As Rush fans bask in the afterglow of the R40 DVD release, we pause for our own retrospective. To relive the memories of a summer of two RushCons and our fifteenth anniversary of celebrating our beloved Canadian band.
With Rush playing two concerts in their hometown during the R40 Tour, PLUS filming the live DVD show? We knew throwing 2 conventions this year would be tough. We were stretched pretty thin already. But if this was the last tour, there was no way we could miss that, could we?
We kicked off the week with a meet up and then onto the first concert at the AAC. (You know, the one they were taping for the DVD!
We had a day off between shows, so Eddy organized a really cool pub crawl, exploring local Toronto watering holes.
Today was our big day! We had a huge pre-party planned at the Hard Rock Cafe. So many people showed up! It was the place TO BE before the show that night.
The highlight of our gathering was announcing the winner of our game, and telling her the prize she was about to get.
With the concerts over, we had a nice easy day to tour Anthem Records and take a bus tour of Toronto. Stopping at all the Rush landmarks. The day ended with an awesome party at The Orbit Room, with a private show featuring David Barrett Trio.
We jumped onto the double decker buses and away we went!
On a balmy summer night in July, RushCon made it's inaugural debut in the City of Angels. Once we learned that the show at the Forum was the final gig of the R40 tour, no force on earth was going to stop us from being there!
Let the prep work begin! We had so many ideas and visions for this convention. We wanted it to be the most memorable experience for our attendees. But we also wanted to show the band how much they mean to us. We had a really amazing opportunity to do so. Thus, the Star Men were born. We had to hand assemble 300 of these in the span of 2 days, in a tiny hotel room. Hands, hearts, bottles of glue, and lots of Diet Cokes later, things were starting to shape up. We knew we just had to get these into the hands of the fans.. HOW we were going to do that? We just crossed our fingers.
The weekend kicked off with our customary Friday Night Mixer at the Club Nokia VIP lounge. An exclusive private venue awash with purple light, decorated with flags featuring imagery spanning Rush's entire career, Rush videos playing on the monitors, Rush tunes blasting through the speakers.
What better way to spend a Friday night?
Once folks had a chance to mingle with new friends, catch up with old buddies, and peruse the RushCon merch stand, everyone was divided up into teams to play Holly's Evil Lyric Paper Game™. Team names were based on opposing lyrical references. As in Oaks versus Maples, Didacts versus Narpets and so on.
More fun was had with drinks, conversation, perusing RushCon merch and the RushCon Photo Booth was a massive hit with all.
Our Saturday events took place in the Belasco Theater, a beautifully detailed venue with a history dating back to 1904.
The day kicked off with our first guest speaker, author Kevin J. Anderson in his third RushCon appearance. He started off with a slide-show presentation (anyone for sauerkraut?), some anecdotes and insights into working with Neil & his own career as an author.
Making his RushCon debut, Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon took to the stage for beautiful acoustic performances of "Save Me From Myself" and "Instamatic" before teaming up with Kevin to answer questions from the fans.
After their appearance, Kevin & Matt repaired to their respective vendor tables to sell their wares, sign autographs and take photos with the fans. We can definitively state for the record that both these gentlemen are absolute sweethearts!
Meanwhile, back in the theater, our first game of the day was underway: Our ever popular Words of the Profits.
Two teams, two players to a team, one has to guess the Word whilst the other proffers clues. The trick is NOT to use one of the five forbidden clues. Sounds simple, but it's far more challenging in practice, with often hilarious results.
Gilbert & Teresa (Team #2) put in an awesome effort, but Beverley & Jill (Team #1) won the day!
On the heels of Words of the Profits came our unique twist on Rush karaoke - Singing BU2B. Our contestants were Vicki, Lisa, Jose & Ken. Each contestant had to complete enough Rush lyrics correctly in round one to proceed to round two. The first catch was that they had to sing the missing lyrics a capella. The second catch was round two was karaoke with lyric lines removed from the display.
We've played this game once before, at RushCon 14. This time, one of those beautiful moments that make RushCon memorable occurred: When one of the players tripped up on the words, the whole audience joined in and sang along to fill in the gaps.
All four players sang beautifully, but Vicki was our ultimate winner!
