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Your one-stop guide to Pittsburgh's live music scene
We've all done the thing where we're so excited for a band coming to town that we buy the tickets and have no idea where or what the venue even is. If this sounds like you, don't worry because this guide has you covered.
I've been to hundreds of shows in Pittsburgh at venues from bars to packed stadiums, and now I'm passing on that knowledge to you, fellow concert-goers. Join me for this exhaustive list of where to see live music in Pittsburgh and my tips and tricks for scoring tickets, where to sit, parking and much more:
Once a Catholic church, Mr. Smalls is a top live music venue perched atop the Millvale neighborhood that can do it all. You can see national acts in their main theatre (capacity is about 800) in the main theater space of this eclectic venue, then head down the hallways to The Funhouse, a repurposed skatepark-turned-music-venue that seats 175.
The acoustics in here are top-notch regardless of the type of band you're seeing, and everyone from Ziggy Marley and the Arctic Monkeys to GWAR and All That Remains have put on memorable shows at this truly one-of-a-kind venue.
Pro Tips: After you buy your ticket, add on the Balcony Experience for a unique view of the show that can be scaled up from seated individual tickets to private rooms for you and your friends with bottle service. The food here (located on the second level near the balcony) is stellar and reasonably priced. Use the bar way in the back of the venue for the quickest way to get a beer and back to your seat. Gristhouse and Strange Roots are both within easy walking distance to grab a brew before or after the show.
Roxian Theatre, which houses about 1,400, is similar in size to Mr. Smalls but with a completely different feel. This former McKees Rocks movie theater from the 1920s was completely gutted and modernized into a cutting-edge venue with unmatched sound and lighting for a venue of this size.
Seats and standing room here are all GA, so plan on getting to this venue when the doors open, especially if you want to snag the best spots and sightlines for the show. Gleaming bars wrap around the main floor and mezzanine and often offer themed cocktails or other specials depending on the show you're seeing. I've been here for electronic, indie, rock and punk shows, and am always wowed by how good bands sound here and how good my photos look.
Pro Tips: Get the parking pass or Uber. It can be difficult to find street parking in this neighborhood, so save yourself the headache. Also, look into the Roxbox ticket upgrade for a front row seat guaranteed on the main, elevated floor.
Many music venues have come and gone over the years in the happening nightlife neighborhood of the South Side (RIP Rex Theater) but Club Cafe has outlasted them all. The secret sauce? This intimate (seating for MAYBE 125 max) venue is intensely dedicated to bringing in national touring acts on an almost nightly basis. Add in the cheap cost of tickets (most around $15-18), a stellar list of local drafts and creative cocktails, and this is the perfect night out.
Pro Tips: Get there when the doors open and try to snag a seat as close to the stage as possible for the best, unobstructed views of the show. Bar seating makes it easy to get drinks, but likely you'll be peering around peeps to see the stage. Leave your coats in the car.
Another two-venues-in-one destination, Thunderbird Café and Music Hall in Lawrenceville rises higher on my list of favorite venues every time I see a show there. I'm in love with their Front Porch Stage, a completely stripped down stage made of recycled materials which features local acts, national musicians and a Bluegrass Night on Tuesdays. Up top, their 380 capacity venue has a surprisingly large stage as well as multiple bars as you enjoy indie, blues, jazz and funk among many other niche genres.
Pro Tip: If you prefer to sit for shows, look for the Lower Balcony ticket for shows in the larger Music Hall venue. Not only do you get seats, you get access to your own private bar. The smaller stage has plenty of seating throughout.
Have you noticed a theme yet? Spirit, also in Lawrenceville, is split into two spectacular live music venues raised from the dead of a former Moose lodge. Both the first floor Lodge and second floor Hall have full stages and sound great no matter where you're standing. Sometimes, events may sprawl between both levels with large parties for holidays or other special occasions filling both venues with DJs, emo, soul and plenty of other genres.
Pro Tip: The food here is great - snag a pizza or plenty of vegan options. Be sure to take a walk around the venue before you go in to see their mural covering the space, which is painted fresh each year with a new design.
Although City Winery in The Terminal might look like a small wine shop and dining area from the street, through the giant double doors lies the true treasure of this spot, a world-class entertainment venue. I've now seen live podcasts, music acts and comedy shows here, and this is quickly becoming one of my regular hangouts.
