Friday, March 2, 2012

leetUP 2012: Welcome, Nerd Art Party. It's About Time.

Last night marked the first ever leetUP, the brainchild of G4 creator Charles Hirschhorn, and Attack of the Show host Kevin Pereria, that could best be described as a "Nerd Carnival." The idea was to create a kind of mix of a convention with an art party, encouraging a bunch of nerds (and I include myself in the definition of "nerd," obviously) to get together, drink, mingle, play, and watch their favorite personalities podcast it out on stage. For those of you that couldn't attend, I thought I would lay out the evening for you.

leetUP was held at Club Nokia downtown. While the layout of the space was perfect for this kind of event and could clearly handle the ample A/V needs, there were some major drawbacks as well. For one, the drinks were MASSIVELY expensive. As in 8-12 bucks each for a tiny plastic cup of wine or liquor. I don't drink beer generally, but if I did, it was hardly the cheaper option. The only food available (I assume because those were the rules of the space) were the disgusting refrigerated options from Club Nokia itself. Plus the security was bizarrely tight (metal detectors? I have to take my jewelry off? Really?), I heard Ticketmaster, who sells tix for Club Nokia, had an insane service charge, our parking cost $25, and the line to pick up tickets was unreasonably long, with no separate entry for press. Still, none of this was the fault of the organizers or producers, so I don't mean this as a criticism of the event, but rather as an encouragement to find a more accommodating venue next year. 

But on to the good stuff, which was everything else. After the ticket takers, but before entering the space, there was a merch table set up with items being sold by any guests, DJs and sponsors. In retrospect, I really wish I had picked up one of the Tru Protection anti glare iPad screens and taken more of an in depth look at everything else offered. 

Inside the doors, to our right was a giant bar that struck us as rather space-shippy. A sign told us we could only have two drinks maximum, but we laughed at it and then had three. Unfortunately, 3 drinks for each of us ended up costing a hefty $66 bucks. That plus parking came out to $91, and for the people that bought tickets off on ticketmaster? Easily $150 bucks for two to attend and drink over the course of five hours. Again, not the fault of the producers, but eff you, Club Nokia.

In the center of the space was the giant general admission area, with a huge stage, balcony up top for VIPs, and huge lightboard. Around the perimeter were the various funzones. To the right, past the bar, was the gaming area. Here there were a bunch of wiis set up, and a classic arcade game section, where my +1 and I had a blast trying to get a handle on Burger Time. We died a lot. But had a damn good time doing it.

To the left of the bar was the step and repeat with a red carpet, a Media Hound booth, and a mini gallery of some awesome pieces from the ACME archives.  Any attendee could take their photo on the red carpet, which is always fun, and even cooler, Media Hound would put your photo on their website if you created your own personal movie playlist. Let me backtrack. Media Hound is a new service that tells you how you can access any movie or tv show instantly (legally of course) and at what cost. This would have been handy for my "How to watch all the academy award nominated movie" article a week back! My friend created a 90s Weekend Jam with all TV shows from SNICK and TGIF and the always wonderful @meli_molina came up with "Best original movies that have been or will be remade" - an idea that everyone at Media Hound loved and got lots of love over the course of the evening. There was a whiteboard up for writing ideas for playlists, and computers available for sifting through the playlists created earlier in the evening. 

The rest after the jump!

In the center, surrounding the lightboard area, were some other fun stations, including playing with bucky balls (WANT!) and a booth for Tru Protection, a great accessory company specializing in screens and cases for iPhones and iPads that is "female and minority run," socially conscious, and makes a point of getting involved with charities. 

On to the show itself. Kevin Pereira acted as MC for the night, naturally. Before he took the stage, DJ R-Rated was spinning, taking requests from Twitter and engaging in fun contests like offering prizes to people who could guess the theme song he was playing. Around 8pm, he wrapped up his set and Pereira introduced the evening with a brief comedy set before bringing out the first guest, Jimmy Pardo. Pardo did a fun stand up routine, and then the first panel began. For about an hour, Felicia Day, Alex Albrecht and Harley from Epic Meal Time took to the stage to talk about making videos on the internet, you tube comments, and general entertaining conversation. 

The living room like set helped create an easy going atmosphere that encouraged everyone on stage to let loose a little and allowed the audience to choose either to get up close and listen or hang back at the bar/fun stations, socialize, and pay attention to what was happening on stage, also playing on screens around the venue, whenever they felt like it. 

After an Epic Meal Time inspired audience-members-eating-disgusting-things contest, the panel wrapped up and DJ Mike Relm began his set, which was absolutely killer. During this break was when we did most of our exploring and socializing, including deciding the DJ was the best ever and should be snatched up for Comic-Con parties NOW. At around 10, Ask a Ninja came on stage and I think killed Justin Beiber? I had been drinking a lot by that point. Then Pereira jokingly said Kevin Smith and Doug Benson never showed, so the evening was over. Some people actually believed him and left, which I don't THINK was the intention. Shortly after, the final panel began, featuring Kevin Smith, Chris Hardwick, Doug Benson and Greg Fitzsimmons. Smith dominated the beginning of the panel, and was so hilarious, as usual, that I kind of wished he had gotten a solo spot or Q&A, since I always have to miss those at Comic-Con now and love them so much. 

Here, the late night, relaxed vibe I was referring to earlier also brought out the blue. But you can't really expect to get those guys on stage together and NOT talk about jerking off and anal sex. Unlike conventions, which these folks are mostly used to, there seemed to be no rules here, and the panelists reveled in it. Benson was clearly high out of his mind, f-bombs were dropped left and right - the whole thing was bridging on anarchy, in the best way possible. Nerd anarchy! One of my favorite moments was when Doug Benson made an awkward reference to Glee that NO ONE in the audience understood. Nothing like outing a stoner as a Glee fan. The panel was a raucous good time, and even though we had to book it at 11, I heard the audience interaction portion involved a honey badger and multiple bongs and that once everything had finished, tons of items were given away on the stage. Which reminds me. I heard there was a way to win a Roomba, but I never found out how. I want a Roomba, Kevin Pereira! 

All in all, a hilarious, drunken, nerdy evening was had. I'm already looking forward to next year's leetUP, though I beg of you leetUP folk to find a new venue, and get some food trucks involved! Otherwise, an aces evening. Be sure to keep an eye on for the podcast of the event and information on when the evening may be coming to your town. 

For all of my photos of the evening, head here
For the official leetUP photos, head here
Keep an eye on the leetUP website to get to hear the podcast of the panels for yourself!


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