Coachella wrapped up this weekend and big things happened. But even if they didn’t, the few friends who went that you’re Facebook friends with probably gloated it was the GREATEST event in the history of mankind.
This got us to thinking — if all the hassle including access, logistics, transportation, meals and accommodations were taken care of and the entire trip was comped, which annual U.S. event would you opt to attend? Below the staff of The Comeback chime in.
Joe Lucia – Reading comprehension foiled my first suggestion (Ed. note: Joe submitted going to the Running Of the Bulls. We suggested an email reading seminar instead). So for my second suggestion, I’ll go ahead and say E3. Now, I’m not a huge gamer — at least not to the same degree as many of my friends. But I still game quite frequently, and think it would be awesome to roll into E3 and experience all of the demos and presentations that the event has to offer. And hey, maybe, just maybe, experiencing E3 would bring me out of my gaming bubble a little bit and broaden my horizons… which would probably be an awful thing for my wallet in the long run.
Sean Keeley – I’m torn in two directions. On one hand, I like the idea of invading an event that I am not particularly excited about, but is made for a group of people for whom this is the ultimate reason for living. The Gathering of the Juggalos or Burning Man, for instance. I have zero interest in anything that goes on at either, personally, but I would be riveted to just people-watch all day long. Books and longreads about doing just that have already been written so I suppose that ship has sailed.
I’m not a big music person, so Coachella and SXSW are out. I’ve done Comic-Con and it’s more hype than substance. What I am, personally, a fan of is movies, and I think if there’s one major non-sports event that I would like to attend at least once it would be the Sundance Film Festival. I know, I know, it’s become exceedingly pretentious and is known more for style and being seen, But I’d just love to go as a fan of cinema and just hop from screening to screening all day long. You can have your photo ops, I’ll be too busy taking in my sixth movie of the day. Plus, given the scenery outside, it’s not the worst place in the world to find yourself when the films are over.
Matt Yoder – The one event I would attend is Mardi Gras. Sure there are lots of festivals and conferences and what-not that dot the landscape of pop culture, but all of those are so caught up in being an “event” that they’re losing their purity and unique value. If you’ve been to one music festival, you’ve been to them all. But Mardi Gras doesn’t need to be swept up in this wave because it truly does stand alone as a unique, one-of-a-kind cultural happening. What better place than New Orleans to have the time of your life?
Alex Putterman – The easy choice for me is induction weekend at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cooperstown is so charming, and I can only imagine it’s even better during induction weekend, when all-time great players are milling all around everyone and baseball feels like the most important thing in the world. I’ll be there when Derek Jeter gets inducted in the summer of 2020, even if I have to trade an arm to make it happen.
But while I was thinking about this question, I kept thinking back to that sports collector convention Bill Simmons used to write those massive diaries about. In the unlikely event I ever end up with more disposable income than I know what to do with, I would love to spend a few days burning cash on sports memorabilia I will be 100% purchasing within months.
Ben Koo – I spent WAY too much time thinking and researching this (like I do everything). Some popular events just seem awful to me. “Hey, lets go to the desert and drink booze getting super-dehydrated in the dusty heat!” No fucking way. After coming to grips with the reality that there wasn’t an annual hang-out with Larry David at a Jewish deli event, I settled on the Sundance Film Festival (although shooting insane guns at the Big Sandy Shoot was tempting, but the lack of good food/accommodations nixed that idea).
I like movies. I like talking about movies. I like knowing about good under the radar movies before they come out. I like drunkenly forcing people to watch trailers of movies they haven’t heard of. That’s my thing. Whatever. Why not a film festival?
I researched Sundance vs. Telluride at great length but ultimately realized Telluride overlaps with one of the best college football weekends of the year. Strike one. Everyone also comments on how it’s super difficult to get there. Strike two. Then there was a lot of commentary on how “you won’t find big splashy sexy corporate parties here.” I probably have 25 corporate parties left in me before I grow jaded to them. It’s free food and booze at a dressed up venue with free swag. What’s not to like? But ultimately, it wasn’t the added length of the festival between Sundance and Telluride, or that you can also use the festival as an excuse to go skiing, or it apparently has awesome shuttle service people are in love with. Remember my hesitancy to go somewhere and die of dehydration? Apparently, this will definitely not happen at Sundance.