Why? City Winery does it all, and does it all exceptionally well. The ambience, seated at modern tables in front of an elegant stage and surrounded by wine casks, is completely unique. The food menu is sprawling and delivered fresh to your table the second it is ready, so you can snack throughout the show. Oh, and the wine is great, too (I especially like their pinot noir). Plus, I never even have to leave my seat to get topped off with another glass.
Pro Tip: When ordering your tickets, select the option to Have a Bottle of Wine Waiting At Your Table. It's that easy and doesn't require upfront payment. Then you can find your seats and immediately start sipping before the lights dim.
While many of the live music venues on this list have been old buildings reimagined into new spaces, Carnegie of Homestead is still serving its original purpose as a library, athletic facility and a grand concert hall to Homestead and surrounding neighborhoods. Seating around 1,000, at this stunning venue you'll be able to grab a drink, walk around a gorgeous library and then settle into your seats for the show in the opulent hall.
I've seen everything from comedy acts to classic rock groups here, and am always pleasantly surprised at how amazing all types of music and performances sound in this 100+ year-old venue.
Pro Tips: Bring a seat cushion, these seats can get a little uncomfortable. Balcony seating is lovely here, but be aware that seats on the left and right side face inwards towards the center of the venue, so you may need to watch the performance looking at an angle.
No frills and all about the music. Located on Penn Ave, this intimate and inclusive space has a great atmosphere, punk vibes and a simple raised stage to catch up-and-coming and local bands tear it up. One of my favorite places to check out hardcore, ska, punk, grunge and other artists you won't see in larger venues. Throw some stickers on the wall, buy some merch and keep local music thriving at Roboto.
Way back in 2005, before people had even invented the word "hipster," Brillobox established itself as the coolest bar for those wanting an elevated night out experience minus the pretension. Situated on Main. St right before Bloomfield turns in Lawrenceville, this venue promises a unique ambiance you won't find replicated anywhere else in the city and the bar menu to back up what all the hype is about. Head upstairs to their music venue for a variety of bands I am now far too old to know anything about and all seem way cooler than I'll ever be.
Pro Tip: For the Millennials among us, MySpace Nite (held monthly) is the best dance party in the city.
Head down the hill from Brillobox and into Lawrenceville to Cattivo, yet another alt-friendly dive venue that has been bringing live music to the city for decades. Head to their Obscure parties monthly that encourage you to let you freak flag fly as a variety of DJs play everything EDM from classic to modern genres. Their stage holds a variety of bands weekly, but especially focuses on the gothic, industrial and dark alt scenes.
Pro Tip: Skip their website and Insta. Find all of their upcoming events on Facebook.
Perhaps best known for their huge selection of vinyl, this record shop also manages to pack in a nice crowd with national musicians from noise rank to folk country to enjoy as you browse the wax. These owners live and breathe music, so I encourage you to explore every inch of this store and ask questions; you never know what you're going to uncover here.
Pro Tip: This is secretly my favorite coffee shop in Pittsburgh. Even if you're not into music, try it out when you're in the Northside.
Imagine you could transport right to a 70s bar in an iconic Pittsburgh neighborhood without needing time travel. You're in luck because Bottlerocket has all the wood paneling you'll ever need, and it's all original from the bones of the Allentown bar it was made from. What their owners have added to this time capsule of a bar is incredible live comedy, movie screenings and, most importantly for this blog, a kickin' music venue for everything alt and even vinyl release parties.
Pro Tip: If you go to a seated show, you can order your beer right from a QR code and have it brought directly to your seat so you never miss a minute. Can every venue start doing this??
Country fans, we have live music venues for you, too! Saddle up and head to Tequila Cowboy on most Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for a rotating mix of featured country artists from the Burgh and beyond. While this place plays both types of music (country and western) wander back to the karaoke bar and sing to your heart's content at this go-to party place.
Pro Tip: Even if you're just stopping in for a drink, the wall of guitars behind the bar and dog-musician mural on the opposite side are worth a visit alone.
In Pittsburgh, we love churches-turned-music venues. At This is Red, St. Michael's Slovakian Roman Catholic has been resurrected into the event space and concert venue. Highlights of this venue include an intricate rose window on the outside, an exciting second life for the original Brinkerhoff piano and mural-covered Grotto which all combines into perfect ambiance for shows that include jazz, experimental, electronic and more.
