciano Berio's famous cycle of Folk Songs in its entirety, with New York-based soprano Jamie Jordan. The ensemble, entering its eighth year of performances, also presents music by University of Pittsburgh professor Eric Moe, CMU and Pitt graduate Matthew Heap, and Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas.

Major support for the Festival comes from The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation. Other partners include the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, the Sprout Fund, and Music on the Edge. Outdoor events are produced in partnership with the Office of Public Art, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, and James Simon's Sculpture Studio. The City Paper is media sponsor of the Pittsburgh Festival of New Music.

Thursday May 22, Perfect Lives (Varispeed), episodes at 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm, 9pm, 11pm. Starting at Market Square, venues across the city. Free.

Thursday May 22, 7:30pm: Bugallo-Williams piano duo. New Hazlett Theater. $10. Music by Kurtág, Williams, Garcia-De Castro, and more.

Friday May 23, 7:30pm: Alia Musica Pittsburgh. New Hazlett Theater. $15. Music by Berio, Heap, Moe, and Haas. Featuring Jamie Jordan, soprano, and Houston's Duo Scordatura.

Saturday May 24, 2pm: Pittsburgh Soundpike featuring Steve Reich's Different Trains (Freya String Quartet), plus performances by Trillium Ensemble, Black Orchid String Trio, Directions Duo, ELCO, Alia Musica, and members from the CMU Contemporary Ensemble.

Saturday May 24, 7:30pm: Rzweski plays Rzewski. New Hazlett Theater. $15.

Sunday May 25, 2pm: Inuksuit by John Luther Adams. Lake Elizabeth Park. Free.

Sunday May 27, 5pm: Guests' Concert: Duo Scordatura (Houston), Clocks in Motion (Michigan). New Hazlett Theater. Free.

Bugallo-Williams: $15
Alia Musica Pittsburgh: $15
Rzewski plays Rzewski: $15
Pittsburgh Soundpike: $5-$15
Two-event pass: $20
Full festival pass: $40

Tickets will be available online starting April 10th.

412 361 0194

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Filling in at the last minute

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

Happy Opening Day! In baseball, there are often last-minute shuffles to the lineup, and athletes need to step up their game in replacing stars. It's true of classical music, too; one of the genre's most enduring traditions is late substitutions. When Bruno Walter withdrew from a New York Philharmonic concert, he helped launch a young Leonard Bernstein's conducting career. When tenor Vladimir Kuzmenko fell ill during a Pittsburgh Opera performance of "Aida" in 2008, music director Antony Walker sang the role of Radames instead, even while he was still conducting. (Mr. Kuzmenko lip-synched from the stage.) 

This past weekend continued that illustrious tradition. Tenor Eric Barry took on a few extra performances of "La Boheme," another Pittsburgh Opera production. Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra music director Manfred Honeck filled in at the last minute for an ailing Gustavo Dudamel to lead the New York Philharmonic in works by Claude Vivier and Bruckner. His performance received a rave review from New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini. Props to all, and happy opening day!

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'Noah' easily floats to No. 1

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .


“Noah” more than stayed afloat, coming in at No. 1 for the weekend with an estimated $44 million. Above, Russell Crowe in the title role. 
Early numbers from Rentrak also show “Divergent” holding strong, adding another $26,500,000 to its estimated gross for $95,260,008 so far. 
The box-office trackers points out that religious themed movies are three for three, with “Son of God,” “Noah” and “God’s Not Dead” all performing well. Still to come is “Heaven Is for Real” and, later in the year, “Exodus: Gods and Kings" (title has been tweaked, apparently) with Christian Bale. 
Here are the weekend estimates: 
1. “Noah” — $44,000,000.
2. “Divergent” — $26,500,000, for $95,260,008 since its release. 
3. “Muppets Most Wanted” — $11,373,000, for $33,210,000 so far. 
4. “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” — $9,500,000, bringing its total to $94,908,813.
5. “God’s Not Dead” — $9,075,421, bumping its running total to $22,028,439. 
6. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” — $8,825,000, for $24,456,815. 
7. “Sabotage” (starring Mt. Lebo native Joe Manganiello) — $5,330,000.
8. “Need for Speed” — $4,335,000, for $37,753,000. 
9. “300: Rise of an Empire” — $4,300,000, bumping its gross to $101,145,414. 
 10. “Non-Stop” — $4,086,975, for $85,167,150 to date. 
This weekend, the big title will be “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Also expected to open in Pittsburgh are “Le Week-End” with Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan and Jeff Goldblum, and “Frankie & Alice” starring Halle Berry and Stellan Skarsgard. 


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Lake Street Dive wins crowd with showy chops

Written by Scott Mervis on .

LakeIf you work in an office, with mature adults, you may have heard them freaking out about Lake Street Dive because they saw them on "Letterman" or "The Colbert Report or the star-studded Showtime "Inside Llewyn Davis" concert.

The novelty here is that Lake Street Dive puts a jazz singer trained at the New England Conservatory of Music in a bouncy pop/R&B format. The band formed there so they all have jazz chops to spare.

On the band's first trip through it played Club Cafe. On Saturday, Lake Street Dive sold out Mr. Smalls, a venue not perfectly suited to the style. LSD -- as they hashtag it -- ideally should be experienced in a fancier room, something like the old Balcony in Shadyside, with tables and cocktails.

Nonetheless, people seemed to be in good spirits Saturday, especially with frontwoman Rachael Price declaring it one of the biggest shows they've played.

With or without Lake Street Dive, Price is going to be a lot more famous than she is now, likely for long time, because there are a lot of women who can belt out this kind of stuff, but she has the raw ability and the training plus the look and now the backing of T-Bone Burnett. She sang the National Anthem next to Kevin Spacey in "House of Cards." Watch for a World Series or Super Bowl in her future.

Based on the record and the Smalls show, though, I'm still not totally sold on the band. Yes, Price can bring it live and her partners are versatile, able rock moderately or flip to straight-up acoustic jazz combo, with Mike Olson moving impressively from electric guitar to trumpet.

The downside for me is that Price, who draws comparisons to everyone from Amy Winehouse to Etta James, doesn't let many notes go without reminding you that she majored in jazz. It's awfully showy for these songs that often border on clunky, cliched and even a little annoying. And yet catchy! It's understandable then that a sold-out crowd would go wild for "You Go Down Smooth" (with her staccato handclaps) or the signature-changing "Seventeen" or Bonnie Raitt-ish "Bad Self Portraits" (title track of the new album).

Late in the set, Lake Street usually does The Jackson Five "I Want You Back" cover that helped break the band on YouTube. Saturday night, it shelved that for a smoky "Let Me Roll It" from the McCartney catalog.

If all goes well, expect Lake Street Dive in a bigger venue next time, likely the Byham, where the band's talents can be enjoyed in a more relaxed setting.

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