Mahler’s massive work
Some pieces of music are so massive that they can stand alone. Mahler’s massive Symphony No. 9, as the composer’s last completed symphony a musical “Auf Wiedersehen” of sorts, falls into that category — not only for its sheer length (about an hour and a half) but also for its emotional saturation. Led by music director Manfred Honeck, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will perform that work, and only that work, at 8 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. If more varied compositional offerings suits your taste, Saturday’s 8 p.m. show will instead feature Scottish composer James MacMillan’s “Woman of the Apocalypse” (which the PSO recently played at Carnegie Hall), Beethoven’s Romances No. 1 and 2 with concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley, and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4. All concerts are at Heinz Hall, Downtown. $25.75-$105.75, 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org.
Sundown in Burgettstown
Brad Paisley opened the First Niagara Pavilion season three weeks ago, and now Tim McGraw follows on his “Countdown To Sundown” tour.
The country star who’s given us such hits as “I Like It, I Love It,” “Live Like You Were Dying” and “Southern Voice” is on the verge of releasing his latest Big Machine album, “Sundown Heaven Town,” in September and has already unveiled the singles “Meanwhile Back At Mama’s” and “Lookin’ for That Girl,” which he played on “The Voice.”
“After doing this for 20 years, the challenge is always to find new ways to top what you did the last tour,” McGraw said in a statement. “This summer is all about getting as close to the fans as possible and creating that connection with them, so we can really get to know each other and feed off that energy. Fans this summer are going to get to hear some new songs off the new album too, which is cool because I’ll get that immediate feedback that only a live crowd can provide.”
He will joined by Kip Moore and Cassadee Pope at 7 p.m. Tickets are $43.50-$69.50; ticketmaster.com.
Ray LaMontagne, who broke out in 2005 with folk-blues song “Trouble,” returns to Stage AE Friday with the more electrified “Supernova,” produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.
The fifth album is still rootsy while also going into psychedelic territory on songs like “She’s the One” and the title track. Rather than sounding so much like a singer-songwriter record, he’s note that he wanted the vocals to be “more a part of the overall sonic palette.”
He said in a statement that the songs “give me a chance to play more electric guitar, which I love to do. But I’ve always had such good players on stage, and so many of my songs are keyed into what I’m doing on the acoustic guitar. So I’m really looking forward to being able to set the acoustic down for half the set, finally. That will be a nice feeling.”
The Bell Brigade, an LA indie-pop duo made up of siblings Barbara and Ethan Gruska and compared to everyone from the Eagles to Haim, opens the show. Doors at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35-$55; www.ticketmaster.com.
Black Ice at Alloy
The Pittsburgh Hip Hop Collective will explore the roots of hip-hop — spoken word and poetry — at its monthly “Word=Life” at 7 p.m. Friday at the Alloy Studios in East Liberty.
Black Ice, from Def Poetry Jam, will perform along with Pittsburgh-based poets Vanessa German and B-Tree. Rapper Jasiri X hosts the event which will follow an “open mic” format.
According to the Collective, “The city has seen a lot of rappers but very little culture here, which is troubling for the genre’s future.”
Admission is $5. For more information please visit 1Hood.org, RareNation.com, facebook.com/PittsburghHipHopCollective.
Market Square dance
The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the Pittsburgh Chapter of USA Dance present Ballroom Dancing in Market Square every Friday afternoon in June from 5 to 7 p.m.
It will feature free ballroom dancing instruction, as well as performances by students and professionals from local dance studios. It begins Friday with instructor Chris Drum, DJ Brian Lee and performances by Chris Drum Dance Team and USA Dance.
Citiparks’ Riverview Park Heritage Day on the North Side features rare birds from the National Aviary, furry friends from the Animal Rescue League and Humane Society, pony rides, totem pole painting and more.
The Citiparks Roving Art Cart will offer crafts, families can tour the Allegheny Observatory and enjoy free refreshments.
“Wheels on Parade” allows children to bring along their bikes and gather at 1 p.m. on the Chapel Shelter lawn to join costumed puppet figures and high-stepping musical characters to wheel through the park grounds.
It runs from noon to 4 p.m. in Riverview Park. For more information: 412-255-2493 or www.Citiparks.net.
The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater presents the Sixth Annual Full Bloom Summer Dance Party at 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty, at 9 p.m. Saturday.
The annual dance party and benefit will feature: J. Malls of TITLE TOWN Soul & Funk Party, DJ Vex spinning beats all night, a VIP reception with exclusive perks and soul music by DJ Lovelife, an outdoor concert with Vie Boheme, and special performances by Continuum Dance Theater, aerialist Kelsey Keller and opera by REDMOOSEPRESENTS. The event also will include a photo booth, pedicab joyrides and special art activities.
The VIP reception begins at 7 p.m. For tickets, $35 dance party, $125 all-access VIP, www.kelly-strayhorn.org or www.eventbrite.com.
