Pavilion season short but rewarding
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The concert season is Burgettstown will end with a bang on Sunday when Kiss fires off its last load of pyro.
It will cap a 23rd season started a little later this year, beginning at the end of May with Drake, and is ending early with a full Labor Day Weekend slate of the Uproar Festival, Rascal Flatts and the hard-rock feast of Kiss and Motley Crue.
"It was a killer season at First Niagara Pavilion," says Michael Belkin of Live Nation Pittsburgh.
OK, so it didn't rival one of those early '90s seasons with 40-plus shows, but in an era when the big outdoor amphitheater has been in decline, it did check in with 18, which is three more than in 2011.
Last year, the venue was only sold out twice: Jimmy Buffett and rising country star Jason Aldean, doing his first headlining gig there.
Those two artists packed it to capacity once again, as did the Dave Matthews Band (one night), Toby Keith and the dynamic duo of local rappers Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller on the 11-city Under the Influence of Music Tour.
Other big draws included Phish and the Zac Brown Band, in a first headlining slot that looked like it could be the beginning of a tradition.
"We had solid numbers from every other act," Mr. Belkin says, adding, "From the opening show with Drake, to Big Time Rush in August, to the closer with Kiss/Motley Crue, every genre was covered, and each one sold well."
If you were to tally the genres, it would be:
• 5 country shows (Jason Aldean, Toby Keith, ZBB, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts)
• 3 jam-rock (Phish, two DMB shows)
• 3 classic rock (Kiss/Crue, Def Leppard/Poison, Chicago/Doobie Brothers)
• 2 metal (Mayhem, Uproar)
• 2 rap (Drake, Mac/Wiz)
• 1 punk (Warped)
• 1 teen-pop (Big Time Rush)
• ... and then 1 Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band, which could almost fit into the top three of those categories -- but holds no appeal for anyone associated with any of the others.
Live Nation does not release attendance figures, but the minimum attendance seemed to be in the 10,000 range, and there didn't appear to be any major busts like last year's season-opening Avalanche Tour with Stone Sour.
What didn't we get at First Niagara? There were a handful of quality shows that Mr. Belkin's Cleveland-based Live Nation office placed at the similar-size Cincinnati or Cleveland venues, including Radiohead, Sugarland, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Journey and Jason Mraz.
Maybe someday Radiohead will play Pittsburgh again.
First Published August 30, 2012 12:00 am