American Authors, food trucks headline Bigelow Bash

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American Authors, food trucks headline Bigelow Bash

By Alex Leighton / Staff Writer

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Three weeks after the official beginning of spring, students sang, danced and ate on Bigelow Boulevard, ringing in the first spell of warm weather.

About 500 people on Saturday attended Bigelow Bash, Pitt Program Council’s free annual spring concert, according to Pitt Police officer Guy Johnson. The festivities between 2:30 and 7 p.m. featured rock band American Authors and local food trucks. New England-based synth-rock band Magic Man and PPC Battle of the Bands winner O’Hara opened for American Authors. 

“We’ve been on the road for two years straight, and we’re taking a break,” said Zac Barnett, American Authors’ lead singer. “But we made an exception today. We wanted to spend Saturday with you.

Although the Bash is primarily a music festival, many crowd members convened to fill their stomachs.

“Nobody would be here until much later if it wasn’t for the food trucks,” said Steven Abriola, a senior majoring in biology. “By far, it’s made a difference.”

The food trucks, which replaced the face painting and photo booth activities of past years, packed the bottom half of the Boulevard for most of the afternoon.

PPC members stamped students’ hands and provided them with enough tickets for a sample of food from each of the 11 trucks.

The food trucks included Burgh Bites, which features Italian, new American and barbecue, the Pittsburgh Pierogi Truck, Franktuary and PGH Crepes. 

Big Poppa’s Home Cooking, which served chicken and ribs, South Side BBQ Company, Oh My Grill, which featured grilled cheese, and Saucy Mamas Italian Food Truck were among the carts with the longest lines of customers.

Kim Nguyen, the Pitt Program Council’s special events director, said the council searched for Pittsburgh-based trucks to include at Bigelow Bash.

“I wanted this to be local, to bring more to the students,” said Nguyen, a senior majoring in marketing and business information systems.

While enjoying the free food, large crowds surrounding the stage sung along with the bands. Not all students were standing, however — many preferred to lie on the lawn outside the William Pitt Union or sit on the Cathedral steps. 

The bands’ volume alerted people even at a distance from the Boulevard of the event. 

Max Ungar, a Duquesne student who was in Oakland, said he stopped by to see what the fuss was about, and he decided to stick around for the whole show.

“It seemed like a cool place to hang out,” Ungar said. “I don’t usually go to concerts. They cost a lot of money.”

Shawn Cassidy, PPC’s arts and film director, said the food trucks may become a permanent fixture of Bigelow Bash.

“Seeing how successful it is, there’s no reason [for them] not to,” Cassidy, a junior majoring in film studies and business, said before the headliners took the stage. “This is a big crowd for the openers.”

O’Hara, a local band of Pitt students, opened the festivities. The self-described “feel-good indie alternative” band earned its spot in the limelight after winning PPC’s Battle of the Bands competition on March 18.

“It’s incredible to be on stage, to hear people sing back to you,” Garrett Grube, the band’s drummer, said after their set.

Boston synth-rock band Magic Man performed next, going through a set of energetic songs. Their cover of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” sparked a mass sing-along.

“It’s spring time, baby!” yelled the band’s lead singer Alex Caplow.

American Authors played a set featuring their hits, including “Believer” and “Oh, What a Life.” They also played an unreleased song, titled “Nothing Else,” that will appear on their next album, which is unannounced. 

The band ended the evening with its radio hit, “Best Day of My Life,” modifying the lyrics at the very end to include a “Go Pitt” chant. 

Sing-alongs and romantic offers spotted the show, as hands raised immediately after American Authors lead singer Zac Barnett posed a question.

“We’re still trying to figure out who’s my date for the formal,” Barnett said.

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