The Pittsburgh Bonsai Society holds its 33rd annual free show at the Phipps Garden Center Saturday and Sunday, with miniature works of living art displayed in the traditional Japanese style, along with vendors selling bonsai trees, tools and supplies.
Visitors can learn about the techniques used to create bonsai, ask questions and bring in their own trees for care and styling advice. There will be styling demonstrations at 11 a.m. both days.
Also, Pittsburgh musician Steve Sciulli will be perform a rare solo Japanese Shakuhachi Flute transmission during the shows.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday behind the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, 1059 Shady Ave., Shadyside.
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s second annual Tony Awards Viewing Party, a local celebration of the best of Broadway, begins with a red-carpet entrance to the Cabaret at Theater Square in the Cultural District.
Doors open at 7 p.m. as theater fans gather to watch the live broadcast from Radio City Music Hall on a big screen and cast votes for best actors and shows. Broadway-inspired cocktails, trivia and prizes are part of the package that is $25 for Pittsburgh Cultural Trust members and $35 for nonmembers. Reservations: 412-471-3548.
Going head-to-head with the Arts Festival is the inaugural Mountain Top Music Festival, an all-day music festival in Grandview Park, Mount Washington, presented by the Max K Agency.
The lineup of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia bands features Cold Fronts, Legs Like Tree Trunks, Nevada Color, DRGN King, Kevin Garrett, White Like Fire, Gypsy & His Band of Ghosts, Partly Sunny, Influx, Skull Kid, Bat Zuppel, and Unraveler.
Gates open at noon and it runs from 1 to 10:30 p.m. There is a $10 suggested admission. Search “Mountain Top Festival” on Facebook.
Equality on Ellsworth
PrideFest, presented by The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, parties in Shadyside from 4 to 10 p.m. with Equality on Ellsworth.
It features Charice, Marsha Monster Mellow, Vanessa German (spoken word artist), DJ B-Tips, the Re-52’s (B-52’s Tribute Band), Phat Man Dee, and local drag queens and kings. Suggested donation of $10 and tickets can be ordered at www.deltafoundation.us/tickets.
• The free Citiparks Cinema in the Parks series opens with Kevin James wrestling for dollars in the comedy “Here Comes the Boom” Saturday at Grandview Park, Mount Washington, and Sunday at Flagstaff Hill, Schenley Park. “Now You See Me,” a thriller starring Mark Ruffalo and Jesse Eisenberg, screens in Riverview Park, Observatory Hill, on Saturday. All screenings are at dusk.
• Roger Humphries plays the Citiparks “Stars at Riverview” Jazz Series at Observatory Hill, Riverview Park, at 7 p.m. Saturday, prior to the “Now You Can See Me” screening.
• Chicago blues band Lil’ Ed and the Imperials plays the free concert at South Park Amphitheater on Friday with opener Jill West & Blues Attack. On Sunday at Hartwood Acres, it’s Pittsburgh Southern blues band 28 North with 7Horse. Both shows are at 7:30 p.m.
• Dreamy indie-rocker Nicole Atkins, about to tour with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, opens the SummerSounds series in Greensburg’s St. Clair Park at 7 p.m. Friday.
• The Mall at Robinson will host A Jam with Drake Bell at 1 p.m. Saturday. There will be a meet-and-greet with the “Drake & Josh” star and a performance featuring his new rockabilly album “Ready Steady Go!,” produced by Brian Setzer. Guests will enjoy sweet treats, mini-manicures, makeovers and a photo booth. It is free.
• West Hills Honda hosts a Summer Cycle Celebration at its Moon location Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring a custom bike show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.) and an appearance by the cast and bikes of Velocity TV’s Cafe Racer TV show, including Mike Seate and custom bike builder Blake Kelly. It’s at 209 Moon Clinton Road. Available at www.westhills-honda.com.
NEED TO KNOW
• Pittsburgh power-pop band Meeting of Important People opens the First Fridays at The Frick concert series on The Frick Pittsburgh’s Great Lawn at 7 p.m. Friday. A donation of $5 per adult is suggested. Guests are invited to come early and create a gourmet picnic with selections from the Cafe at the Frick, which begins serving at 5:30 p.m. For info, call 412-371-0600; TheFrickPittsburgh.org.
• Fresh from touring with Imagine Dragons and playing Coachella, The Naked and Famous headline Stage AE tonight with White Sea. The New Zealand electro-rock band, fronted by powerful-voiced Alisa Xayalith, is touring on its second album, “In Rolling Waves.” Doors open at 7 p.m.; Tickets are $20-$25; ticketmaster.com
• Philly punk band The Menzingers, touring on the new album “Rented World,” plays Altar Bar at 7 tonight with Buffalo’s Lemuria, fellow Philly punks Cayetana and Toronto’s PUP. Admission is $16.
• Rowdy New Jersey punk/indie rockers Titus Andronicus roll into Cattivo, Lawrenceville, for an all-ages show tonight at 7 with Baked and Roger Harvey & The Wild Life. Tickets are $17; www.druskyent.com.