PittCon – The Saturday Night Special

Post and Photos by Kim Prior

I have written several articles about the Saturday Night Special and my love for these events. I don’t think I could find the words to say it any differently this time – I simply love Rob and Billy and Mike and Stephen. I love to watch Mike play that guitar. I love to watch Stephen as he passionately pounds the drums. I love to watch Billy pour his heart and soul into his guitar. And I love to watch Rob sing, and dance, and smile as he commands the center of the stage. Simply put, Louden Swain gives me joy. This concert gives me joy. I have said it before, and I know that I will say it many more times to come… the Saturday Night Special is special because of Louden Swain.

The concert in Pittsburgh apparently had some technical issues – mics not working properly, guitar issues, and so on. But let’s be honest, I didn’t care, not even a little. These guys could come on stage and sing the phone book completely a capella and I’d be so okay with that.

So without further ado, and without a lot of commentary, here’s a recap of PittCon’s Saturday Night Special.

The night got off to a rockin’ start as Jake Abel introduced the band.

The first song of the night was “Present Time.”

Then we were treated to Matt Cohen singing “Seven Nation Army.”

Following Matt’s epic performance was “Juliet” with Chris Schmelke on bass.

Next up, the band performed “Be Me.”

Samantha Smith appeared on stage to introduce Kim Rhodes, who then  joined the band for a powerful and very moving rendition of “Heaven Knows.” She sang with such conviction in her voice, so much emotion.

Next, the guys played “Eskimo,” once again rockin’ out and making me wanna dance in my seat.

Next up was Gil McKinney. I was not at all prepared for his performance of his song “How Was I to Know,” a song about losing his father. It was beautiful and breathtaking and emotional and lemme tell ya, it’s damn hard to focus my camera with tears in my eyes. If you haven’t bought Gil’s cd, go buy it. Right now.

Lynn: (poking her head into the post) I lost my dad last year too, and this song absolutely SLAYS me. In the most therapeutic of ways. Who knew Gil could write like that? (I knew he could sing like that, but woah. When is Broadway gonna discover him?)

The band then played “Leg Up” and followed that with “Bandaged Hand,” one of my personal favs.

Briana Buckmaster next joined the guys on stage for a gut-wrenching rendition of “A Million Reasons.” She has such a beautiful voice, filled with so much power. I cannot wait for her cd!

Side note: my apologies to Stephen. Drummer shots are so, so hard. At least I was able to get a few decent shots as you sat behind Briana.

The guys followed Briana’s performance with their song “Help You.” Because apparently my heart hadn’t been through enough at that point.

Jason Manns was the next to join the stage, and he sang “The Slightest Thing.” Oh my Chuck, he can sing! That note! Just WOW.

Next up was “Whipping Post” with Richard Speight Jr. accompanying on guitar and Creation’s Adam Malin on keyboards.

Then we were treated to a performance of “Copperhead Road” with passionate vocals by Richard.

Lynn: (poking her head into the post) And he was still wearing those glasses! Squee!

Then everyone left the stage, and the theater fell quiet as Rob performed “Fare Thee Well.”

As if that song was not emotional enough, the band returned to accompany Rob… more like to support Rob. Because we all support Rob as he sings “She Waits.”

Then Matt Cohen was back on stage. Well, sort of. He was on stage, and then he was running through the audience, and standing on chairs, and cheering us on as we all stood up and danced and sang along to “Mama’s Jam.”

Lynn: (poking in again…) In part, the thing that makes Mama’s Jam so infectious and joyous and special is Matt’s cheerleading. Every time Rob asks “Is Matt Cohen still here?” there’s so much hope in his voice and his expression, because singing this song without Matt is a very different experience. And in part, the thing that makes Mama’s Jam so joyous is that it comes after “She Wait’s.” Always. Your heart breaks for Rob and his family and especially for his mom when he sings that song, but then the band kicks into “Mama’s Jam” and it’s this fierce, ferocious anthem to female empowerment and Rob’s appreciation of his mother’s strength and it just KILLS me every time, in the very best of ways.

Afterwards, the band played “Amazing.” The song title speaks for itself.

That brings us to the final song of the night. At concerts a year or so ago, the final song was “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends.” To be honest, I really loved that song as the ending of the concert, because it seems to be fitting of our fandom. But alas, things change and people grow and we move on. I like that “Medicated” has become a crowd favorite. I like that ‘the kazoo chorus’ has become a Thing, with virtually everyone in the audience having a kazoo. Even better that Rob directs the audience to play their kazoos, and then directs the celebrities on stage to play theirs. In a way, it feels like… it’s sort of like…

Well, I might be crazy…

I might be medicated…

But I get by with a little help from my friends.


Check out Family Don’t End With Blood

which includes chapters written by SNS alums

Rob, Briana, Kim, Gil, Matt, Jensen, Jared, Mark,

Ruth, Osric and more! Links on our home page!



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