Sound Scene Express

Deutschtown Music Festival Gets Better Every Year

Poster by Joe Mruk
Photos and recap by Whitney Lerch

The 5th annual Deutschtown Music Festival rocked the North Side July 14th and 15th, like only DMF can do. Over 200 local bands, food trucks, vendors and thousands of people descended upon the 30 stages scattered throughout the neighborhood for one of the best weekends of the year. With that number of live music performances in a roughly 36 hour time-span can leave a person feeling incredibly overwhelmed and pressured to strategically plan out their stage hopping, in order to take in as much of the festival as possible.

In an attempt to both experience the music and provide coverage for as many bands as possible, I chose to hit up several stages during each set time, despite how difficult it was to walk away after only a few songs from each of the artists I was able to hear. Of the 9 (I think) stages that I made it to (some of them on multiple occasions), I have to hand it to the Pittsburgh Winery for creating one of the best ambiances for the weekend at their satellite/pop-up stage #1, in the space that was once the Double R Cafe. With graffiti laden walls and some pretty incredible pink and purple lighting in the back room, where the bands performed, I could’ve spent the entire weekend at that stage. But I knew there was so much more to experience, so I took in Buffalo Rose for the first time, who simply won my heart, and returned throughout the weekend for The Incandescents and Bindley Hardware.

Sofar Sounds teamed up with DMF for a secret show on Friday night, that took place in the festival greenroom, upstairs at Max’s Allegheny Tavern and featured Change Rose, William Forrest and Sluggs. The three Sofar performers, all unique and quite different from one another, were a perfect ending for the first night of the festival and I left looking forward to another Sofar Sounds show in the future. The show went on that night, but with a full Saturday lineup ahead of me, I called it a night early on Friday.

Saturday came and I started off my day with Molly Alphabet on the Park Stage. Molly has long been one of my Pittsburgh favorites, so I had to catch her during the best Pittsburgh music festival of the year! As I traveled from the Main Stage after the Shelf Life String Band, back to the Park Stage again for Pet Clinic, I stumbled upon a wildly fun group that I wasn’t familiar with, the Colonel Eagleburger’s Highstepping Goodtime Band. They stopped me in my tracks as they took over Foreland Avenue, with their eccentric and highly energetic marching band and I certainly wasn’t the only one who was enamored by their performance.

Eventually, I made it back to the Park Stage, where Pet Clinic was well into their set and despite some technical sound issues, played on and kept the festival going even when the speakers didn’t seem to want to participate. I kept moving, again trying to take in as much of the festival as possible and hit up a few new stages on Saturday, including the Blacksmith Studio where Zoob started his set off with my favorite from his catalog of incredible work, SOS. Morgan Erina filled the room at Arnold’s Tea, and Paddy The Wanderer turned the Pittsburgh Winery pop-up stage #2 into a party, releasing balloons into the crowd, to be tossed around as they played to the rambunctious room.

There were many more that I was able to catch at least a partial set from (images below), but towards the end of the night, I parked myself at the Main Stage for Grand Piano, Wreck Loose and Nevada Color, who closed out the outdoor stage as they played to a sea of people that filled Foreland Avenue, seemingly so far back that people might have fallen off the edge of the earth. The festival for me was more than I could have ever hoped for and based on the sheer volume of people that flocked to the North Side to experience their own version of this incredible weekend long party, full of wonderful, local musicians, organizers Ben Soltesz, Cody Walters and Hugh Twyman certainly have nothing but full hearts and I can’t imagine they’ve stopped smiling yet.

Of all of the incredible accomplishments that the festival has had over the years, I think that one of the most impressive feats is that despite literally thousands of people, food trucks, pets, 200+ bands and pop-up stages both indoors and out, as swiftly as it all moves into the community for these 2 lovely days of celebration…it all quietly moves out, leaving not a single piece of rubbish, not a single broken bottle, not a single trace that anything had happened at all, by Sunday morning. The amount of effort that the Deutschtown Music Festival organizers, bands, attendees and volunteers put into respecting the community and cleaning up the evidence is simply astounding. You all deserve a shout out for the amazing work!

Alex Mendenhall

Bay Allen

Bindley Hardware Co.


Buffalo Rose

Clay McCleod

Change Rose

Colonel Eagleburger

Emerson Jay

Essential Machine

Grand Piano

JD Rau

Jordan McLaughlin

Molly Alphabet

Morgan Erina

Nevada Color

Paddy the Wanderer

Pet Clinic

School of Rock

Shelf Life String Band