[DISCLAIMER: All my thoughts reflect only my own and not Game Rant's. The only way I feel I could describe the enormity of the event was to write a personal retrospective, hope you all enjoy it.]
On December 8th, 2011, at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco, CA, magic happened. Magic that could only be described as the coalition of hundreds of gamers getting together for rock & roll and charity.
Yes, the gift of charity isn't just a skill bonus found in Skyrim, but it is an actual thing. The particular charity in question is Child's Play, the Penny Arcade-founded charity that provides, among other things, video games and accessories for hospitals. Should there be any doubt about the power of a charity like this one, I challenge you to watch this episode of Penny Arcade TV, covering the results of Child's Play 2010, and NOT have tears well up.
Before I go any further, I implore you to investigate the Child's Play website and perhaps make a donation, it will truly be money well spent.
Ãœmloud 2010 grew in success over its previous year quite a bit, and from what I saw this year, the previous funds raised of $11,468.28 will either be met or exceeded. For more information on the event and its origins, refer to our Umloud! Interview With John Seggerson, one of Ãœmloud's co-founders. Long story short, Ãœmloud is where gamers get together to rock the f'ing house for charity. Now that's out of the way, here's my recounting of one of the best nights of my year, nay, my life.
The night begins for me at around 5pm, when friends and I show up at DNA Lounge to get acquainted with our volunteer associates. Yes, in addition to participating in a band and reporting the events of the night to dear readers, I am also volunteering. Essentially, I have paid to work for Ãœmloud. It is that amazing. My assignment of the night is working at the prize redemption table for an awesome raffle the event was hosting. My role consisted of safeguarding prizes, passing prizes out to winners, and helping to confirm winners. I referred to my role as "goods security team" to add flair and let's be fair, that sounds a lot cooler. I would also like to give thumbs ups to my co-volunteers: Stacy, Ross, Elaine, Noel, and Robert. You're all great people.
Raffle prizes were many and a few of them were certainly pick of the litter, like a brand new Sony 3DTV, an Xbox 360 Collector's Edition of Skyrim, and a Rocksmith pack, including an Epiphone guitar and Astro headphones. The entire list of prizes is available for perusal and a lot of them were pretty awesome, certainly worthy of buying a raffle tickets. The math was actually pretty sound: Buy 30 tickets for $100 and have a higher chance of winning things that retail for way more than $100. Yes, many tickets were bought and all prizes were redeemed, with the exception of 4 by the very end of the night.
Watching an event form from people running around and getting things done before doors officially open is a beautifully chaotic situation. Everyone has intent in their eyes, mixed with that tiny bit of panic. Sound checking was performed by Harmonix staff like John Drake and Eric Pope who performed an unforgettable rendition of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now".
After some pizza (courtesy of DNA Pizza next door), preparation complete, stands and displays setup, it's time for the doors to open. The first wonderful individuals pass through the threshold and enter the venue.
Bootie A+D is performing the intro music, mashing up songs that some people might think have no business together, like swing music and Rage Against The Machine. Whatever the collective thoughts of the crowd were, the music was still something that could be danced to and dance I did. A pleasant way to break up the jitters and get ready for all the excitement.
Before I knew it, the first band, Team Mad Catz (who were one of the premiere sponsors for the event) started performing. The full band roster is available to see what band sang what, as well as some of the interesting choices for band photos. After the band went on, everything was off and rolling and it felt like everything had started moving in a haze afterward.
Band after band took the stage to embrace their minutes of fame and to contribute their rocking for charity. The entire venue filled up before I knew what was happening. Band and audience members alike were enjoying the show, walking the floor, and checking out the other attractions: The SWAG table, the Silent Auction, the free play lounge upstairs where people flooded to get their own small performances in.
Conversation, laughter, and music fill the air. This is a very happy place.
It's around this time that the memories almost turn into a haze. I find myself running around, getting things taken care of for my band's own performance, and ensuring that the prize redemption table isn't getting flooded with winners. Things fell into place and all it came down to was us waiting for our slot to come up.
What's that? It's almost time for our performance? Hot damn! Right around here's where you might expect the kind of rhetoric that would describe how blatantly awesome our performance was. "Mind bending", "earth shattering", or "revolutionary" would all be terms some people would list to describe their performance, but in the end, it was just a damn good time.
It would also be a disservice to merely promote my own band's performance when there were a lot of other great and infinitely more creative acts than our own. The obvious thing to do would be to check out the entire webcast of the show and admire the performances of everyone who contributed to make the show what it was: Awesome.
The night goes on with performances and people interacting and doing the whole "having a good time" thing. It truly is a wonderful thing to see and quite honestly, one of the more difficult things to really describe to anyone. Everyone's got a smile on in some kind of fashion, they are moving to the grooving. What else can they do?
Before I knew it, the end of the night is upon us. A few last minute band donations of $80 nabbed some extra stage time, but after it's all said and done, the final words are given and the great exodus began. I stayed behind to do a bit of tear down for some of the areas.
As I made my way out, John Seggerson approaches me, gives me a hug, looks me square in the eye and says, "Thank you." And I already knew that it wasn't just him or the staff saying that, but the hundreds of children that the money raised would be helping. Surely, there could be no other greater feeling that can be accomplished in this world than by aiding a child during an incredibly difficult time.
Thanks to John "Seg" Seggerson, Chris Kohler, and Joe Markert for providing such an incredible experience and an event for an equally incredibly charity. Thanks to all the wonderful people who make Child's Play possible.
Don't forget, there doesn't need to be a snazzy event going on to donate to Child's Play. Events like Ãœmloud or LoadingReadyRun's Desert Bus For Hope raise awareness, but you can always donate directly to Child's Play. Stay tuned soon for a post-event interview with John "Seg" Seggerson, where we discuss the event in a much more professional tone.
In case you were wondering, yes, we had a band photo (this was my favorite):
Follow me on Twitter @TrungleFever
Photo courtesy of Bob Lopez Photography via the Ãœmloud Flickr page.