Thrival Innovation & Music Festival
September 25 & 26
Photos & recap by Randy Jarosz
Like any festival, organizers can only hope that it grows every year, in size, quality of bands and if they’re lucky, venue space. Thrival Festival has accomplished all three feats, but most impressively their new location tops that list. The fest in its first two years put to good use the Bakery Square venue, but the vision for the third year would have never happened in this small space. Not with two massive stages, laser lights and the ability to pack in 10,000 concert goers.
Sticking to the spirit of Thrival and Innovation, organizers turned to a site that was vacant for twenty years and recycled it into something contemporary. The word Thrival splashed at the top of the LTV Coke Works building along with sponsors, while the bottom half of the building was lit up bright red, a view that was impeccable for fans as well as artists. The cities skyline could be seen off in the distance greeting attendees.
Organizers hit the nail on the head with this years line-up, pairing Pittsburgh’s hottest local bands in Grand Piano, The Commonheart and Beauty Slap with the likes of hot indie acts like Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness where Andrew McMahon known for his days with Jack’s Mannequin, led a fun set with massive balloons that filled the stage but later was released to the crowd exploding into confetti. Shortly after McMahon brought out a parachute like the ones they use in kindergarten, to get underneath and greet fans.
Wale was up next giving shout outs to Pittsburgh, mentioning his time at Robert Morris University. He pumped up the throng of people before calling Wiz Khalifa on the phone to hear how loud his hometown crowd is. Wale leads an energetic emotional set greeting fans on several occasions in the front row and hopping around stage while never missing a beat.
Panic! at the Disco closed out day 1 of the festival ripping through 19 songs. It was pretty evident that many were there to only see the quartet perform as they showed up in full force. Brendon Urie was on fire the entire night dancing and playing to his fans. Urie has been teasing a fifth studio album and played “Hallelujah,” the first single from the forthcoming release. Other favorites included “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage,” “Nine in the Afternoon,” closing out with “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.”
Day 2 saw the homecoming of Pittsburgh native Kevin Garrett. Garrett and his band are unassuming and unless you already new who he was, you were in for a big surprise after hearing his incredible vocals. Early on, a supporter from the crowd shouted “Keep it sexy Kevin.” To which he responded “Uh,ok,” some what embarrassed. Garrett currently lives in Brooklyn but is undoubtedly still proud of his home town giving shout outs throughout the night, including to his mom saying “look mom i’m on the big screen.” Garrett played favorites from his first EP “Mellow Drama,” and turned some heads with his new material.
San Fermin is one of those surprising acts that have the ability to blow you away with their live show prowess. Lead singer Charlene Kaye and Allen Tate compliment each other immensely. A band theta calls themselves baroque pop may not sound very exciting at first but after watching the horn section blow your mind, you’ll be instantly hooked. San Fermin are touring in support of their sophomore album “Jackrabbit.”
Another artist that many in attendance may have been unfamiliar with is Lights. The female singer songwriter from Canada will be sure you know who she is after her rambunctious set. She’s a true pop gem with undeniable stage presence. Lights played to her fans performing “The Last Thing on Your Mind,” from her 2008 debut EP and “Up We Go,” from her 2014 “Little Machines,” release.
Raekwon & Ghostface Killah are legendary performers best known for their days in Wu-Tang Clan. After being a couple decades removed from their hey day with one of the best hip hop groups of all time, comes new fans, and their were plenty in attendance for this set. In fact the duo brought a bunch of youngsters on stage and even handed the mic to a 10 year old who handled his own in front of the massive crowd. Raekwon & Ghostface Killah ripped through a set of Wu-Tang and solo classics, while hand sign W’s filled the air.
Manchester Orchestra closed out the 3rd annual Thrival & Innovation Music Festival with a loud and raucous set. Lead vocalist Andy Hull commented on playing after one of his favorite hip hop groups of all time. They played songs like “Pride,” “Iv’e Got Friends” and “Cope.”
The folks at Thrival put together a great festival once again with a one of a kind venue. Year four will be just as interesting with likely a new venue in the works after development begins on this years site. Guess we’ll have to see what is up their sleeve for 2016.