Confluence is Pittsburgh sf/f convention. It is also my eighth con of the year. They don’t blur together but, the things that I remember are almost certainly not what most people are looking to find out. Yes, I’ll tell you about the con suite. No, I didn’t go to any panels I wasn’t on. Yes, I had a burger alone in the hotel bar so I could watch 20 minutes of the Olympics. But again, you don’t care. Here is your question:
What makes Confluence different from others science fiction conventions?
Well, Confluence has a literary focus with a strong minor in music, a small video room (sparsely attended when I poked my head in), but most remarkably, it is the first con I have attended without a gaming room! Imagine that! So, with no gamers, anime-niacs, costumers, or social media people, the tone of the convention was, I almost hesitate to say this, unique.
The events were split between the ground floor lobby and, mostly, the lower level. The lower level had an intimate feel to it. Couches to lounge upon. Hallways that were best suited for a casual stroll. I suspect that the physical environment really promoted the Relax-A-Con vibe. There was a weird moment where the guest of honor spent almost an entire panel being a legitimate dick to one of my roommates, and not in a funny way but other than that, there was no drama except for the stageplay(!), of which a new one is written and produced annually.
Music: There is a hardcore filk vibe here. With the exception of Devo Spice and Insane Ian, this was a pretty traditional filk room. They talked knowledgeably about the Pegasus Awards and shared community experiences. There were a handful of filk folks who came down from Canada, so if you’re a filk fan, put Confluence on your map.
Let me tell you a bit about Pete Grubbs. Pete is a filker completely worthy of your attention. Check out his blog and his music. He’s a great performer, controlling the stage with bittersweet humor and catchy tunes. He’s also a great guy, fun, and sharp. I don’t know how far out of the greater Pittsburgh area he gets, but if you have filk at your con, get this guy in there.
The Con Suite: on a scale of bowl-of-cheese-puffs (1) to mind-blowing Marscon (10), I’ll go with a 6 1/2. Real cream for the coffee and chili/fresh hot dogs/sausage were very appreciated. Unfortunately, most of the time there was nothing but hard-boiled eggs and bread products (I’m allergic to wheat, wtf?). I may have gotten a curious glance after my third cup of coffee on Saturday, but I may have imagined it.
What about the literary programming? Uh, I don’t know. I talked to some people and they said it was good. That’s all I can say.
But! As a music guy, this was pretty awesome. Being 75% unknown to this crowd, I felt like I was scooped up and welcomed right in. It was a great feeling and so I totally recommend it. For me. I recommend that I go back. You? Well, if you’re all about gaming, movies, costuming, online stuff, yeah, this one isn’t for you. But I loved it.