June 1997

Field Report: Surge Fest

photo of Eric

By Eric Riebling
Contributing writer

Photo by Joe Amon

Note: Eric is the bassist for The Gathering Field. On May 24 they played, along with a number of other Pittsburgh bands, at an all-day festival of local music called "Surge Fest" at Starlake Amphitheatre.

I knew this deadline might be coming... hadn't felt the urge to surge since the night of the show, but I actually did try that night... sat at the computer screen, blank. All I could write about was what a great sandwich I had at catering, how Brian and I got a $110 speeding ticket on the way to the show driving from Zanesville, OH. And how it's good that the rain held off as long as possible. The weather, it was frightful on the drive home.

Oh, and how performing, it felt like I ran out of energy about halfway through the set, due to the, ahem, surge, of energy that came from playing for such a huge crowd. But that's exactly what was needed to get me through the rest of the set with high energy, something I think the whole scene could benefit from: a good shot in the arm.

It was fun hanging out with other musicians and bonding over gear, gigs, girls, and what have you... the usual road fodder. I felt awfully guilty after introducing a copy of a magazine that promised nude photos of Drew Barrymore into the dressing room, but we had just seen Boys on the Side in a Columbus hotel room, and, darnit, I was curious. Other road cuisine included watching Bob Ross paint, it turns out. It always fascinates me what common ground bands connect on. In our case, it would have to be bad television and good coffee. Unless you, too, consider King of the Hill high drama.

So it was interesting to check out the satellite TV in the dressing room. Technology keeps making it easier and easier to stay on the couch. I was curious whether different bands had different riders, resulting in special items showing up in their dressing rooms. What was in your cooler, I should have been asking... but Saturday was no day to be a roving reporter. I saw some of the cue cards the Fox news crew had, and would have felt terrified having to read them on camera.

The crowd at times seemed like a freak show, and gave me pause to wonder how high ticket prices make a difference in the makeup of a crowd, for example, the show we're planning to play in Market Square, june 13th. I've been to some of those shows where the residentially challenged and the pigeons mix with the business suits. What a place to put a bus route, right down the middle of a concert. I wish Tony Janflone were there to recreate the time he took a guitar solo (wireless) while riding down the street in a bus. Now that's something to write about.


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