Throughout the day, the lobby and front bar areas showcased the wares of Rush Backstage Club, Fantoons, Kevin J. Anderson and Matt Scannell. Our Charity Auction items were also on display, for folks to marvel at as they planned their attack for the auction later that afternoon!
Our final event of the day was our annual RushCon Charity Auction. As always, the bids came fast & furious, with big ticket items going for amounts that made the audience gasp.
In previous years, we have focused on a single charity. This year, we gave folks the option of choosing from a selection of charities for auction proceeds.
All up, we raised a total of $13,165, thanks to the generosity of our bidders!
Everyone returned to the hotel to freshen up before jumping back on the school buses and heading to the Forum.
There was a strange energy in the air. The anticipation and excitement of an impending Rush concert, tinged with the bittersweetness of this being the last show of the tour...and for good.
As everyone exited the buses, the team & helpers handed out plastic Star men with lights, to be held up during "Closer to the Heart". We were nervous that they would get confiscated by venue security, but with a little "help from our friends" we smuggled a giant box load in.
What followed can only be described as one of the most emotional Rush gigs this chronicler has ever experienced. Fans of all stripes, of many years or relative newcomers, all joined to sing along with the band that has been an integral part of our lives.
We journeyed back through time with them with cheers, laughs and tears.
We laughed at the hilarious celebrity rap during "Roll the Bones".
We cried to Jonathan Dinklage's blazing violin during "Losing It".
We were frantically handing out Star Men to everyone in the front section, and showing them how to turn on the lights. It was a lot to ask of fans to participate in our little show, but the when those first guitar sounds of CTTH came on, we turned on our light, held our wand up high, and looked behind us. It was a galaxy of lights. Waving back and forth. It was a sight we will never forget.
There are no more words, just this:
After an overwhelming Saturday night, we had a much-needed early afternoon start for Sunday's events. Our "Star Map of Hollywood" double-decker bus tour of Los Angeles was just what the Professor ordered!
We took in the sights of LA, passing famous landmarks such as the Sunset Strip and the Capitol Records Building. We even caught a brief glance of the Hollywood sign in the hills.
We made a couple of stops along the way, namely the Rush star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Guitar Center Hollywood Rock Walk. The former had us lining up on the sidewalk as we took turns taking photos at Rush's star (much to the bemusement of passers-by). The latter was hand print comparison time!
After pausing for a group photo outside Guitar Center, we hopped back on the bus and made our way back to the hotel to rest and shower before the final event.
RushCon 15 came to an end with our exclusive closing party at the Grammy Museum.
Some folks became absorbed in the interactive exhibits showcasing various artists & genres in musical history. Others gathered around bar tables to mingle with friends, old & new alike.
We had a few final prize giveaways before taking our last photos, giving goodbye hugs and saying our last farewells, as everyone scattered into the Los Angeles night.
Our beloved band has now left the road, most likely for good. But their music will live on in our hearts & minds for many years to come and will pass on through the generations.
Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart - we honor you and we thank you for forty years of amazing music and live performances. Your music has changed our lives forever.
What does the future hold for RushCon? Gears are turning, minds are wandering. Stay tuned.
"A measure of a life is a measure of love and respect."
We are always so grateful for the continuing support from Anthem Records.
Very special thanks to this years support staff: Brian, Nancy, Judy, Dubs and Jesse.
Max, Todd, and Rodney for their heroic efforts year after year.
The staff at Club Nokia, The Great Hall and the Grammy Museum.
Paulie Beaulieu and The Canadian Music Scene.
Patrick and John at Showtech Merchandise, Rush Back Stage Club.
Dave Calcano at Fantoons
Tim Notter and Tim Wilson at The Orbit Room
From the bottom of our hearts, thanks to all our attendees. We look forward to seeing you each and every year. You make doing this so special and rewarding for us. Without you, there is no RushCon.
And of course, none of this magic would be possible without the tireless effort of Team RushCon. Jillian, Eddy Maxwell, Kristy Williams, Holly Smith and Mary Jo Plews. Thank you all!
Photos:Eddy Maxwell, Geony Ayyad (Toronto), Kristy Williams
A nice video recap of the main event..