Monday, February 10, 2014

Rockage 3.0

I spent this past weekend in San Jose, attending Rockage 3.0, the third iteration of Eric Fanali's attempts to bring a music and gaming event to the west coast.

I never attended the previous ones, but what I understand this time it was much bigger and more successful than in previous years, due in part to acquaintances of mine.
The show took place at the student union of San Jose State University in downtown San Jose. I was pretty skeptical going in since, in my experience, student unions are about as glamorous as hotel ballrooms, maybe less. Add that to the fact that the building was in the middle of renovations, and you've got one stitched-together-looking event.

I was pleasantly surprised by the SJSU student union, though. It was a fascinating, multi-level building that accommodated the needs of Rockage nicely. Two conference rooms and a large ballroom on the uppermost floor became a panel room, an art room, and the main concert hall filled with arcade cabinets. These rooms all surrounded an inner balcony that looked down onto a lower platform, which served as a secondary stage. Along the balcony were a few vendors, retro gaming stations, and a few places where SJSU's Indie Dev club (what a cool club!) had set up their games for people to try.

I didn't get to attend any of the shows in the main hall, but I got to catch all of the performances in the secondary stage, dubbed the "Super Soul Pad" since Eric Fanali just sort of let the Super Soul Bros run it.

I had never seen a concert like it, with a few people crowding the lower pad with the band while everyone else looked down from the balcony, getting a full view of everything. The balconies were especially crowded for Super Soul Bros performances, since they just kinda brought the house down. They performed twice per day all three days, and it never got old.

Unfortunately, the SJSU student union is int he middle of a college campus, which made it a little hard to find. Many of the performances were running late (which usually meant that someone else needed to cut their set short to make up the time), and the "art room" didn't have any artwork displayed in it until the third day. Luckily, Jeff brought TVs, SNES systems, and copies of Mario Paint, so the "art room" became primarily a place to make art using a video game rather than a place to display art from video games.

Jeff's friends Travis and Knut also supplied most of the TVs and retro systems used in the balcony area, and a couple of the panels were run by Jeff as well. Given that, I don't think it's wrong to say that the Super Soul Bros crew (which includes Jeff, Travis, and Knut) basically carried half of the event and made it the success it became.

Which presents my primary hope/concern for the event: at the moment, it's primed and ready for major influence, from anybody who wants to put in the work to turn it into what they want. If Fangamer were to get involved right now we could practically take it over. On the other hand, so could most anybody else. I trust Eric Fanali to make good judgment on who influences his convention, but as conventions grow they tend to become unwieldy.

Regardless, I have much to report when I return to Tucson. From there, Fangamer will decide how it will be involved with the event in the future.

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