Sundance 08 was kind of sad. Some awesome things happened but for the most part our location was a little weird (hard to find and underground) and there wasn’t a whole lot of time to work it into the success we wanted to be.
Luckily this time I have to hold back some on all the awesomosity that occurred at Sundance 09. First things first - we weren't in the basement. Though in the same building, we were directly above the basement in a lounge that had big signs with our name and logo on it.
People kept walking by trying to get in who weren’t on the guests list. I was outside when a few kids came by and said they should be on the list because they were famous. They said they were in the movie “The Breakfast Club” (1985) – they were maybe 14. I thought it was a pretty valiant effort.
So our days were like this (in concept) - Rock Band Gifting Lounge 10:30am-6'ish pm. This was when people on an exclusive talent list would come up and visit our little lounge and leave with gifts like Roo's (shoes with pockets!), lingerie, Burt's Bees (Burt was MIA), LA Sports Club memberships, all the Muscle Milk power shakes you could drink, cupcakes, t-shirts, and a Rock Band bundle. We were set up near the door on a pretty awesome little stage and played the entire time. Like a house band, only fake.
Then we would take a short break, come back around 9:30pm for Rock Band parties and play/herd cats until 2:00am or 3:00am. We opened up last Friday (1/16/09) and our expectations were kind of low because of last year, but we were quickly proven dumb as pretty much immediately people started coming in- Robin Thicke, Efren Ramirez (Pedro from “Napoleon Dynamite”, a huge fan of our game and totally off the wall in the best possible way).
Mo'Nique (whom we love).
David Blue from “Ugly Betty” (also a big fan of Rock Band), a whole bunch of people who I don't know because I don't read US Weekly but apparently are famous for being famous, and a ton of indie actors from movies premiering at Sundance. Everyone was awesome, loved Rock Band, told us to keep playing, and was otherwise very nice - a good time was had.
Friday night was a little bit of a bummer. The idea was this, we'd show up at 10:00am, set up Rock Band, wait for Nick Cannon to show up to do a short DJ set with Mariah Carey, then we would take the stage and play and get other people from the party to play. When Nick Cannon still hadn't show up and we realized there was probably not going to be any Rock Band we decided to leave and rest up for the next day.
Eventually I guess Nick and Mariah did show up and dj some until the wee hours. Whatever, we were home watching "Tool Academy" so no skin off our noses. That show rules.
Saturday was even better than Friday - Andie MacDowell, Kim Whitley (from “Black Dynamite”), Anne Heche, Dominic Monaghan (from “Lost” and “Lord of the Rings”), Ryan Cabrera, some Soap Opera actors, the dude who played the Russian on “The Wire”, Jane Lynch (from the Christopher Guest movies), Frankie Faison, Devon Aoki and her brother, the Broken Lizard guys (“Super Troopers”) who seemed to like our game, Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger of The Doors jumped up on stage while we were playing to take a few pictures, Jason Reitman (director of “Juno”), Chris and Danny Masterson, Adam Duritz, poker player Annie Duke, and Matthew Lillard.
Three good stories from Saturday - Tom Arnold came in and was very energetic. John said "We have bundles for the Wii" to which Tom Arnold said "I HAVE THE WII I LOVE THE WII I EXCERCISE ON THE WII!" Tom Arnold only talks in Caps Lock. He played Cheap Trick.
Barry Zito was awesome (he's a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants). He loves our games, plays drums all the time, and recently as he was inspired by RB2 he went and bought a real drum set and is learning to play it. Go Rock Band as an inspiration jumping point for learning to play a real instrument!
Also, in the middle of the day who comes in but Perry Farrell and Slash. They hung out near the stage while we played for them a bit and seemed to sort of dig the whole thing.
We left for a few hours back to our condo, watched "Tool Academy" again, and then returned for a much better night. Basically the evenings were MC’d by Donovan Leitch who is not only Donovan's son but Ione Skye's brother (I love the Rachel Papers). At any rate Donovan has a lot of famous friends. One of those friends is Sting who came to our party specifically to see Rock Band. We were asked to perform for him which was scary as I am a big Police fan. He seemed to like it, I think. We were stoked.
Day 3 - I played with the lovely Christina Milian which was great,
Seth Green and Clare Grant came in and played as well in a supergroup with Craig Brewer.
We also played for Alia Shawkat from “Arrested Development” (Maeby), Brittany Snow, Ian Ziering, Jason Ritter, JK Simmons, Laura San Giacomo, Peter Gallagher, and Tommy Davidson. Tommy Davidson kind of summed up everything the best. I called him over and told him I was glad he could make it because he was one of the only people to visit us last year. He said "This is great, you guys have made it! Last year you were in the dungeon." He then kept walking by telling us to turn up the volume.
When we left at 6:00pm we were walking up the street and I almost ran directly into Charlie Day from “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”. I told him how much we love the show and I think we may have come on a little strong because he seemed scared. I invited him to the party anyway. Sadly, he never came, but I can’t blame him, what with us being sweaty, hoarse, and potentially killers.
We came back for the party that night and it was a little dead. There were some technical problems on the part of the DJs that took some looking into and I think the silence made a few people leave. Meanwhile they weren't letting in my guests at the front door. HMX’s own Maria O’Brien knows Michael Sinterniklaas who is the founder of NYAV Post. Oh and he is the voice of Dean Venture on “The Venture Bros”!
Maria gave him my number and we chatted and I put him on the list. He showed up with his whole house of people at Sundance. It was a who's who of voice over actors and, well, Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrol from “Battlestar Galactica”). Eventually we got them all in after John and I played Good Cop Bad Cop with the doorman and they were awesome. They played, they cheered for other bands and they were one of the only things keeping the party alive. Also the entire group took an awesome class photo with us at the end of the night.
Another cool anecdote - we also invited Kyle Korver from the Utah Jazz who showed up with some other players and they waited at the door from 9:30pm even though the party didn't start until 10 and Rock Band didn't start until 11. They were there solely to play Rock Band.
These are our fans.
Day 4 - Was slower. There weren't a whole lot of people coming in and we were thinking of closing up early. Basically the only people to come through were Benjamin Bratt and Billy Bob Thornton. We ended up playing a sitting set. I was singing while lying on the floor. Aaron and John were sitting down on the stage. We were playing “Hysteria” by Muse. Just then we noticed that Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson from “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” came in. We stood right up.
We then talked to them off and on for about an hour while they chose songs from the book for us to play. They were really stoked about the game. This was my favorite part of Sundance and I told them so. Just that moment John Cleese walked through the door with his daughter. They were excited to get RB2. We shook hands. If I ever meet you on the road feel free to shake my hand. It is the hand that shook John Cleese’s.
There was a short party that night with Chazz Palminteri that was pretty laid back. Which was good because we were exhausted.
We broke down, went home, watched some more "Tool Academy" and packed our things.
This was the best event we have done that didn't involve The Who.