Neon purplish hues emanate from this new, upscale music venue in East Liberty that keeps local bands at the forefront. The same minds behind Howlers (now closed, but this used to be the best Bloomfield bar ever) opened up this fantastic brunch/event space/live music venue/restaurant/bar. Just follow the neon sign to their monthly jazz night, live band karaoke, reggae nights and much more live music fun.
After so many smaller venues went silent during the pandemic, I knew nature was healing when 222 Ormsby opened back up to live music in 2023. Prepare to two-step to Pittsburgh's best ska, punk, alt and more plus unique events like their Folk Punkapalooza in this lo-fi venue focused solely on the music.
Don't be intimidated by the graffiti and stickers covering every square inch of this Polish Hill venue, including the bathrooms. This is a fantastic punk bar that pulls in a supportive crowd and for a raucous, fun night of live music. Oh, and the food is dirt cheap and the portions are massive. What else could you need?
Pro Tips: This is one of few bars where you can still smoke inside. Don't miss the pinball machines and even a chess table in the back.
The stage is small, the entrance looks like a house and there's wood paneling all over the place. And, it's absolutely perfect.
I was initially so bummed out when Whisper Nest (one of my favorite Millvale Music Festival locations) was closing, but Poetry Lounge reinvented this space and made it even better. All of the decor and vibes I loved remained the same, but the new owners added even more live music and some exciting new cocktails to keep this a happening place for the local music scene in and around Millvale.
Pro Tip: Follow their Insta account for the weekly lineup of poetry slams, dance parties, DJs and live music.
Crafthouse is my go-to when I want a good meal, a big selection of craft beer and a fun night of music with my friends. I love getting here early and enjoying apps and drinks during the opening acts in the spacious bar and dining room, then moseying down to the 500-capacity stage for the main act. Crafthouse gets in a bit of everything, from local cover bands to electronic, country , alt and more, so keep an eye on their ever-changing events calendar.
Pro Tips: Wingerogies. Do I have your attention? Pittsburgh's favorite dumpling, fried and tossed with the wing sauce of your choice and served with ranch or bleu cheese. Mangia! Also, parking can get full here quickly, but don't park at business lots next door. Do street parking in the neighborhood instead where permitted.
With live music almost every night, Jergel's is another great example of buffeting your 500-person venue with a sit-down restaurant concept that makes this an all-night affair. Just in case you're not into the music that night, there's also an outdoor patio with fire pits, a cigar and scotch bar, and televisions everywhere to keep you occupied.
Pro Tip: Head up to the balcony. You can get almost directly above the stage for an unmatched view of the musicians and the sound is even better up there.
Pittsburgh's hardcore/metal scene is frankly one of the best-kept secrets in the city, and the rapid expansion of Preserving in New Kensington is quickly helping to change that. This now three-in-one venue, plus a record store, can do everything from the 800-person venue framed by stained glass in a reclaimed church to basement shows seating 300 and an intimate DIY space.
Despite the energy of the performances, the hardcore community is full of the nicest people I've ever met. So don't be afraid to get in the pit and be active during the show.
Pittsburgh's jazz legacy is a story we love to tell at VisitPITTSBURGH. While the most famous venues on the Hill District that helped spawn countless careers are now closed, Con Alma Downtown keeps this heritage alive. Every night of the week, Con Alma has world-class jazz musicians playing just feet away from a top-ranked bar and food that is consistently named one of the best bites in the Burgh.
Furthering our jazz legacy each month are the talented acts brought in by MCG Jazz, a 350-seat venue that brings in legends and emerging artists of the scene. MCG Jazz usually hosts a few shows per month, and audiophiles will love the attention to fidelity in this venue, which regularly churns out incredible albums and live recordings (albums produced here have won 5 GRAMMY awards).
As we transition into some of the bigger live music venues on this list, it's worth putting the spotlight on Stage AE, maybe the most perfect mid-size venue that's ever been created. During warmer months, this is the place to see tons of national touring acts outside and with a nice lawn space. During colder months, the indoor vibe here can still fit major acts with incredible sound fidelity and lighting, or scaled all the way down to their Club at Stage AE experience for smaller acts.
Besides Smalls and Roxian, this is the venue I probably end up going to the most. There's a huge variety of genres that pass through here and the live experience somehow manages to still feel intimate even with 5,000 others around you.
Pro Tip: Add the Quick Pass to your tickets and avoid waiting in line hours in advance to get to the front row for GA shows. This add on gives you your own line and easy entry to the venue.
