memories of w00tstock 2.4

I walked across two sets of train tracks, through a tangle of nerds and normals, and navigated my way up Fourth Street toward the theater. My Bag of Holding, slung diagonally across my body, rested comfortably against my side. Inside, my costume changes (read: Nerdy T-shirts) and script (read: Happiest Days of Our Lives) waited patiently to be called upon for w00tstock.

It took longer than I expected to walk up to B Street, so I used the journey to prepare my introductory remarks. Instead of reading a modified version of the intro I'd used in the past, I was working off some bullet points, to keep the intro short, and to allow myself the freedom to improvise a little bit. What had seemed like a good idea earlier in the week was beginning to feel like the opposite.

I paused briefly at a red light. A pedicab rode by, blasting the Macarena. "That's a very effective way of announcing that you don't want any passengers," I thought.

The light changed, and I continued on my way. A few blocks later, I walked into the theater and found Paul at the sound board.

"…so, there's a little, uh, 'w00tstock wrinkle'," he said.

"…okay, what's that?" I asked.

"The venue is 21 and over, and there is some liquor law that prevents Molly from being inside the theater at all."

"Wait. What?"

"They have to have security escort her on and off the stage, and she can't even sit inside the theater with us for the rest of the show."

I waited a moment for the Bazinga, but he was serious.

"Wow, that … that really sucks," I said.

"Yeah. She's outside the stage door." He pointed across the theater.

"I'll be right back," I said.

I walked through the empty space while staff set up chairs and Marian Call waited to do her sound check on the stage. I waved to Jason Finn. "You better grow your beard back," I said, "the council of beards is trying to remove your seat. I'm doing my best to hold it for you, but there's a faction gathering strength against you."

I realize that this doesn't sound nearly as funny now as it did to me at the time.

"I'm glad you've got my back," he said.

A square of bright daylight streamed in through an open door and stretched out, almost to a rectangle, on one side of the stage. Motes of dust danced in it, and I squinted as I walked through them to the loading dock.

Molly and her boyfriend Chris were outside. She was sitting on a chair and didn't look nearly as sad or upset as I would have been.

I opened my arms, she stood up, and I hugged her. "This sucks," I said. "I'm so sorry."

We talked for a few minutes, and I was impressed by how good her spirits were. It was like she'd decided there wasn't anything she could do about it, and had decided to make the best of a bad situation.

"You know what you should do? You should totally play a cover of Save Ferris' 'Under 21'!"

Before we could talk about it more, I was called into the theater to handle other pre-show tasks. I went to our dressing room, where I was delighted to find lots of beer from Stone Brewing for our performers. We always try to get some local craft brew when we do shows (Portland presented us with an embarrassment of riches) to have backstage, and I was pretty excited that Stone hooked us up.

I set down my bag, and pulled out my notebook to go over my intro notes. I was seriously doubting my plan to simply give a brief history of w00tstock before the show. I felt unprepared, and a little queasy as a result.

About forty minutes later, an hour before the show was set to begin, I walked out to check on Molly again. She and Jason Finn were listening to Under 21 on her iPhone, and working out the chords and changes.

"I may add a key change here," Molly began.

"Yeah, that's hashtag-things-drummers-don't-care-about," Jason said.

We laughed for a long time about that. I left them alone to get ready.

About 20 minutes before showtime, all of the performers, including our super-secret guests, gathered backstage. Paul gave the pre-show pep talk, and I found an empty hallway to go over my introduction.

I paced around, talking through my points, directing myself, and trying to find that elusive intro I was convinced I should have just written.

I don't know exactly when it happened, but in the dim light of that corridor, with the growing murmurs of the audience filling the theater – the sold out and standing-room-only theater! – it came to me: this w00tstock is special because it's at Comic-Con. I didn't want to do this show, because I didn't think anyone would come, on account of how many things there are to do at Comic-Con. I was wrong, and that's awesome.

Once I had that, the entire introduction came together, and not a moment too soon. "You have about five minutes," our stage manager (who we call our Dungeon Master) Liz, told me.

"Thank you, five minutes," I said. For the first time since I walked into the theater, I felt more excitement than fear about talking the stage and introducing the show. I may have done a very subdued bit of pogo-ing in the empty corridor after Liz walked away.

The show began. The audience went crazy. We went crazy. We all threw themed underpants at Paul and Storm during Opening Band (mine had 8====D on the front, which is twice as funny if you know the reference). We all crowded around the side of the stage to watch the show.

