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Venue Menu

Concerts are one of my favorite things, and this fall, I’ve had the chance to see some great ones. This review of the last three shows I’ve seen visits an old Pittsburgh venue and takes you into two new spaces.

First up, Craig Finn at Club Cafe [1]. This Southside venue has hosted some great shows since 1999. Best known as the frontman of The Hold Steady, Craig was backed on this night by the Uptown Controllers. They hit the stage at 10, and put on an incredible show that any lover of rock and roll or live music would appreciate. It was a great reminder of what an intimate and cool venue Club Cafe is. The artists walk through the crowd as they take the stage, and play just feet away from most of the patrons for the entire show. If you haven’t caught a show here recently, pick someone to see and find parking on the South Side. It’s worth it.

Next, my teenage daughters and I saw Mt. Joy at the new Roxian Theater [2] in McKees Rocks. This venue promises to be a Pittsburgh favorite in the years to come. Already attracting established names like Bruce Hornsby, the Roxian is small but spacious, has a good beer selection, and is just 20 minutes from Lebo. The only downside is parking, but even that wasn’t too terrible. The up-and-coming band we saw, Mt. Joy, made a great impression on their fans, who were young and old. I suspect we will see them come through town again. Catch them if they do.

Lastly, I got to see a legend at a new venue. Bob Dylan took the stage at UPMC Events Center [3] in Moon at 8:03 on a Sunday night, while much of the audience was still stuck in traffic or hiking a mile from their parking spots. Two thumbs down on the venue, do not recommend. In addition to the traffic, the layout of the venue meant that the lights never fully went out behind me and other guests walked in front of my seat all night long. This place is not made for music, which was unfortunate because Bob Dylan is in great form these days. Anyone who saw his incomprehensible show in the SouthSide a decade ago would have found him refreshingly intelligible this year. He delighted his fans, even if he didn’t wait for them to take their seats.

Go see a live show this winter! Great venues like Stage AE, Club Cafe, and the Roxian mean you can see great shows at a reasonable price and often still be home by midnight. If you need someone to dance with, find me. I’ll probably be there.