Live Music: Under the Stars
Burgettstown, Western Pennsylvania
It was fifteen years ago when the arena now known as Post Gazette Pavilion opened in Burgettstown, PA. Located less than 20 miles from the Pittsburgh airport, close to what is commonly known as the panhandle, it is conveniently located not only for concertgoers from western PA but also from Ohio and West Virginia. It is only 41 miles from Wheeling, West Virginia and 129 miles from Cleveland, Ohio.
Recently some terrific friends treated me to box seats for Aerosmith. The stage had a runway through the middle of the front section of seats to the front of the boxes. I was in the second box from the center. Aerosmith used the runway a lot too, beginning with the first song. It was an awesome experience to be that close to the second biggest mouth in rock and roll. But I’ve had many awesome experiences at Post Gazette and one doesn’t have to be that close to the stage.
I remember well when the idea of building an outdoor concert pavilion was first proposed for the area. My friends and I were thrilled because we were aggravated with standing in lines and camping out for tickets only to find that the concert was going to be sold out. This new arena would hold about 26,000 and concerts would be rain or shine. There would be lawn seats. You were allowed to carry your blanket and pick your place.
There isn’t a bad seat anywhere, the acoustics are terrific, and there are video screens. I’ve sat all over the lawn and under the pavilion and even been lucky enough to score a memorable “first row” seat for David Bowie.
It was the third concert of the very first season. Bowie’s equipment had completely blocked our seats. So they transferred us to newly placed chairs right in front of the regular seats. We were so close that we felt his sweat spray and saw when he painted on a mole during the break.
I’ve been backstage at Heart and right up front with Stevie Nicks. I danced with The Grateful Dead and also with Further, The Other Ones. I was there when the management discovered their mistake in serving beverages in paper cups. It was a Skynrd concert and the audience wanted Free Bird so much that everyone lit their drink cups. There I stood amidst all those flaming torches. It was surreal. Of course, they never used paper drink cups again.
Post Gazette Pavilion has grown from those early fledgling days when it was called Star Lake Amphitheater, and all they served was one kind of beer. Today, you can get all kinds of beverages including fancy martini cocktails and coolers. There’s an updated menu. You can’t carry food or beverages inside but they have continued the tradition of allowing tailgating in the parking lots.
There’s even a bus service ($13.50) from seven various pick up points, including Station Square which is only a short subway ride from downtown Pittsburgh hotels. Someone spending a night or several in the vicinity of the Pittsburgh Airport could take the local bus service to one of the pick-up points and catch the shuttle.
There is music for most tastes – rock, country, alternative, pop, rap. During the season, which begins in the spring there is an event scheduled most nights of the week until September. And most nights, there are lawn seats available, sometimes for as little as $15. You can rent binoculars or bring your own. Lawn chairs are for rent too. The bottom line is that the Pavilion is located in a beautiful valley that holds the sound and whether you kick back on your blanket under the stars or go for the big glory right up front, the sound is good and that’s the main reason it works. I’ve had friends say they wouldn’t sit on the lawn but when they actually experienced it, they were well pleased.
If you are a music lover and in western PA for one night or several, catch the info at www.starlakeamp.com where you can find the events, directions, bus schedules, FAQ’s, and buy tickets.