Rush Is On To Set Stage

Rogers Bayfest 2010: The band's near-four hour show includes lights, lasers, giant video screens, and dual drum sets for a nine-minute drum solo by Neil Peart.

By Tara Jeffrey, Sarnia Observer, July 6, 2010

Bayfest's famous stage underwent a massive makeover to accommodate Canadian music legends Rush and the largest stage show ever at Sarnia's summer music festival.

"What they have is really built for an arena, not a stage like ours," said Bayfest's Michele Stokley. "They don't do a lot of festivals like this, but they wanted to do the full show and we wanted to give everyone else the full show."

Stokley is talking about $30,000 in upgrades to the stage's roof to hold an extravagant lighting plot.

"Our capacity for the roof is 60,000 pounds and they went over by 20,000 pounds because of their moving lighting unit that looks like a giant spider," said Stokley. "We have to build special trussing for it."

The request is unheard of for a Bayfest act, said Stokley. The only band to reach stage capacity was KISS last summer, and Rascal Flatts was close in 2008.

The Rush show on Friday night also requires more electricity than any other headliner in festival history, Stokley said.

"We basically had to go back to the power company and say, how are we going to do this?" she said.

A typical concert requires a maximum of 1,200 amps. Rush requires 1,200 amps just for lighting, along with 200 for movement, 400 for sound, and 200 for video.

"We generally bring in three generators for sound, lights and video," said Stokley. "So we've had to bring in a fourth generator, and another for backup."

Longtime Rush fan and Sarnia resident Derek Barton said he's not surprised by the numbers.

"They certainly don't compromise. They bring their own show and that's just the way it is," said Barton, who will mark his 12th Rush concert at Bayfest.

The four-hour show includes lights, lasers, giant video screens, and dual drum sets for a nine-minute solo by Neil Peart.

"They call themselves the world's smallest orchestra," said Barton. "People will see that at Bayfest. They're probably the finest live act, ever."