Stage AE creates ‘intimate’ atmosphere during concerts
Published: Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:09
With seven concerts scheduled next month, Stage AE is prepared to make its debut on the North Shore as an intimate venue with a unique twist – both an indoor and outdoor entertainment complex.
Although the outdoor amphitheater, which seats 5,500 people, is smaller than other Pittsburgh venues, Stage AE offers a closeness that other venues may not achieve.
"From the top of the lawn to the center stage, the average person would be able to throw a baseball and nail the lead singer if he wanted to," said Pat Lucas, director of marketing and ticketing operations at PromoWest North Shore. "It's very intimate. It's very cozy, but it has a real good vibe about it."
Stage AE, named for its sponsor, the Pittsburgh-based local retail store American Eagle Outfitters, is located on the North Side parking lot on the east side of Heinz Field. Construction of the venue began in March when PromoWest Productions agreed to promote the venue, and the Steelers and Columbus-based Continental Real Estate Companies bought the building.
The venue will break in its indoor concert hall on Friday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 4 with Pittsburgh native Gregg Gillis, better known for his dance tracks and musical mashups as the disc jockey of Girl Talk.
Point Park University student Melissa Lucas is one of the many college-aged members attending the Girl Talk show at Stage AE on Saturday, Dec. 4.
"I'm pretty excited. I've heard a lot of good things about Girl Talk shows," said Lucas, a senior liberal studies major. "You get a mix of everything you'd ever want to hear all at once … from Hall & Oates to Big Boi."
In addition to Girl Talk, on Monday, Dec. 6, Stage AE and radio station 105.9 The X will host "The X's Kickass Christmas," featuring Cake and Anberlin.
"Cake's getting a lot of play right now and Anberlin is a hot new young band, so we put them together and we've got the ‘X's Kickass Christmas,'" Pat Lucas said on the decision to bring the two alternative rock bands together onstage.
George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic will be bringing back '60s soul music on Friday, Dec. 10, followed by Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa on Thursday, Dec. 16 and Friday, Dec. 17. Khalifa sold out tickets to both of his concerts.
Local sensation The Clarks will wrap up the month of December with their 2,000th concert on Wednesday, Dec. 29.
Stage AE's indoor concert hall, which holds up to 2,400 people, is composed of a large pit for people to dance and enjoy the music, a raised level behind the pit with restrooms and a bar, a balcony for corporate boxes and rows of bleachers behind the boxes for people to have a seat and rest.
For the indoor concerts, only general admission tickets can be purchased because there is no seating in the pit.
"We want to make it a real concert experience - the way concerts were back in the '60s and '70s. In a lot of cases, they were standing room only," Lucas said. "There's that camaraderie. The people next to you are strangers, but you have a shared bond - the affection for that same musician and that music."
In addition to creating a warm atmosphere during concerts, Lucas said PromoWest also hopes to utilize the indoor venue for Steelers' tailgate parties, corporate events and rentals for weddings, proms and similar celebrations. With a goal of organizing 30 to 35 outdoor concerts and 75 to 100 indoor concerts on an annual basis, Stage AE could be used approximately 150 nights per year.
With less than a month remaining before the Girl Talk concert, Stage AE is undergoing final renovations, from interior painting to putting up siding on the exterior, as well as distributing the American Eagle logo throughout the venue.
"We think it's come together pretty quickly," Lucas said. "If you went to that space, say, eight months ago, it was a parking lot."
Around 30 people will be hired for the upcoming indoor concert season, and representatives from Stage AE came to Point Park on Tuesday to provide employment information to students. The venue will hire security guards, bartenders, servers, cooks, cashiers, cleaning and repair crew, production and marketing interns, and box office and ticketing workers.
Doug Herrmann, general manager of Stage AE, said working at the venue would be a great opportunity for college students because it has a fun atmosphere, it is a yearlong job and the hours of operation typically do not interfere with students' class schedules.
"For the most part, concerts are done with by eleven and you're out of there by midnight, so you can still wake up and go to class in the morning," Herrmann said. "Music is pretty important to how [people] define themselves … so it's an exciting, meaningful experience."
For more information on the venue, to find tickets or to apply for a job at Stage AE, visit www.promowestlive.com/pittsburgh.