Molly came out early, accompanied by security, and began her set. "Would you be Molly's music stand?" A voice said.

I turned around and saw Chris, holding a sheet of paper with lyrics written on it. Across the top, it said, "OMG LEARNING A NEW SONG!"

"I would love to do that," I said. I took the paper and carefully held it while Molly sang about breaking up with Wikipedia.

She called me up to the stage, and I had the most fun I've ever had being a music stand. If you were there, you know how great it was, and now you know that she and Jason learned the song and put it all together in a little less than one hour. (I know, right?)

One more Molly memory before I move on to the rest of the show: Molly played an all-request ninja show in the parking lot during the intermission that was watched by all of the performers, and about 1/3 of the audience. It was simply magical, and I am not ashamed to admit that I may have wiped a few proud tears off my face while she sang. I mean, when I was her age, if I'd found myself in a similar situation, I probably would have been pissed at how stupid and unfair the whole thing was, and that would have been the end of it for me. Molly, on the other hand, learned and modified a song – and performed it for a sold-out theater – and then played an acoustic show in the parking lot during intermission. I once said that Molly Lewis is a national treasure, and now you know why.

The majority of the show is a blur of squee and laughter and OMG. Adam observed that everyone came off stage just beaming with joy. As a performer, to have that feeling … it's one of the greatest things in the world. If you were in that audience, and you helped us feel that way: thank you.

A few things stand out for me, though, like how amazing Marian Call was live, how much Chris Hardwick killed with his set, how Jamy Ian Swiss blew our minds so thoroughly, nobody could hear me yelling "WITCH!" over the applause and cheering. I got to stand next to the stage while Rifftrax did Lunchroom Manners (aka Mister Bungle) LIVE. Matt Fraction destroyed the audience with THE BATMAN DREAMS OF HIERONYMUS MACHINES, just like he did at w00tPDX.

I know that I'm forgetting things, and for that I am sorry. Like I said, the show really was a blur of squee and laughter and OMG, and I know I'll remember things in the days to come, so until the updates begin to shake themselves out of my brain, let me close with this:

One of the great surprises for everyone was when my friend
Aaron Douglas, who played The Chief on BSG, came out during my Rocky
Horror story (the joke was, "Hey, I asked for toast, not a toaster!").
It was so much fun for me to introduce Aaron to everyone backstage, and
watch them squee to various degrees. It was especially fun for me to
stand on the stage when Aaron walked out – in his frakking flight suit from the show! – to thunderous applause. It was incredible.

When the four hour show was over (The Captain's Wife's Lament was especially fun, and clocked in at a relatively-reasonable 25 minutes), we all went out to sign autographs and meet the audience. We signed for close to two hours, and finally finished a little after 2am.

I traded hugs and thank yous with everyone, and headed out of the theater with Fraction.

"Do you want to take a cab to the hotel?" Matt asked.

"No, I need to walk off the adrenaline of the show, even though I feel like I'm going to fall down any second from exhaustion."

"I totally get that," he said.

We walked down Fourth Street, toward the convention center. Homeless people slept in doorways and drunk nerds staggered out of bars and clubs. An energy crackled through the cool, foggy air: It was Comic-Con weekend, and w00tstock was just the beginning.

56 thoughts on “memories of w00tstock 2.4”

  1. “I didn’t want to do this show, because I didn’t think anyone would come, on account of how many things there are to do at Comic-Con”
    Seriously? Come ON! w00tstock far surpasses just about anything at Comic-Con. Or anywhere, for that matter. Please, come East? Pretty please?

  2. Thanks for an amazing show, Wil. You have so much to be proud about and w00tstock is such an incredible heart project that’s found resonance with nerds, geeks, and outcasts of all backgrounds.
    I was at the show in LA last year and you were kind enough to record a birthday greeting for my girlfriend, who couldn’t be there.
    She was there at San Diego and had an absolute blast. She couldn’t stop talking about it after the show was over – especially getting to take a picture with Aaron Douglas! Thanks for making her Comic-Con trip a little extra special this year.

  3. w00tstock rocked so hard. Everyone was amazing, but I’m giving extra points to Molly for learning the frakking song day of. Holy carp, that’s awesome.
    While there is a ton of stuff to do at Comic-Con, w00tstock was easily the best part, hands down.

