Every year, the Sundance Film Festival runs a little different for me. This year was no different. Completely on my own this year (my wife also attended the 2010 and 2011 festival as press), I was completely content with heading up the mountain and squeezing in as many Press & Industry screenings as possible. But nothing ever goes completely according to plans, right? With the weather hovering 40 degrees with crystal clear skies, it couldn’t be riper for possibilities.
On opening night (Jan. 17), I drove up to Park City and attended the Wii U Video Challenge Premier Party at the Nintendo Lounge on Main Street. Three fan-made videos were in competition against each other, all relying on our voting via text. While the video I voted for didn’t win, it appeared to really come down to who had invited the most friends to the party. With h’orderves and wine flowing as freely as you’d guess at a Sundance party, it was on Friday (Jan. 18) that the lounge really kicked into gear. Let me tell ya, Billy Ray was the bartender on hand and never question him on whether he can get you drunk.
With my colleague Jimmy Martin of Big Movie Mouth-Off and Slug Magazine towing me along, we made our drunken way up to the top of Main Street for the daily Sundance HQ Pre-Party. Every afternoon the bar is open, with an RSVP of course, hosting celebrities, press, and a few lucky ones, all sharing the room to imbibe, catch a bite to eat, or grab a coffee to go.
Our next stop, to waste time until we made our triumphant attempt to get me into the Sound City concert, was at the newly launched Video Podcast Network hosting a smorgasbord of comedy all-stars. We made it in time to grab a few screwdrivers and find a spot to stand for the “Comedy Bang Bang” with host Scott Aukerman. Unfortunately, this wound up being the biggest disappointment of the entire festival. Tom Lennon (Reno 911!) took the stage wearing his disguise of aviator sunglasses and took off on a “comedic” episode involving one joke worn thin within minutes of him using a “funny” voice.
We bade our goodbyes to the door girl and headed off to find something to eat, and sober up, before we got in line for the Sound City Concert. I don’t have to tell you what a show that was. Sound City happens to be one of the best documentaries playing the festival I didn’t see. But the concert was a sight to behold. Just to give you an idea: it was a 40-some odd song, three hour concert hosted by Dave Grohl himself (along with his fellow Foo Fighters and Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear), featuring John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield, Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine), Corey Taylor (Slipknot), Chris Goss, Alain Johannes, Lee Ving, Jessy Greene, Rami Jaffee! I may not be getting too old for an event of this magnitude, but I was definitely wearing the wrong shoes. And the drunken moron girl next to me certainly wasn’t doing my mood any favors. It’s a good thing I was at this show. I was one of the luckiest festival attendees of the weekend.