The Summer of Sonic continues to astound and amaze me. It was only three years ago that I was paying for a community hall with my own money and arranging a small-time gathering for Sonic fans in Covent Garden. In a very short time, it has ballooned into a major event on every Sonic fan’s calendar, and has a tonne of backing from Sega itself. But the one thing that surprises me (in a good way) the most, is you guys.
I had the pleasure of speaking to some awesome Sonic fans inbetween my epic sprinting from one end of the venue space to the other. You guys were there to enjoy Sonic 4, Sonic Colours and Crush 40, but you also understood what the point of the Summer of Sonic was all about – making new friends and chatting about Sonic with one another. And I was more than happy to chat to each and every one of you. I’m just sorry I didn’t have the time to stick around for longer than five minutes.
The scary thing was just how many people we ended up fitting in that venue. You guys arrived in droves, and that’s what truly knocked me for six. Standing on stage at the start of Summer of Sonic 2009 and seeing 400 people cheer is one thing, but welcoming 2010′s event with ArchAngelUK in front of 800 fellow Sonic fanatics, all screaming their heads off, was actually insane.
The crowd really got into it, and even though we had heat problems you all trucked on. As ArchAngelUK said, SoS10 really was a victory in the face of adversity for the organisers, but this was just as true for the attendees as well. So a big thank you for sticking around and understanding the issues we were facing.
As has already been said, the heat was only the last in a long laundry list of issues with the venue we chose. You might remember back in May I posted a ‘behind the scenes’ video of The Pavilion in all its open glory – albeit with a ton of furniture and other rubbish littered about the space. All of that stuff was still in there by the time the team arrived to set up on Friday 6th.
And adhering to the floorplan straight away proved difficult – for example, the desks for the Shop Stop and Signing Booth were on the second tier, but we couldn’t move them because we had to wait for the top tier to be cleared of rubbish. But we couldn’t move that stuff ourselves, so were at the mercy of the venue’s furniture removals people, who decided that they would happily take their time doing so, even though we sort of paid them to take all this stuff away a week ago.
Some of the staff were genuinely very helpful however and wanted to ensure we had everything we needed. Overall though it was a total nightmare, given we booked the Friday specifically to arrange furniture and set up tech.
It wasn’t just the furniture people that were tardy either. Despite paying for his attendance for a day and a half, our hired sound technician decided not to appear on Friday, meaning we had to coerce the venue’s management to get backup people in order for Crush 40 to do a sound check. You might have noticed actually, during Crush 40′s performance, that the sound dipped a little bit before reaching rather high levels at one point. That was because our sound technician decided to leave his post and enjoy the gig in the crowd. Needless to say, we weren’t impressed. And he took a nap an hour before we opened the doors! We don’t like paying the wages of lazy people, frankly.
The icing on the cake was the missing equipment, which was one of the main reasons we opened late – along with a few other last-minute requests that I wished we were asked about sooner – and nearly knocked the whole operation off-kilter. Luckily, Rory/Roareye’s resolve was absolutely fantastic, and together we all clubbed up and improvised. I was also asked by the management if there was a way to cut the number of people we would let in to around 500. That didn’t get a very pleasant response from me – we hired a 1000-strong space, we intended to use it.
Because we were blindsighted by these issues, we missed some obvious things that would have been helpful during the day – organised queue ropes and people looking after the new games, the placement of Sonic Colours (in retrospect, not a good idea to allow a queue to form across the stage crowd) and a better handling of Crush 40′s signing period (thrust upon us by last-minute stage requests as well).
In fact, I can tell you exactly the worst moment of Summer of Sonic 2010 for me – it was trying to pull Johnny Gioeli and Jun Senoue away from a massive line of fans wanting photos and signed merchandise. It was a horrible thing to experience on my side. If I was just an unconnected member of venue staff, telling people ‘no more signings,’ it wouldn’t be so bad. But being a massive Sonic fan myself, looking at other massive Sonic fans pleading with me ‘just one photo, please’… it cuts a guy up.
Despite all of this though, I couldn’t have been happier with how Summer of Sonic 2010 went. All of the volunteers (these guys don’t get paid – big them up!) really stepped up their game to ensure all the attendees had a Way Past Cool time, and it seemed like you guys really appreciated the effort we went into to make this day happen. Which is all the thanks I need. Sure, there are things to learn from every convention – it’s the side-effect of having fans organise a fan event, after all – but I feel we really pulled a rabbit out of the hat and staged the greatest Summer of Sonic yet.