  4. You all were amazing, and attending my first w00tstock without really knowing what to expect was an amazing experience! Now when people ask me what w00tstock is I answer :
    It’s where awesome meets epic and creates WIN!
    Thanks for letting us be apart of that

    Stephen

  5. Molly sold out all of her CDs that night, too, in case any of you read this and feared for her livelihood.
    Wil, it was a pleasure to support you guys with merch minioneering. We should do it again sometime.

  6. Just to turn the whole “too much to do at Comic Con” thing on its head, I flew down to San Diego specifically for w00tstock, and then bought a day pass for the con as an afterthought. It was brilliant fun, even better than you had all described on podcasts and blogs and tweets and whatever. It was a giant party, one I hated to see end.
    By the way, I have a few pictures on Flickr that you might enjoy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/disorderly/ Apologies for the quality, but the lighting and my poor choice of lens made things challenging.

  7. I live on the East Coast and followed as much of Comic Con & W00tstock as I could through the intar-webs. Pretty please with a cherry on top can you bring W00tstock to NY Comic Con in October (or just ever in NYC for that matter)? I would squee with joy if you did.

  8. PDX would be more than happy to keep you in beer for as long as you’re here. :-D
    So, moving here would keep you in “embarrassment of riches” for the rest of your life. :-P

  9. I utterly adore your writing, Wil. As someone who has little hope of ever witnessing w00tstock first-hand, it really is a pleasure to read your insights and experiences. So, thank you, and please keep it up!

  10. I am currently uploading most of w00tstock 2.4 (half of Part 1 got eaten in a terrible technological meltdown).
    Part 2 is almost completely uploaded to YouTube. Should be finished my Midnight (hopefully). Partial Part 1 should be available by Midnight tomorrow (hopefully).
    It takes an awful long time to edit, render and upload over 12 gig of video.
    w00tstock was awesome per usual!
    To watch what is already uploaded, I’ve created a handy dandy playlist:
    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=EBB8C476BB45D9A3
    Act 2 up until Captain’s Wife’s Lament is up there. Part 1 of 4 of TCWL should be available in the next 20 minutes.

  11. It’s not up to Wil, Paul & Storm or Adam to get them to the East Coast. It’s up to us fans. They say that if at least 300 people say on Eventful that they’ll go to a w00tstock in any given location, they’ll investigate going.
    Taking the increased cost of everything in NYC into consideration plus the documented fact that Wil hates flying, I think that if we can get at least 500 people to say on Eventful that we’ll go see a w00tstock in NYC, then they’d have to take us seriously, right?

  12. Best frakkin’ part of SDCC this year! Hands down! I can only echo what everyone else has said about how amazingly awesome and epic it was.
    Also, my inner theatre geek squeed a little that night when you introduced Liz, and I squeed even more when I read that you answered “Thank you, five minutes.” I’m a stage manager and that is one of my favorite sounds backstage :)

  13. Wil, thanks for an awesome time at w00stock. For folks like me that didn’t get Comic-con passes, w00tstock was a great opportunity to hang out with a bunch of cool people. Molly’s ninja concert was wonderful, and I was happy to get video of it (even if it was with my cellphone). Also, how nice and awesome is Marian Call? I ended up going to three of her gigs this weekend, and had a great time at each one, especially at the Saturday gig where only 3 of us showed up, but she held a sidewalk concert on the steps outside for us anyway. Thanks for introducing me to her music at w00tstock.
    All you guys are just awesome.

  14. Wil, the show sounded awesome and you made me even sadder than I already was for being a poor college student on the east coast, and not being able to attend comic con.
    You should totally do a w00tstock in New York for all of us East Coast nerds. The West Coast seems to get all of the fun.

  15. It WAS a great show Wil, the whole Molly deal really DID suck, but the good news is there IS a GREAT YouTube Video of it posted in case anyone missed it. (And not many did!) Molly KILLED both on stage and at “MollyStock” in the parking lot. Seeing Aaron as well as Jamie H. was GREAT fun, and the Digt./Audio Interviews I got from attendees was PRICELESS, W00tstock is all about people! Thanks for having The NeverHood there, and our coverage of the show along with Adam and Paul’s Interviews will broadcast on Tuesday the 27th. I’ll tell you THIS, everyone had a GREAT time! I know we did. Thanks again!

