Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's W00tstock, n00b!

Hi, I’m Sue. I’ve been in a perpetual state of catch-up since mid-August, and I am an Anomaly. Back in late October, I was fortunate enough to attend w00tstock 2.7 in NYC. "What is w00tstock?" you ask. Well, it’s marketed simply as "3 hours of geeks and music" or "a live celebration of all things geek." But it’s so much more. The best way I can describe it is "all the best parts of a con smashed into one on-stage event". Hosted by Paul and Storm, Wil Wheaton, and Adam Savage, each w00tstock has a different lineup of geeks who come on stage and do their thing. During this particular batch of w00tstocks, Wil was filming (Eureka, I think) and unable to attend so Jonathan Coulton took on the role of Emergency Backup Wheaton. Here’s how it went down in the Big Apple (read: "here’s a bunch of awesome stuff with links you should check out").

In his duties as Wil Wheaton, Jonathan Coulton opened the show with welcomes, a Wheaton cut-out, announcements, and even the Creative Commons credit (which received applause - gotta love geeks). Then Paul and Storm began the "entertainment" portion of the evening with their song "Opening Band." Drumming for the evening, whenever needed was Jason Finn, of PUSA (Presidents of the United States of America).

Oh, by the way, I should also mention that this all took place on Ocotober 29, the Friday before Halloween. Audience members were encouraged to attend in costume. As were the performers. Paul and Storm? They were dressed as Wesley Crusher.

Drew Curtis, of Fark.com, shared with us some of the ridiculous headlines they’ve featured over the years. And Grant Imahara, also dressed as Wesley Crusher, told us what is was like to be C3PO and wear that incredibly cumbersome suit. Yes, for many years, when '3PO made a public appearance, it was Grant in the suit. And the first half ended with a highly energetic performance from nerdcore rapper MC Frontalot.

The second act opened with Marian Call, dressed as Nancy Drew. I’m ashamed to admit that I’d never heard her music before that night. But I made up for it by immediately purchasing every recording I could find. She plays the typewriter! As a musical instrument! And Marian was also the only woman on stage that evening, flying her geek flag proudly. (And you can hear "The Nerd Anthem" on Anomaly Supplemental.)

Next up was our host for the evening, Jonathan Coulton, who played a shorter set than many expected. But the show was running long - not that you could tell from the audience - and there was some malfunctioning equipment happening (“Mr. Fancy Pants” has never been so... unpredictable).

Before the second act, someone came and sat down next to me in the front row. She hadn’t been there before, and she looked strangely like my high school calculus teacher, Mrs. Miller. No joke. But the final guest of the evening revealed this mystery woman’s identity. I had spent that last hour sitting next to Adam Savage’s mom. Adam told some stories about his kids and his own childhood, and made the entire room feel like we were at a bar together hanging out.

Nearly four hours after curtain, the geeks were getting close to curfew. Everyone was on stage for the final number, “The Captain’s Wife Lament.” Recorded, this song is about 2 minutes long. That evening, it lasted 18 minutes, and the show ended at exactly 10:59, appeasing the theatre staff.

Throughtout the evening, we were also treated to some some geek videos, short films, and art slide-shows were played on the screen. From these moments, I discovered the webcomic Axe Cop and the amazing artists at The Secret Life of Toys and Relentlessly Cheerful Art. There were also some musical interludes from our hosts, Paul and Storm and JoCo, between larger “acts”.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take notes (I would have had less fun), my camera battery gave out too early, and it’s been a few months (oops). So I can’t tell you exactly what happened when, or who did what to whom, or what jokes were cracked. But what I do remember is something that Storm said early in the evening, which really summed up the whole experience: “Just look around this room. This is what the Internet looks like. This could not have happened 20 years ago.” Word. If w00tstock comes to a town near you, I recommend that you go.

Anomaly Staff Writer
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FYI - If you want to see some videos taken at w00tstock 2.7 NYC, or shown there, w00tstock has a wiki! Check it out. (Please note: some songs and video may be NSFW.)

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