Monday, July 8, 2013

WesterCon 66 Review

And so the 2013 WesterCon is in the bag.

Overall not a bad convention.  Major issue was poor communication and organization.  WesterCon has always been known as a "relaxacon" so this is par for the course.

Communication: Hotel Parking was free for hotel guests and con members, but said fact was never on the convention website, I only found out about it a day and a half into the con from one of the convention newsletters.   I know a couple of folks who may have decided against going to the con due to the parking situation, so the fact that it was not clear may have cost the con memberships as well.  I never saw a bulletin board so the newsletters were not posted anywhere either.

Organization:  The filk programming track was pretty much a disaster from the get-go.  There were three "scheduled" concerts, but none of them were actually on the scheduled.  (again they eventually showed up in one of the daily newsletters a day late) They were also in the filk room instead of on the main stage.  Seriously, you can put a guy with a freakin' SITAR on the main stage but not the filk concerts?  The Tyras very generously provided sound gear for the concerts (totally unnecessary in the small room we had) which meant that the filk room was locked up for most of Saturday instead of being open for singing.

ConSuite:  Nice selection of snacks and a good view of Sacramento since it was on the 12th floor.  They were supposed to be open until 1 (unless preparing for a party).  Party's start at 9, so one might expect that the con suite would close at 8 or so.  No, they closed at 6:30.  Again, bad communication and organization.  By Sunday at noon they had a huge spread of food due to donations from the previous night's parties.

Hotel:  3 working elevators out of 4.  Probably needed more like 8.  We used the stairs a lot since we had a 6th floor room.  Nice pool, 8 ft at the deep end.  Was in partial shade by 1700. Convention space was good, and generally well used.  Only one meeting room was separated from the rest of the con, and many times the rooms filled to standing room only.  The open "atrium" area was a really nice venue for the headline band and masquerade, but was a horrible choice for actual panels due to all the hubbub and milling about.  Lack of microphones meant that nobody could really hear any of the panels in this area either.  Hotel restaurant was very expensive and we went elsewhere.  Also the chintzy-ass Hilton provided neither a microwave, mini-fridge, or free internet. (I've stayed at Motel 6's that had better amenities.)

The Phenomenaughts played Saturday night.  In typical WesterCon fashion they ended up starting 40 minutes late.   They were loud.  They were distorted.  Sort of a Punk/Grunge hybrid sound.  Couldn't understand more than one word in ten.  (maybe if I was 20 years younger) Nonetheless they had a great stage presence.  They really know how to work a crowd and got the younger folks dancing in no time.  I was very, very, impressed with their stage presence actually. I left after a half hour or so as my head was starting to pound.

Panels: Best panel by far was "Page 119"  the panelists read page 119 from various books and asked folks whether it would be a "buy or not buy" based on the passage, then brought out the book for the big reveal.  For well known books they would change the characters names or use initials to help disguise the book.  Great panel, need to steal this one.  Some books were instantly recognizable though, (page 119 of FEED for example)

The 2014 WesterCon is in Uta (not going to go to that one); 2015 is SanDiego, and is a likely one to go to.