  16. All of you deserve a TON of credit for putting together what could be summed up as nothing short of a most fantastic and entertaining evening of randomness and hilarity. All of who went enjoyed ourselves IMMENSELY! Seriously, it was enjoyment++!
    Molly did great job making the best of the circumstances, and as one positive thing for ME was being able to say hi and wish her well prior to the show, even if I did go kind of nervous fanboy on her despite my best efforts to be cool about it all.
    You sir, KILLED IT! The “A Moment with Wil Wheaton” shorts, the paradox t-shirt pose, the epic Rocky Horror tale (which I had already read but found it WAY cooler in person with OMG-AARON-DOUGLAS-IN-HIS-FLIGHTSUIT-SQUEEEEEEE in the most perfect moment imaginable.
    Phil, Adam, The Rifftrax guys, Jamy Ian Swiss and the whole “Mr. Wizard” reference (that threw me back to childhood right there! Mr. Wizard was MY FAVORITE SHOW back in those days!), the INCREDIBLE VOICE of Marian Call (blew..my..mind!).. etc. etc. Everything == GOLD!
    I know I’m giving this far less justice than it deserves, but if you guys decided to make this an annual Comic-con event, I would absolutely be there! That night was just so epic, so fun, so incredibly awesome! You couldn’t help but feel a camaraderie with everyone on and off the stage throughout the event. It was HOME. Not even just HOME, but the best party at home you’ve ever had with the coolest people you’ve ever met all riffing off each other and having a great time!
    My only regret is not being able to stay long enough to shake your hands and just say the two words that were probably shared by every single person in the room: THANK YOU!

  17. Wil – w00tstock was easily the best part of the Comic-con for my and my group (and Comic-con was pretty awesome). We were lucky enough to get seats near the front & watching you, Aaron, Adam & the rest of the performers geek out offstage when someone else was up made it extra-fabulous. It was so refreshing to see a group of friends who find that much joy in the awesomeness of each other (and then share that awesomeness with us lucky people).
    Thank you, thank you!!!! I can’t wait for the next one.

  18. Gotta tell ya, Wheaton… you are one HELL of a story teller! I look forward to the day that I can get to an actual w00tstock.

  19. Excellent photos. I love how Adam Savage didn’t look that much different after he’d taken the headpiece off. ;)
    And they had Jamie, too!

  20. I wish they would invent personal transporters already. It would make visiting the US for w00tstock so much easier.
    Instead I have to rely on your tales and the uploads from the punters.
    Please continue, it’s a wonderful idea and now you know that you can fill a theatre even with nerd central next door. You guys rock.

  21. For reason convoluted, and mostly work related, I wasn’t going to be in town for comic-con this year. Luckily for me, my trip was cancelled just early enough to let out an excited “W00t!” and run to the box office for tix!
    The show was fantastic! So much awesome stuff that I’m still trying to process it all. My nerd adjacent wife loved the show as well. She agreed to go because Adam was going to be there and she’s a Mythbusters fan. By the time the show ended I’m pretty sure she was a fan of a bunch more talented people.
    Our thanks to you Wil, and the rest of the talented people (and Dungeon Masters) who made this show happen!

  22. We sat near the side of the stage where you guys would watch the other performers and it was almost as much of a treat to see you cracking up at your fellow w00tstockers. It’s such a positive, fun atmosphere. Thank you for another great night. (We got to see LA, too! Come back soon!)

  23. “I realize that this doesn’t sound nearly as funny now as it did to me at the time.”
    No, that’s great; I intend to say something like that to my spouse the next time he idly wonders if he should get rid of the beard. Whenever he gives into the temptation, he regrets it and goes running back into the hairy faced fold tout-de-suite.

  24. w00tstock 2.4 sounds like it was amazing. Thanks for writing about it for those who weren’t there. I really need to go to one of the w00tstock shows, assuming y’all do more. They always sound fantastic.
    Cheers.

  25. Wil: Sounds like another great Wootstock. Congrats on the show to all involved.
    I have not yet been to a Wootstock, so I am hoping that you will keep them going, and perhaps bring the show to Vancouver, BC so I can get to it. Maybe you can combine with a trip to work on Eureka, (another great performance, btw.)
    I find it interesting that your TBBT, Eureka, and The Guild charactors, who could so easily be the same person, are actually individuals in their own right. I can only attribute that to your acting skills.
    Can’t wait to see you on TBBT again!

