Beer and Clothing (and Music) in East Allegheny – Deutschtown Music Festival 2019

(To be clear, this piece is not about alcohol or apparel–although, at the festival, I did enjoy a few beers and buy some clothing from the awesome Ooh Baby–I just really needed to make that admittedly terrible Hunter S Thompson pun)

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“How is it that you guys can’t just make us a flatbread?!”

The bearded bro’s head cocked menacingly at that moment’s target, a bartender who most assuredly had nothing to do with the status of flatbread production that day. Beardo and his clean-shaven companion had obviously worked up quite an appetite after viciously complaining about their wives for the previous 30 minutes, and seemed flabbergasted that their preferred food option was unavailable. Of course, they chose to order nothing after receiving the flatbread news, because pettiness is stronger than hunger. This scene took place last Saturday (7/13), right next to my perch at Penn Brewery, an establishment located on the edge of the Troy Hill neighborhood on Pittsburgh’s North Side, where I was seated, waiting for local producer and singer Princess Nostalgia to perform.

The occasion? The 7th annual Deutschtown Music Festival.

The reason I chose to spotlight this event first? It was really the only negative from a great weekend, and nothing even came of it. Figured I’d get it out of the way early.

“Bro, my idiot wife just doesn’t understand how smart I am. I’m, like, really smart. Watch me eat this flatbread whole, dude.”

The Deutschtown Music Festival is a free, weekend-long event organized by the Northside Leadership Conference, featuring a number of mostly Pittsburgh-area artists playing at a patchwork of small and large venues, many of them nontraditional. It’s a semi-secret event hiding in plain sight; a tourist strolling a few blocks away from the Festival’s main drag (which included a few main stages, a beer garden, and a sea of food trucks leading down Foreland St to Redfishbowl’s Artist Village in Allegheny Commons Park) might not have known that anything special was going on.

It’s festival-as-puzzle, limited instructions included, where it’s up to you to piece together your ideal lineup. If Italian postmodernist author Italo Calvino had included a “Music Festivals” section in the poetic, meditative Invisible Cities–a 1972 book in which Calvino slyly describes fantastical cities in terms of ideas and emotions rather than streets and landmarks–he may have written about something resembling the Deutschtown Music Festival.

I spent the weekend dashing back and forth between linoleum basements, smoky bars, and secluded gravel parking lots, scribbling and circling all over my crumpled event brochure like some conspiracy theorist chasing frantically after the traces of a faintly-rumored, musical Shangri-La, one that might fade away any second so that Atlantis has time to soundcheck.

It’s not like there was a lack of music to choose from; music curator Hugh Twyman (of hughshows.com fame) selected close to 400 artists this year, the most in festival history, covering styles from hip-hop to heavy metal, bluegrass to shoegaze. The only limitations placed upon an intrepid festival-goer were time and space themselves. Want to experience the dreamy sonics of Erie, PA’s Optimistic Apocalypse at 8 PM over near the west end of the Commons? Well, you’ve got to run a mile in 85 degree heat, senses not yet recovered from the deafening metalcore show from which you just emerged onto Chestnut St, shaking your dazed head. Tinnitus is nigh. Not to mention that local R&B singer Sierra Sellers is performing at the same time, on a main stage located much closer to you. Sometimes, tough decisions need to be made.

The best-laid plans of Bored In Pittsburgh…were subject to last minute time and venue changes

Despite having to call a few audibles, I was able to stick fairly closely to my hastily drawn plans, a rare occurrence for me.

Over the next week or so, I’m going to try and spotlight some music from each artist that I had the pleasure of seeing at the Deutschtown Musical Festival.

Note: It occurs to me that I should’ve taken pictures while I was at the festival; I’m still new to this blogging thing, so I was mostly in “fan” mode rather than “work” mode over the weekend. I’ll have to cobble something together for the purposes of this series and work on finding a camera-person for future projects (although something tells me I might have a lead there…more on that later).   

Schedule for artist-specific posts (highly subject to change, as I have tickets to see my hometown Phillies play the Pirates on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; I may skip out, though, on one, two, or even all three of the games because the Phillies are a putrid pile of suckitude at the moment)

   

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