The possibilities of live music and theatre surround you in the cultural district, but for a guaranteed good night out, Howl at the Moon should be your Downtown destination. This dueling piano bar brings hilarious and high-quality live entertainment and is perfect for those that want to dance and be involved with the show, plus a rotating list of drink specials and themed holiday nights also make it a great stop for parties, corporate events and more.
Baseball, apple pie, and Hard Rock Cafe. These American institutions have been around for a reason, and our Hard Rock location in Station Square offers beautiful city reviews, a variety of live music from local performers, unplugged brunch acoustic events, karaoke and more. Plus, you can't beat the views from our south shore for a scenic view of the city.
While most people think of casinos for gambling, drinks and great food, Rivers Casino also provides a ton of live entertainment to patrons. National acts like Styx and DJ Pauly D have filled their Events Center, but my favorite venue here is their Drum Bar accented by an 80-foot lighting feature. Free acts of Pittsburgh local favorites like Jeff Jimerson and Chris Higbee pack this events calendar, making your night out even more fun, even if you don't gamble.
With a permanent exhibit to August Wilson and rotating exhibits to other nationally recognized artists, the August Wilson African American Cultural Center also boasts an impressive 500-seat venue increasingly being used to bring even more live music to Pittsburgh. They kick off the Blues & Heritage Festival here yearly and their music series Soul Sessions brings in jazz, soul, funk, blues and other artists to this smaller venue where there's not a bad seat in the house.
Who knows what you might see in our vibrant Cultural District, full of gorgeous theaters that entertain with Broadway productions, magic shows and much more. Heinz Hall is the home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and this 2,600+ seat venue is a dream for concert goers with perfect acoustics and plush seating. This venue also will bring in national touring acts and holiday concerts, too.
The Benedum Center has been restored to its 1928 glory and is one of the poshest venues on this list. While home to the Pittsburgh Opera, this 2,800-seat venue also sees a variety of music acts perform here throughout the year. The Byham is smaller at 1,300 seats, and where you can see productions from the Bridge Theater Series, Pittsburgh Dance Council and Pittsburgh Musical Theater, but keep an eye on their events calendar for specialty concerts too, like a special Herbie Hancock performance in 2024.
And don't count out Greer Cabaret Theater, newly renovated and with ability to have inspired food and drink options brought to your table as you enjoy the show. There's free live music here weekly including jazz, quintets, drums and more.
The home of Pitt DI Basketball doubles as a 9,000+ seat venue for live music, and no matter which artist I've seen there, this place never disappoints. Despite being almost double the size of Stage AE, it still manages to feel like you're close to the artist no matter where you sit, and the venue lends itself to some of the more creative stage setups to make concerts here always just a bit more memorable than anywhere else.
Pro Tip: Don't wait in that huge line going downhill outside of the venue. Head to the other line that wraps around the building instead to save your calves.
The home of the Steelers also transforms into the biggest live music venue in the city for unforgettable shows from the world's top performers on the North Shore. Taylor Swift set the record here in 2023 when her Eras Tour brought in a whopping 73,117 Swifties on night two of her stay. When you want to see the biggest acts on the planet with amazing pyrotechnics and unbelievably stage setups, it doesn't get better than Acrisure.
Pro Tip: Leave the bags at home and give yourself time to get through the gates.
Crowds at the home of the Pirates range from 35-45k fans in attendance, with the stage usually placed in the outfield so seats can fill the infield and utilize all the normal seating for the show. You can expect to see a country concert or two plus a touring classic rock act here each summer, but the real winner here is always watching the sunset with our skyline as a backdrop.
Pro Tips: As far as food goes, this is one venue I highly recommend eating at! Stick to the outfield walls for my favorite stadium bites. Don't be afraid to go to a Pirates game and test out your seat and view to the outfield and avoid any sections that might have you turned more towards the infield.
The live music continues to fill Pittsburgh on a nightly basis. I've covered as many venues as possible that lend themselves to live music, but that doesn't mean you won't find great music other places.
Bars throughout the city often will have a DJ or rock act for you to enjoy, breweries will be jamming with as many live acts as they have food trucks, and oftentimes you'll find an artist just performing in Market Square for free.
And remember to keep an eye on our packed list of music festivals throughout the year which celebrate our unique neighborhoods and all of the musical influences that make our city special.
Hope to see you in the pit!