Strip District Music Fest
January, 16, 2016
Pittsburgh, PA -Strip District
Strip District Music Fest wasn’t quite the scene Joe Mruk’s hand drawn fest t-shirt depicted, with a blizzard along Penn Ave. Instead the weather cooperated for the 2nd annual outing boasting over 20 venues and 150 bands. The festival which is said to have attracted more than 10,000 people is organized by Josh Bakaitus, Vice President of Drusky Entertainment.
Pittsburgh and local musicians are lucky enough to have 2 other festivals similar to SDMF showcasing local talent in historic neighborhoods. What sets this one apart from the others is the time of year. Sure, 80 degree weather and no threat of snow in July and August is ideal, but in January there is no competition pulling your attention in different directions. At this point cabin fever is setting in and we’re itching to get out and that showed Saturday with another great turnout. Bakaitus also saw this festival as an opportunity to bring business to the Strip during a slow time of the year.
The fest is free but the bands have the potential to make some money through a donation website where fans can give what they want. 75% of the donation goes to the band while 25% is reinvested in the festival. Donations are still being tallied but overall went better than last said Bakaitus.
“It’s important to me that the event remains “free.” This was a solution for bands to be compensated while only having minimal sponsorship dollars and no ticket charge. The donation process was much better this year but I think there is still room for improvement,” he continues.
SDMF is centered around The Altar Bar, a 650 capacity former church, and extended to multiple venues along Penn Avenue. The Altar Bar had huge turnout crowds for heavy metal acts like Greywalker and Dethlehem while slowing down the pace with Balloon Ride Fantasy, Meeting of Important People and Nevada Color toward the end of the night.
Plantscape Warehhouse on 31st Street at the complete opposite side of the strip may have had the strongest lineup of the day, starting with The Hawkeyes at 2pm and finishing with Donora at 11pm. Other big names included Daily Grind, Fist Fight in the Parking Lot and Bastard Bearded Irishmen.
26th Street Market and Cafe hosted some of the top up and coming bands like Katie Hate, Denzell and Chase The Monkey before closing out the stage with veterans Pet Clinic, while a couple blocks away the Pittsbugh Winery had Eastend Mile, Memphis Hill and The Commonheart.
“I think the hardest thing this year was the pressure from the success of year one. I put a lot of energy into it this year to make sure it exceeded 2015, admitted Bakaitus. With added venues and a more diverse linup along with bearable weather it’s fair to say Strip District Music Fest 2016 was a success.
You can catch four festival favorites in Nevada Color, The Commonheart, Balloon Ride Fantasy and Chase The Monkey Saturday, February 6 at James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy for Sound Scene Express’s “Best of 2015” Rock Awards. Doors open at 8pm for this all ages show. Visit the event page to find out more about the event including categories! https://www.facebook.com/events/1677950592481925/