Jun and Johnny were absolute stars, looking after as many people as they could, and Jun even went back to the queue later in the day just to carry on signing! They were meant to be on stage performing at that time! They were super stoked to attend and perform for everyone on Saturday, and they seem very keen on coming back at a later date. Make of that what you will. I spoke with Jun whilst collapsed on a sofa and he was very excited to look into his goodie bag and find a First4Figures Metal Sonic model. Johnny seemed ultra-tired afterwards, but was still as enthusiastic and chipper as he was on the Friday. Two awesome guys.
Nigel Dobbyn was also an absolute star, and I’m slightly gutted that this was the second time he’s attended SoS and I’ve not been able to spend some proper time with the chap. Being a huge Sonic the Comic fan, I kicked myself for that one. I did manage to hang around long enough to help kick-start his Art Surgery – his intended table had been understandably taken by eager fans wanting to take part in the art contest. It was a struggle to ensure those guys had alternative places to sit, while Nigel could get on with his day, but it was worth the effort. It’s good when you’re able to please as many people as possible in a bad situation.
There are so many stories, anecdotes and special moments for me from the Summer of Sonic 2010 that I fear I will be here all day if I recounted them all. So I’ll start from the ones that had the biggest impact to me. Watching nearly 800 people flood The Pavilion after a mere seven minutes of opening the doors was simply jaw-dropping.
At the time, I was sat in the crow’s nest/technical area trying to desperately fix our internet connection to provide some sort of video or radio stream. At first glance there were about 400 or so attendees (our rough visit count last year), and I had been somewhat desensitised to that number. But then when I looked up again two minutes later the upper and second tiers were swarming with people. Eek. Not entirely sure how I didn’t get stage fright.
Never Mind the Buzzbombers was a hit as always, and Dave Luty (or Hogfather/Gnasher on SSMB) was an excellent host as always. Aaron ‘RubyEclipse’ Webber (of Sega of America fame) and Johnny Gioeli helped us try to win some audience members fantastic prizes, but the highlight came when Johnny had to answer quick-fire questions on Jun Senoue’s career. Nobody had seen Jun at this point of the day, so to see him slowly pop his head from the VIP balcony shortly after Johnny was placed on the spot was a truly special moment, purely to see the reaction from the crowd once they spotted him. I hope Johnny and Jun are still friends after that final score.
Jemnezmy brought to my attention that there was an attendee who had unfortunately reacted quite badly to the humidity and heat. As a result, the poor guy was sat outside for most of the day while his friend dashed around to help him get better. Jem was able to grab a couple of Crush 40 T-Shirts, have them signed by Jun and Johnny along with some other freebies, as a consolation for missing out on the day. I wasn’t able to give him the gear myself, but I heard that he was blown away by the gesture, and was able to later come in and enjoy some of the event before Crush 40 took to the stage. That generosity suggested by others was a major highlight for me.
Other high points include hosting the cosplay contest – all of them fantastic and I wish we could have let them all win – receiving some great gifts from fellow fans such as a homemade CD from a great girl called Kati with a song called ‘Come On Shadow’ along with some awesome artwork, and Ian ‘Bmn’ Bennett working the crowd before Crush 40, getting everyone to yell ‘PINGAS’ in unison.
One of my all-time favourite moments was the countdown however, where Kevin and myself got the whole crowd of ~800 to clap for an insanely prolonged period of time, before taking a full force of excited cheers as we came to the stage. Thank you guys so much for welcoming our hard work and efforts in this way, it really means a lot to us and makes the blood, sweat and tears we all pump into this event truly worth it.
As Kevin said, we’ve already got the date locked down for Summer of Sonic 2011 – 25th June 2011. Initial planning between myself, himself and Sega starts very very soon, and we will be able to share more thoughts at a later date. Ideas, comments and (constructive please – understand that you did come to a free event after all) criticisms can be laid at Kevin’s post here (or here if you’d rather, but best to keep it in one place eh?). We will read them all and take them on board, as long as you’re not a big fat meanie!
By all means, share your pictures and video links in this comments thread if you fancy. I love seeing all of the memories being recorded here – it’s no secret that I have a very big folder collecting every single related SoS photo and video, after all. Thanks again for experiencing the Summer of Sonic 2010 with us, we’ll see you at Sonic’s 20th Anniversary!