Anti-Flag's 20th-anniversary concerts are part of another anniversary celebration: Mr. Small's, the 650-capacity venue in a former church in Millvale, is celebrating 10 years in operation.
What began as a skate park, venue and recording studio is now mostly just a venue: The skate park closed last year, and the studio's main space is now on the North Side. But it's one of the city's premier spots for a mid-sized show, and it's in the midst of another change: The area that was the skate park will now house a seven-day-a-week restaurant called The Funhouse.
"The studio was originally called Mr. Small's Funhouse," says owner Liz Berlin. "But then we opened the venue as Mr. Small's Theatre, and the "Funhouse" name kind of got lost. We're excited to bring that back — it'll be a fun atmosphere, with board games, Xboxes, all kinds of things."
The restaurant doesn't have an official opening date yet, but Berlin says she hopes to have the deck open for tours during the upcoming anniversary shows that booking partners Opus One Productions have scheduled between May 29 and June 14. Opus is bringing back plenty of old Small's favorites, like Lotus (whom Opus One manages, playing June 6 and 7), Punchline (the local pop-punk band that played the venue's first show, returning with The Starting Line on June 2) and Bloc Party (June 1).
Ten years out, it's fair to say that Pittsburghers' view of Millvale has changed some, and that's due in no small part to Small's.
"When we opened our first recording studio here it was 15 years ago," says Berlin. "It was just the place where we could find the cheapest rent. Then the opportunity to buy the old St. Anne's Church property came up, and we thought long and hard. Nobody knew where Millvale was at that point, even though it's five minutes out of the city.
"Mr. Small's Theatre is a destination; people come here from all around for the music, and I think it's really benefitted the community."