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Tuesday, October 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Features

Details Overwhelm Music Event

Joe Ehrbar Correspondent

Critic-at-large

Panacea at the Dock, a three-day rock concert at the old Spokane Marketplace on east Riverside, was supposed to “heal what ails you,” according to the show’s boisterous master of ceremonies.

It’s not known whether the ambitious project healed anyone, but you can bet there are a couple of hundred new cases of head colds today as a result of the show.

The endeavor sounded like a grand idea: some of the top bands in the region playing under a heated tent complete with a barbecue and an espresso stand.

The show’s organizers had ambitious expectations for the maiden festival. By having three different types of music - one day for headbangers, one for punks and one for alternarockers - Panacea Concerts promoters expected to attract 700 people each of the three days.

They were lucky if they got 700 for the three-day total.

What could have been a promising autumn festival in Spokane turned out to be a virtual flop. To be specific, none of this had to do with the music.

Despite the lousy weather and poor attendance, the bands, for the most part, acted like professionals and churned out inspired performances. Saturday’s show featuring Seattle’s Gas Huffer, Spokane’s Makers, Fumes, Flies, Big Comb and Fatty Lumpkin, drew the biggest crowd.

Rather, the problems involved the venue set-up and the time of year.

The concert was originally supposed to be under a heated tent protecting concertgoers from the elements, but it wasn’t. Only the stage and barbecue area were tented. The area for the audience was exposed.

By Sunday, a canopy was erected, but it only covered the crowd immediately in front of the stage.

And, while the cold was numbing on Saturday and Sunday, at least it didn’t rain, as it did the opening day of the festival. As a result, only a handful of the 100 ticketholders stuck it out to watch Tad, Friday’s headliner.

Because people couldn’t stay warm in the concert area, most headed for their cars between sets.

A concert like this would be perfect in the spring and summer months, or even early autumn.

The $10 per day ticket price was almost as intimidating as the weather. Certainly the cost of putting on the event justified it. However, in the past few years, the price of hearing Gas Huffer - and the majority of the other bands booked - in Spokane has never exceeded $5.

And, Thanksgiving weekend is not the ideal weekend to hold such a show, mainly because the area college students were out of town for the long holiday weekend.

What might have been the prudent course of action was for Panacea Concerts to stage a trial concert - perhaps just a day-long event - first to see if a three-day festival was feasible.

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