Best of Culture + Nightlife | Culture and Nightlife | Pittsburgh

Best of Culture + Nightlife 

Mars Jackson, winner of Best Local Hip-Hop Performer to be the Next Mac Miller - CP PHOTO BY LUKE THOR TRAVIS
  • CP photo by Luke Thor Travis
  • Mars Jackson, winner of Best Local Hip-Hop Performer to be the Next Mac Miller

Best Local Theater Company 

City Theatre
1300 Bingham St., South Side 
412- 431-2489 or

Housed in an old church off the main drag, City Theatre is a perennial Best-Of favorite. The focus here is on new plays by both established writers and rising stars, and the current 2016-17 schedule boasts works by Sharon Washington, Marco Ramirez and City Theatre favorite Jessica Dickey.

2nd: Pittsburgh Public Theater
3rd: Quantum Theatre

Best Gallery for Local Artists 

812 Liberty Ave., Downtown
412-325-7723 or 

It’s hard to miss this gallery as you walk — the letters S, P, A, C and E are written huge on its large windows — and it easily draws in passersby from Cultural District hangouts. This gallery offers new artists a highly visible space to display their artwork and reach new viewers. 

2nd: Most Wanted Fine Art
3rd: BOOM Concepts

Best Dance Company

Attack Theatre
2425 Liberty Ave., Strip District

In its 22nd season, Pittsburgh’s longest-running contemporary dance company is still going strong with high energy, choreographic smarts and a highly developed sense of fun that often incorporates audience input into shows. 

2nd: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
3rd: Texture Contemporary Ballet

Best Local Stage Production

Morose & Macabre’s Atrocity Exhibition

This annual showcase of the bizarre, the dark, the disturbing, held at the Rex Theater, is no traditional play: It’s more a blend of burlesque, sideshow, drag show and goth pageant, with a thematically apt crafts bazaar for good measure.

2nd: Venus in Fur, Pittsburgh Public Theatre
3rd: Serpentine, Uncumber Theatrics

Best Local Visual Artist

Durty Art

The love for ’80s hip hop that Bob Freyer, a.k.a. Durty-1, has is heavily reflected in his street-style art. He primarily works with aerosol paints and hand-made stencils, and his paintings have found homes with Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Talib Kweli and others.

2nd: Baron Batch

Best Literary Event

The Moth

The nationally known storytelling series (true stories, no notes) has three incarnations here: a monthly StorySlam; an annual Grand Slam, for StorySlam winners; and The Moth Mainstage, which showcases talented touring tellers to sold-out houses at the Byham Theater.

2nd: Pittsburgh Speaker Series at Heinz Hall
3rd: Literazzi at Cattivo

Best Local Comedian

Derek Minto

A pioneer of Pittsburgh’s resurgent comedy scene, Minto has starred in local comedy festivals, and opened for the likes of Hannibal Buress and Jim Breuer. His excitable persona’s a hoot, whether he’s talking about taking revenge on 8-year-old hecklers or confirming that it’s a good idea to keep your plasma.

2nd: Bill Crawford
3rd: Davon Magwood

Best Local Comedy Troupe 

Secondhand Sketch

This group, made up of comedians Derek Minto, Mindy Cooper, Andy Roos, Sarah Wojdylak, Ian McIntosh, Zack Roach, Rachael Wonderlin, and Nate Hall, does a combination of live and video sketches (filmed by Alex Murphy). Delving into culture, media and society, their performances include skits, musical numbers and monologues.

2nd: Knights of the Arcade
3rd: Amish Monkeys

Best Local Cartoonist 

Rob Rogers

With more than three decades of experience under his belt, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette editorial cartoonist has highlighted issues like gun violence and satirized the likes of presidents Bush and Clinton. We’re still fans of his depiction of former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl as a juice-box-carrying child.

2nd: Joe Wos
3rd: Ed Piskor

Best Local Photographer

Dave DiCello Photography

Downtown by night. Downtown lit by fireworks. The three rivers at dawn. The city ignited by lightning strikes. The city from the air. DiCello is a wedding photographer, but he’s also widely social-media’d for his iconic images of the town he calls home. 

2nd: Paul Falavolito Photography
3rd: Robert Lee Bailey Photography

Best Local Poet 

Terrence Chiusano

With a debut poetry collection out last year, Chiusano has burst onto Pittsburgh’s poetry scene with tremendous success. The Pitt grad’s On Generation & Corruption blends narrative with word-play, multi-parted forms and provocative language to tackle existential themes.

2nd: Terrance Hayes
3rd: Stephen Lin

Best Local Writer

Tony Norman

It’s no surprise to see Norman, a long-time columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, taking the prize here. For two decades he’s spurred conversations (and, more recently, lots of Facebook shares) with his thoughtful perspectives on pressing political and social issues, as well as thoughts on day-to-day life. 

2nd: Gene Collier
3rd: Damon Young

Anthrocon, winner of Best Local Annual Convention - CP PHOTO BY LUKE THOR TRAVIS
  • CP photo by Luke Thor Travis
  • Anthrocon, winner of Best Local Annual Convention

Best Local Annual Convention


For one wacky weekend in July, Downtown Pittsburgh is invaded by a large-scale menagerie of furry characters. There are wolves, cats, bears, foxes, dogs and more — but not the four-legged kind. This convention celebrates two-legged furries, folks who dress as anthropomorphic animals from art and literature.

2nd: Steel City Con
3rd: Handmade Arcade

Best Pop/Rock Band 

Nevada Color

Indie pop, as it’s done by Nevada Color, is an airtight, winsome thing. With two releases since 2013 — and a much-anticipated follow-up forthcoming — this Point Park University-bred five-piece has grown into one of Pittsburgh’s most reliably catchy and energetic acts.

2nd: OGWS
3rd: Donora

Best Metal Band 


Those magnificent armor-wearing bastards have done it again. The fantasy-metal band, whose members dress like knights and sell personalized foam swords on their website, are again the best metal band in the city. Lift your glasses in jubilation! Huzzah!

2nd: Greywalker
3rd: Solarburn

Best Alt-folk/Alt-country Band 

Justin Fabus Band

There’s no denying the roll that 29-year-old Justin Fabus and his band are on. (They are currently touring.) They might sound a bit mainstream country, but that can’t hurt: The band signed a record deal in February and played at the CMA Fest, in Nashville.

2nd: The Hills and the Rivers
3rd: Molly Alphabet

Best Jazz/Blues Band or Performer

Phat Man Dee

Phat Man Dee is a force on stage. She often croons her playful songs in collaboration with other Pittsburgh artists, burlesque dancers and drag performers. She also uses her low tones to perform classic jazz tunes, as well as songs she pens from her life experiences.

2nd: The Olga Watkins Band
3rd: Avi Diamond

Best Local Hip-Hop Performer to be the next Mac Miller 

Mars Jackson

Jackson, who grew up in the Hill District, is a proud Pittsburgh hip-hop artist. You can hear it in his rhymes, you can see it on his videos, and you can hear it when he talks about the local hip-hop scene: “If I can do my music and live here at the same time and touch people, that’s what I’m gonna do.”

2nd: SIKES
3rd: Hardo

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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