  26. Seeing W00tstock through your eyes make me feel like actually being there and thanks to people sharring video on you tubes, I get to see all the awesomeness. I also would love to see the show live on the east coast. Thanks again for the story, I look forward to rest of the weekend stories. Have a great night.

  27. Thanks for the mentions on the photos. It was a great vantage point (that’s what she said).
    Oh yes, forgot to mention this… my first real kiss was on the eve of my 16th birthday, from a Dungeon Master.

  28. Thank you & everyone else involved with making this show happen. It was the highlight of the Con for me and my girlfriend, and we loved every minute of it. I’m bummed that Adam wasn’t around for the post-show signing, because I’d love to get his autograph in my D&D Divine Power “yearbook” with all the others!
    I feel like a douche for not having anything more interesting to say than, “Thanks for the show,” both in person and in these comments.
    Dejected arr.
    Free Molly.

  29. Such an AMAZING show all around, Wil. Thank you and everyone for having the passion to put such wonderment together. I bow down to Molly and her powers of awesome. Can’t wait to see where her talent takes her!
    THANK YOU FOR MAKING FUNS!
    PS: Totally heard the “Witch” shout and damn near peed myself.

  30. Wil,
    Thanks for the excellent show. If you don’t do one (or more) next Comic-Con, there might be rioting in the streets. I also wanted to personally thank you for 1.) Being cool enough to sign my w00tstock poster outside Hall 6A after your Eureka screening and 2.) Advising me that I chose correctly when I left w00tstock at intermission (but after seeing Molly sing outside) to go to the Flynn’s Arcade preview show. That was a nerd’s Sophie’s Choice and your comment helped me feel better about it.
    In return, here are my ~200 shots from the floor, using my Nikon D90 + a friends’s 105/2.8. Good camera + good glass + w00tstock 2.4 = 100% win. http://picasaweb.google.com/103165668148592761869/W00tstock24#

  31. Wil, I didn’t come to Comic-Con this year to frak around. I had a press pass this year and didn’t waste it. ;-)
    When you announced “no flash photography” I removed the stock 18-105/3.5-5.6 and threw on the 105/2.8. That baby I borrowed from an awesome geek friend who knew what I was shooting and approved. I also used my handy 50/1.8, which is great for $100. Sorry, I’ve been a camera geek almost as long as my other vices.
    Feel free to browse the gallery. The first few of you on stage aren’t great, as I was calibrating to the stage lighting, but they’re overall fairly decent. I would have loved a better spot, but even from the back of the seated section it was awesome. Of course, if a better spot could be arranged, I’ll burn out multiple 8gig SD cards towards the cause. {cough} {COUGH}

  32. w00tstock 2.4 was my first, but definitely not my last. I think the adrenaline pumping through my body during the signing session was going to cause my heart to stop, but you and Aaron instantly made me feel at ease.
    I look forward to more good times on the JoCo Cruise.

  33. My band just recently played our first large-venue show this past weekend, so I’m glad that we got to share such a wonderful feeling in the all-connecting blanket of existence. Congratulations on what you–and the audience–consider to be a successful w00tstock!
    On a side note, THANK YOU SO MUCH for the proper usage of the possessive-apostrophe-sans-letter-S after the polysyllabic noun. Too many bloggers seem to believe that you shouldn’t have any respect for language just because the content is your own.

  34. Wow… that is an amazing piece of writing Wil. You’ve captured something special about the start of the 21st century, and a world made of communities linked with social networking and technology. Humanity shines through in every word and reflection you make.
    I’m writing this from Oz, so do not have as clear grasp of what is truly like to be at an event like w00tstock. Despite that, this piece still manages to radiate something cherished and magical about this time in our lives – not a mean feat at all.
    Kind Regards – Thanks for sharing
    H

  35. w00tstock was easily the best part of my trip to san diego and comicon. it was certainly the most fun i had sitting in line for anything all week. where else could you sit in line for 2 hours, get free ice cream AND onion rings only to be further rewarded with 4 hours of pure squee and the photo with wil wheaton that you’ve been dreaming of since you were 9?
    so thank you wil and w00tstock for making my babymoon easily 1000 times more awesome than my honeymoon.
    my pictures all turned out to suck except for the one with me and wil and ninja storm. but you’re all welcome to see them on my facebook when i post them anyway. next time i will pack less clothes to make room for the good camera equipment.

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