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Animal Scream, Forestry Division, Big Blitz headline 2024 Northside Music Festival

A group of five people play musical instruments on a stage.
Joey Spehar
Chet Vincent and the Music Industry perform at the 2023 Northside Music Festival.

The Northside Music Festival returns next weekend with more than 70 Pittsburgh artists performing at different venues in one of Pittsburgh’s most historic neighborhoods. The festival has a long history, starting as a bar crawl before evolving into a massive showcase of artists and bars and restaurants reaching deep into outlying, often overlooked North Side neighborhoods.

Festival organizer Ben Soltesz (who’s also my neighbor) said of the festival, “How is this free? The 2024 Northside Music Festival continues to be the street party of the summer, with over 70 of Pittsburgh's best bands and some great out-of-towners gracing the streets and nearby bars and clubs of the Northside. We've got it all: outdoor bars, numerous food trucks, an artist market, and kids’ activities on Saturday. Don't miss it!”

While trying to decide who to see can feel overwhelming, in my experience, sometimes it’s best to just let it rip and see what unfolds around you. However, if the thought of diving into a massive music festival with no plan makes you quake with anxiety, I’m happy to offer some suggestions.

The festival kicks off Friday, July 12 at 6 p.m. with performances from Big Blitz on the main stage, The Roof at the 91.3 WYEP Stage, and Koz at CNH Javor, the longstanding Croatian social club on East Street. If you come down a little later, I suggest seeing psych-rock band Animal Scream at the Allegheny Elks Lodge at 8 p.m. They were our Pittsburgh Artists of the Year in 2023, and always craft a unique show full of dark twists and turns — but also lots of bright sunny sounds and sentiments.

Friday night has a great lineup at Fat Cat on East Ohio St. with sets from Norside Organ Trio, Sleeping Witch and Saturn, and the dark wave, goth grass band Dichro.

If you can’t make it down on Friday night, plan to spend the day on Saturday. We’ll be there in our tent all day giving away cool prizes — so come and say hi! We’ll have a stage at Allegheny City Brewing with performances from the legendary Weird Paul Rock Band, Dan Petrich and the Back Row Kings, and Beagle Brothers, among others.

Also on Saturday night (July 13), be sure to catch the final performance from Forestry Division, a band that used to be called Andre Costello and the Cool Minors. They’re always set on crush mode and it will be sad to see them go. When they’re done, I’d wander down to the Allegheny Elks Lodge for a set from Chet Vincent and the Music Industry to cap off the night.

If skull crushing rock and roll isn’t your thing, there will be plenty of singer-songwriters at Allegheny Center Alliance Church starting with the inimitable Morgan Erina, ethereal folk punk Orange G, classical guitarist Danny Rectenwald, and a whole lot more.

If you see me out, please do say hi! I’m happy to offer more recommendations, too, since Pittsburgh music is one of my favorite things in the whole world. We’ll see this weekend dahn the North Side!

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.