|Some of my wares.|
Overall I would say the con was well-organized and seemed to run smoothly. The schedule set a relaxed pace, both by having built-in meal breaks and by only have one track of panels. The meal breaks are a fantastic idea (one that I first saw at Clockwork Con), but I don't really like having only one panel going on at a time. I understand some of the reasoning: not to overload the staff and attendees with running around from location to location. It also allowed almost all of the con events to be held on the ground floor. But I think there should be two panels at a time, to allow people to find things they are most interested in. The panels at Aetherfest this year focused on ideas, discussions, and community building. Which is great, but I think a second track focused on practical making panels would be awesome. One philosophical track, one practical maker track? Sounds like heaven to me.
I only was able to attend one panel all weekend and that was the Regional Steampunk panel. It involved all the out-of-state guests talking about regional trends in steampunk and how things differ from place to place. It was interesting and entertaining. My favorite moment was when one panelist commented on the "Tex-Mex" feel of our Texas steampunk outfits. The audience responded by asking what they were talking about. I'm still really curious about an outsider perspective of Texas steampunks, because obviously we don't see that kind of thing in ourselves. My husband made it to the steampunk music panel and the "State of Texas Steampunk" panel on Sunday and said they were both interesting.
|Steampunk Boba Fett with some young fans at the Alamo.|
Saturday evening's concert was fantastic, and a step up from last year's. It was held in the gorgeous hotel ballroom, rather than on the roof, and the sound was excellent. (Something I couldn't say for the sound the year before.) Marquis of Vaudeville, a staple of Texas steampunk events, put on a really excellent set. I've seen them 4 times or so, and can confidently say this was the best performance of theirs I have seen. Plus they covered David Bowie's "Within You" from the movie Labyrinth (my favorite movie EVER) and The Cure's "Burn" from The Crow, and they were both excellent covers.
|Steampunks on Parade|
Unwoman was headlining, and she was awesome. I had never heard of her prior to the con, but I have a new performer who I would attend a con just to see. She plays electric cello, using a sampler delay to layer different cello parts on top of each other. And she has an amazing voice. She did a mixture of original songs and covers and both were impressive. In particular, her covers of Placebo's "Running up that Hill" and the Firefly theme song were especially memorable. Seriously, everyone needs to check her out. I bought her cd of covers, "Uncovered", and the covers of "Billie Jean" and "Shout" in particular are awesome. I'll be buying her original albums soon as well.
|My husband in I in our |
unintentionally matching outfits.
Overall, it seems to have been a really great time for everyone. I'm not sure how financially successful it was. It seems that within the Texas steampunk community there are about 300-400 people who are guaranteed to show up. I'm not sure what the numbers actually were, but I think we need to find ways to hold events that are guaranteed profitable with that minimum number of attendees. I'm obviously not a con organizer, so I don't know how that would work, it's just something I'm thinking about. I'm not criticizing, but I do worry about the financial side of events because I want them to be able to continue, which won't happen if they are not financially sound.
I got to chat with a bunch of people who were either first-time con attendees or new to steampunk and they all were very positive about both the con and steampunk itself. It's always fantastic to see the gleam in someone's eyes when they say, "This steampunk stuff is SO AWESOME." It's the kind of thing those of us who have been doing this longer sometimes forget about. Look how cool this all is! If you can't get excited about a group of steampunks coming together to show off all their cool stuff and build community, well, something just ain't right. ;)