2014 Pittsburgh Year in Review
Though we said goodbye to 2014 two weeks ago, its highlights are still on our mind. Pittsburgh experienced a lot of change, and its rapid progression into America’s darling, despite still being perceived as an underdog, is what gives it much of its charm. Join us as we relive some of 2014’s most important moments, which were compiled by examining our most popular articles of the past year, as well as some of our personal favorite events and happenings around town.
Lawrenceville’s Row House Cinema was a welcome addition to Butler Street, jazzing up a retired storefront while giving non-residents a better reason to visit than the neighborhood’s nightlife. The adjacent Atlas Bottle Works and soon to be open ex-Homestead restaurant Smoke round out this perfect date night trifecta. Pittsburgh’s very first Escape Room has been booked solid since its November 7th opening. Wigle Whiskey expanded to its second location, a Barrelhouse on the North Side, while Bar Marco’s intimate Wine Room made its debut. The Pittsburgh Juice Company helped to boost the city’s healthy living profile, whereas Bella Christie opened its second bake shop a few blocks down the street. One also can’t ignore the abundance of barber shops catching on with the younger crowd, who are opting for tighter, more sculpted ‘dos than in years past. Another trend impossible to ignore are the number of microbreweries popping up, such as Braddock’s Brew Gentlemen, Squirrel Hill’s Independent Brewing Company or Upper Lawrenceville’s Roundabout Brewery.
Though crowded, the duo of DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist touring together was a once in a lifetime show to hit Pittsburgh, and had everyone talking. Spoon‘s performance at Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead coincided with an early season Steelers game, but that didn’t stop fans from coming to hear them play tunes from their highly praised 2014 release. Jack White’s outdoor show at Stage AE sold out months in advance, making it practically impossible to snag a ticket day of show from scalpers without paying an outrageous price. Fleetwood Mac’s long-awaited reunion tour with Christine McVie made a stop at Consol Energy Center, as did Arcade Fire, who encouraged attendees to go all out and dress up, generating quite the spectacle. 2014 was undeniably rock songstress St. Vincent‘s year, which found her breaking out into larger venues, headlining festivals and landing a spot on many year-end lists as the year’s best performer. Her Stage AE appearance was a testament to her success, as the venue was a serious upgrade in capacity compared to other clubs she’s played locally in the past. And finally, Wiz Khalifa’s three consecutive Mr. Smalls sellouts were the perfect homecoming for the rap star after a long tour.
What would another year in Pittsburgh be without awesome parties? Monster Trike Night made Big Wheels acceptable for adults to ride, supplying residents with a dose of wholesome fun on a Saturday night. Round Corner Cantina’s Friday night Gold Series events and monthly boozy Urbanist brunch parties brought a vibrancy to the space all summer long. VIA kicked off a killer 2014 festival with a bangin’ opening party at Cattivo, which featured a mix of local talent, Baltimore club DJs and Vogue Pittsburgh dancers, giving everyone a taste of the underground. The city’s premier queer-friendly event, Honcho, had a very sexy pool party at the Mt. Washington Party Pad, bringing together a mix of gay and straight for a scantily clad good time. No Pittsburgh party list would be complete without mentioning the steam Hot Mass has been picking up. Their weekly afterhours parties are some of the city’s most talked about underground events, bringing in crowds of 200+ with lines out the door on a consistent basis.
National storytelling series Moth StorySLAM’s Pittsburgh host, Alan Olifson, brought together Pittsburgh’s best storytellers for WordPlay, a show he transplanted from LA and co-produced with Bricolage. Local hip hop duo Grand Buffet revived their amazingly hilarious Pittsburgh Batman show at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, tweaking it for a larger stage and adding characters for another string of consecutive sell-outs that had audiences to their knees with laughter. Quantum Theatre’s standout production, Tamara, continued to forge a path in the progressive trend of interactive local theater, wowing audiences with their participatory programming and unforgettable acting.
Attack Theatre’s Dirty Ball continues to outdo itself every year with its unique brand of outlandish and artistic, blending impromptu dance performances with unlimited booze, all the fancy party snacks one could want, and multiple themes. The Mattress Factory’s Urban Garden Party got extra wild in 2014, transforming the Mattress Factory into a scene straight from a spaghetti western. The Q Ball celebrated its 10th anniversary, and the Carrie Furnace held a unique event to save its 40′ historical landmark, the Carrie Deer.
Pittsburgh’s long awaited shift in leadership began with Mayor Bill Peduto’s transition into office and new Police Chief Cameron McLay’s takeover after a shady period of leadership, which left our former Police Chief in jail. Pittsburgh continued to make strides in becoming one of the country’s most bike-friendly cities by rolling out a new infrastructure that included our first two-way protected bike lanes. And finally, in a monumental ruling, Pennsylvania became the 19th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
The pool of local talent in Pittsburgh’s art world continues to blossom. Ian Brill’s Plume exhibit at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts served as a prime example of the city’s shining pool of creativity, creating a spherical wonderland of color and light. Seth Clark’s groundbreaking Studio Direct program helped forge a relationship between artists and patrons, requiring buyers to pre-pay for pieces as a way to fund his art projects. The end result was a thriving studio practice, inclusion in Pittsburgh’s 2014 Biennial, and the title of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts’ Emerging Artist of the Year. Lawrenceville’s newest gallery, Revision Space, launched a successful opening, and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust celebrated 10 years of gallery crawls. The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the Office of Public Art joined forces to produce Congregation, an outdoor high-tech multimedia art installation in Market Square that had visitors, residents and commuters sticking around after dark to check out the spectacle.
Cycles of birth and growth are normal for any city. People come and go. We will miss friends Katie Mallis, former Timebomb homie and Streetheart designer, as well as illustrator Matt Gondek, both of whom contributed art to our web design over the years. The city has also bid adieu to Kevin Sousa for the most part, who closed Station Street Hot Dogs in the fall, retired as chef for Garfield’s Salt of the Earth, and sold off Union Pig and Chicken to focus on a new project in Braddock. Another successful local establishment we’re sorry to see go is Fukuda, whose sushi was some of the best in the city. Lastly, we can’t forget about the FUZZ DNB crew, who ended their 13-year run at the BBT in Bloomfield over the winter.
Whether you’re the type to embrace change, dwell on things lost, or only look to the future, one thing’s for certain: 2014 was a hell of a year. Congratulations to all the people doing things to make Pittsburgh America’s most livable city and one that we can be proud of.