The Three-Con Report
Runtt and I played three conventions in three consecutive weeks, each one with a different theme. Normally people write a post-con wrap-up after each weekend getaway, but chances are good most people don’t hit one every week! I’ve got photos from some of them, so click the big pictures to get to the galleries.
The start of the month was unquestionably the best of the three: Furthemore, Baltimore’s fledgeling Furry con. I don’t call it the best because I prefer the Furry cons or even because our audience was the largest there. The community present simply seemed to be enjoying a nonstop party. After all, isn’t that what a convention is really all about? Convening with your fellow fans?
Furthemore’s programming was well tuned- no conflicts or tight transitions between major events, the sponsor suite was well stocked and comfortable. Right up there with Anthrocon and Furry Weekend Atlanta, this con’s tech crew was the most on-the-ball bunch I’ve dealt with in a while. As a performer with no tour manager, Protocollie and his staff made my job as easy as it could have been- and easy logistics = relaxed performer = better show. Always.
The real fun came once the con expected a blizzard… Sorry, I can’t even type that without laughing. Seriously, there was almost an entire inch that fell the next day. Anyway, because of, er, inconvenient weather, they canceled the con’s official Dead Dog party, but it happened anyway. Nobody set out to start a party, we just sat in a circle playing Cards Against Humanity in what remained of the main ballroom.
Then Protocollie put some 90’s music on and handed a mic to myself and Pepper Coyote for a terrible rendition of “I Want It That Way.” More microphones wandered the room as Furries gradually filed in, refusing to believe the fun was over. We sang Michael Jackson and Daft Punk over 80’s hip hop. Beach balls percolated until they burst. Conga lines and breakdancing coexisted peacefully. For a party that had been canceled, it was the most organic and spontaneous three hours of fun I can remember since I started attending cons.
On that note, why do cons actually PLAN Dead Dog parties? The entire point is that an off-the-books, not-the-con’s-responsibility party (like this one) develops when those still stuck in a hotel together refuse to let the fun die. Please, if you’re a programming director or con chair, just stop. Let the last hurrah happen on its own. Con-scheduled Dead Dogs are as authentic as pre-mixed long island iced teas. Nothing you can plan will top the last three hours I spent at Furthemore.
The following weekend we once again got to play our home town of Boston. Harvard University (yes, THAT Harvard) hosts its own little sci-fi shindig, Vericon. While I do love traveling and playing new cities, any time we play Boston I get to bring our friend Matthew Pompei in on bass and vocals. So despite Vericon’s unfamiliarity with performance tech, we and the audience had an excellent afternoon. We didn’t get to stay for much more than our show, though, so that’s all I’ve got until next year!
And then there was the convention that made me spray paint a Nerf gun and buy my first cravat: Denver’s AnomalyCon. I’d never been to a Steampunk con before, but the look and style of the genre has appealed to me ever since I saw Jeunet’s City of Lost Children. Because this was the first con to put me on their 2014 calendar, I wrote this year’s live show, The Copper Revolution, specifically as a Steampunk theme. It was a great creative kick in my ass and for that I have to thank Kronda, AnomalyCon’s chair.
Everyone I met in Denver seemed to be having fun in their own little Victorian fantasy world. And, sorry Furries, but a much larger percentage of attendees dressed up for this occasion. And damn, did they dress up. Corsets, copper, cravats, cogs… and oh, the mustaches. It was the most visually stunning display I’ve seen since Fizz Otter’s lasers at our Anthrocon show (which, by the way, you can watch in HD on YouTube).
AnomalyCon really only seemed to struggle with their Main Stage promotion and scheduling. Their featured performers, Strange Artifact, whom they flew in from Tokyo, barely filled a single row of seats. I’d compare that to my own turnout as a newcomer, but I was hindered by the fact that the con’s online and printed schedules couldn’t agree on when I was supposed to perform. Those that came to see us were ENERGETIC, though, and it was absolutely wonderful to hear them singing along.
It also didn’t help that the room had already been emptied by the cringe-worthy performances of the preceding acts. I really don’t mean to speak ill of my fellow entertainers, but if a con’s going to pay for a band’s hotel and airfare, you’d think they’d pair them with comparable talent, like Pandora Celtica.
After seeing them perform TWICE that weekend, I want to produce their next album if they’ll have me. Five part a cappella with an even mix of original, parody, and traditional tunes. And they PERFORM. They’re funny, they’re spontaneous, and they’re clearly having as good a time as the audience. If the full-immersion fantasy of the attendees didn’t make me love this con, Pandora Celtica’s performances made me want to come back.
My final word on the past three weeks is WHEW. I am tired, I had a blast, and I am ready to spend more time writing the new album, but I have learned one thing in the past month: Geeks are all the same, no matter what that hypocrite Wil Wheaton might think.
Everyone shows up to these cons with the same intentions: cast off the shroud of reality for a few days and let their bodies breathe in the fantasy world of their choice.
I need a break, but I can’t wait to crash into more of these worlds this year.