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Bryan concert draws mellower crowd than Chesney shows, observers say

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Saturday, June 21, 2014, 11:06 a.m.
 

Even on the longest day of the year, Andrea Savage — clad in boots and a cowboy hat, and perched on the flatbed of a Chevy pickup — wished she had a few more hours to tailgate with her friends.

“This is my favorite day of the year,” said Savage, 22, of Peters, who attended the Luke Bryan country music concert on Saturday evening at Heinz Field with seven of her closest friends. “We got our beer last night and got here at 11 a.m. so we'd have all day. I only wish this day was longer.”

Fans in denim shorts, tank tops, flannel shirts and cowboy hats began to fill North Shore parking lots early Saturday under cloudy skies and mild temperatures for a summer concert at Heinz Field by rising star Bryan.

Despite a show expected to draw an estimated 50,000 people, the pre-concert revelry was more subdued, people said, than last year's Kenny Chesney summer concert, during which fans left behind 45,000 to 60,000 pounds of garbage in North Shore streets and parking lots. Last year, Pittsburgh police arrested or cited 73 people, and paramedics treated 150 in and around Heinz Field.

This year, concertgoers got trash and recycling bags and appeared to be using them. Police had a heavy presence before and during the concert, which began at 6 p.m. Officials reported one arrest, a couple of fights and a few injuries.

“People are still drinking and having a good time, but it doesn't seem as crazy as previous years,” said Mike Radcliffe, 41, of Morgantown, W.Va. “That being said, there will always be people who drink too much.”

Pittsburgh Public Safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said final tallies of arrests and citations would not be available until late Saturday.

“It's definitely cleaner than it was last year. People aren't just throwing their trash on the streets. They're using the bins and bags,” said Ryan Callahan, 25, of Delmont, Westmoreland County.

Erik Carlberg of Mt. Washington was selling cowboy hats at the corner of Reedsdale Street and Tony Dorsett Drive. Prepaid parking passes that fans purchased with their concert tickets helped control the rowdiness, Carlberg said.

“It's a little bit less rowdy, but definitely in full spirit,” he said. “Compared to previous years, the crowd is younger and business is slower.”

Officials lined the sidewalks with 120 portable toilets, up from 80 last year. Concert-goers complained this still was not enough. Lines extended several people deep, and people were seen using the woods behind the D.L. Clark Building.

“This has all the excitement and fanfare of a Steelers playoff game, but there's nothing on the line, no final score to worry about,” said Michelle Pavlik, 38, of Morgantown. “It's really just a lot of rednecks listening to music and having a good time.”

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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