“Even though it’s cold, you still need refreshment. As much as in a hot climate, you need water to keep your body pumping. Luckily, Sundance gives you a water bottle to carry with you, and refill stations at every theater. Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration and hypothermia are not a good combo.”
Movies, skiing, corporate parties, modest conflict with the sports calendar, not far from an airport, and amazing shuttles and hydration stations. OMG, maybe even Larry David will be there.
Andrew Bucholtz – The one event I would absolutely love to attend is the Origins Game Fair in Columbus in June (so I’m jealous of Matt‘s proximity there). It’s become one of the best board game conventions around, comparable to Indianapolis’ GenCon, but Origins would be my pick because it’s reportedly a better experience for actually playing games rather than just seeing and buying new releases. It has over 4,500 events centered around all sorts of games, from board games to card games to war games to role-playing games to miniatures games. Between industry and designer panels, new releases, open gaming and more, it sounds like a great event for anyone interested in games. There’s even a film festival this year, centered around gaming, science-fiction and fantasy (also up my alley). Origins has been around since 1975 and has been in Columbus since 1996, and it had almost 16,000 unique attendees last year. It may not be on the wider cultural radar, but for those of us who love games, it sounds like the perfect event.
Matt Clapp – When I first considered the options for this, I was leaning toward the MLB Winter Meetings because I’m a baseball nut and just annually reload Twitter over and over those days, while having MLB Network on in front of me at the same time. I think it would be really cool to be around the front office members, maybe overhear some hot stove chatter or talk to a Theo Epstein over a drink in the lobby bar, etc.
But then I realized I’d 100% be lying to myself about which event I’d probably have the most fun at. Lying to myself about being a boring, responsible adult.
Hands down i’d have the most fun at Mardi Gras. Running around the streets of New Orleans with one of those yard drinks constantly in hand for a few days (until I pass out in a gutter) and forgetting about everything else in life. Yeah you can do the same thing in Las Vegas (and trust me I have), but being right in the thick of the New Orleans Culture and festivities would really be a blast.
Phillip Bupp – Thinking about this long and hard, I would go to Comic-Con. It’s a place to channel your inner nerd, whatever that may be. That’s my kind of scene.
With everything that Comic-Con offers now, it would appear as if it’s overwhelming and there is definitely no way to see and do everything. Just looking over the schedule from last year to see what all was there and I could’ve had an awesome time by Thursday afternoon, much less all four days. But if I was given the kind of access the elite would get, I’m sure I would have an incredible four days.
Ian Casselberry – Well, Sean and Ben already mentioned Sundance, which would be my first choice. Cold weather, movies, and a chance to bump into actors, directors and writers I admire sounds pretty damn fantastic. I also love the idea of getting an early look at films that will be in theaters later in the year or the following year. (Ben, if you ever go, ring me up and I’ll chip in on The Comeback’s Park City condo rental for the week.)
But there’s another festival which might be just as fun, if not more so. The weather would be a hell of a lot better. Both barbecue and tacos are in close proximity. And along with movies, music and tech are also featured. I’d love to attend the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival someday. Even if I wasn’t attending SXSW, I’ve been meaning to visit Austin for years. I can only imagine it would be even more fun during the festival, however.
The tech and social media aspects of SXSW potentially make it even more intriguing than Sundance. As much as I love movies (and certainly enjoy writing about them), outlets like Twitter and apps such as Foursquare emerged into the culture at SXSW, and innovations like that have a chance of being a far bigger part of my life, from both a personal and professional standpoint. It would be exciting to learn about developing technologies and media on the cutting edge of the culture, and possibly take part in that emergence.
Websites and podcasts are increasingly a part of the festival’s culture as well, which can only enrich the content being presented at the festival. Concerning movies, maybe it’s an even better experience, including panel discussions and podcast recordings, in addition to Q&As with filmmakers and their casts.
That is, if I didn’t sleep through most of that stuff after all the tacos and barbecue I’d consume…
How about you?