Last weekend, we were fortunate enough to be able to cover Thrival Festival. The 2-day music festival marked the end of a week long string of events that all centered around innovation in the city of Pittsburgh. Over 25 musical acts performed across 2 stages, as well as featuring local artists and vendors.
The site, which was an old mill, had not seen humans in 20 years. However, that all changed on September 25th! Thousands of fans gathered to celebrate their love for both music and their city. There was plenty to do in between acts such as eating at one of the many food trucks, a painting station, or just simply relaxing in the perfect fall weather.
Our Friday started at 4:25 PM with strong female-fronted performances by the beautiful Adia Victoria, Cathedrals, and K. Flay.
— Beyond The Stage (@BTSPress) September 25, 2015
At this point, we took a short break to walk around the venue. The sun was just starting to set and the lights were coming on. The mill lit up a gorgeous red with the Thrival logo projected onto it, making a wonderful photo op for all of those in attendance. We also grabbed dinner from one of the many great choices of vendors before shooting the next act!
Up next were singer-songwriter Strand of Oaks, and self-proclaimed “Sultan of Summer” Viceroy. Having these musicians play right after each other really showed the variety of music that the creators of Thrival chose to bring to the festival. Covering genres from rap to rock and everything in between, there was something for everybody.
By 7:45 PM, the crowd had really started to grow in anticipation of the first of the weekend’s headliners, Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness. McMahon, best known for his work in Jack’s Mannequin, played to a very enthusiastic crowd. The highlights of the performance included McMahon singing his heart out from on top of the piano and the giant balloons that simultaneously popped in the audience releasing confetti into the air. We will definitely not be forgetting that anytime soon.
Next up was D.C. based rapper, Wale. Not having witnessed many rap shows live before, we were pleasantly surprised with the amount of pure energy in the crowd even before he came on stage. “I’m so nervous! I feel like I’m about to meet my husband or something for the first time,” yelled a woman from the front row. Boasting an impressive 4.35 million followers on twitter, it was no surprise that he definitely has fans hooked.
The final band of the night was Panic! at the Disco. As expected, there were people camped out at the stage’s barricade for hours before, as the band is known for having very dedicated and passionate fans. Brendon Urie, lead-singer and only remaining member of the original group, yet again gave an unbelievable vocal performance. Playing songs from all of their albums had old and new fans singing along to every word. One of the most memorable songs of the night was definitely their cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, as well as their most famous single, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.”
We arrived for day 2 and was greeted with beautiful blue skies and looked forward to another great day of live music.
— Beyond The Stage (@BTSPress) September 26, 2015
First up was local Pittsburgh band, Nevada Color, and Brooklyn indie duo, Oh Honey.
Following them were pop singer-songwriter, Verite and synthpop group Panama Wedding.
Up next was Pittsburgh native, Kevin Garrett. By this time, there was a beautiful sunset to accompany his beautiful voice, we even caught a couple slow dancing in the crowd! Fans of Sam Smith should definitely check him out.
— Beyond The Stage (@BTSPress) September 26, 2015
San Fermin followed and instantly had the crowd captivated by their incredible sound and unique instruments, including an electric violin, saxophone, and trumpet. Those combined with powerful vocals really made this group very unique and interesting.
The first headliner of the night was Canadian pop artist, Lights. Known for her unique sound and style, Lights defintely did not disappoint. Her catchy songs such as fan-favorite “Toes” had everyone dancing along and her stage presence was incredible. I’m sure she left Pittsburgh with many new fans.
Next, Wu-Tang members, Raekwon & Ghostface Killah took the stage to chants of “WU! WU! WU!” from the crowd. A packed photo pit combined with the passionate fans made for an unforgettable experience. However, easily the most memorable moment for most people would have to be when they brought up children from the crowd to the stage. A beautiful speech about being able to be whatever you want to be led into a 10-year-old boy free-styling his own rap in front of hundreds of people all looking on in disbelief.
Finally, indie rockers Manchester Orchestra closed out the entire festival to another huge crowd. They were a wonderful end to a wonderful weekend of music.
Pittsburgh isn’t known for being a major festival city, however this year’s Thrival Festival is definitely going to put them on the map. The atmosphere was something we never experience from typical shows. There were couples, families, and friends laying on blankets during the day and dancing with glow sticks at night. We consider this event a huge success and cannot wait to see what they have in store for us next year!