In January of 2003, The Sprout Fund decided that the local music scene in Pittsburgh needed a wake-up call blasted through bookshelf speakers. To this end, Sprout arranged a month-long concert series called 100 Bands | 31 Nights | 1 City. Every night throughout the month of January, patrons of Club Café were serenaded, screamed at, crooned to, and otherwise lyricized by bands of every genre homegrown right in their backyards.
The purpose of the concert series, called 100 Bands for short, was twofold. The first, more immediate goal was to showcase Pittsburgh’s independent music scene and make it more accessible to people who might not be aware of the rich audioscape surrounding them. The other, longer-term goal was to contribute to the cultural diversity and vitality in Pittsburgh in an effort to make the city more attractive to its multitudes of college students so that they might stay in the city after graduating instead of pursuing careers elsewhere in the country. The lineup included local favorites like Soma Mestizo and Boxstep, as well as better known names, such as the punk band Anti-Flag.
100 Bands | 31 Nights | 1 City was so successful that towards the end of 2003, The Sprout Fund geared up to do it again at the start of 2004, but with a few changes. Instead of one month, Sprout decided to go for three months and instead of just independent music acts, the door was opened to visual and performance artists as well. The event was called AMP, short for Art Music Performance, and it started with another 31-day long concert series throughout January, called AMP @ Club Café. AMP continued into February displaying small artworks from almost 143 artists residing in Pittsburgh and the surrounding counties of Western Pennsylvania in an exhibition at none other than the Andy Warhol Museum. AMP @ The Warhol hoped to shine a light on emerging artists in Pittsburgh and help them along by providing an opportunity to connect with local collectors and sponsors. In addition to Pittsburgh art, AMP @ the Warhol featured The Flat Files, an internationally recognized collection of 3,000 wide, flat art pieces by over 700 under-recognized and young, emerging artists from around the world, on loan from the Pierogi 2000 Gallery in Brooklyn, New York.
Finally, a truly eclectic roster of performance art pieces by individuals, independent teams, and companies found a stage at the Brew House Association each weekend in the March. Performances of AMP @ The Brew House included The Zany Umbrella Circus, a trapeze performance by circus performer Ben Sota involving giant boulders and a giant wire hanger, Call of the Wild, a performance by Matt Barton that explored the distance between our modern society and nature-centered roots, and Gamelan! featuring the Gamelan troupe from the University of Pittsburgh performing Indonesian music, puppetry, dance and martial arts.
Both 100 Bands | 31 Nights | 1 City and AMP were two of The Sprout Fund’s earliest high-profile events. Both events occurred during a time of transition, when Pittsburgh was shifting from a predominantly industrial economy to one based on service, medicine, and culture. By giving local, emerging musicians and artists venues to perform in, Sprout demonstrated its commitment to enriching Pittsburgh’s artistic community and supporting grassroots movements that catalyze change in The Steel City.