Experiencing the Other Side of the Convention Coin at Chi-Fi 2015

Posted on Apr 22 2015

ChiFi 2015 Report

Those who may have been keeping track of the website’s coming’s and going’s know that I am still one of the newer guys here at 91.8 The Fan. As such, I haven’t had many opportunities to meet, let alone work with, my fellow crazy nutjobs until I volunteered to help our very own Kanashimi at Chi-Fi on my only day off. What followed was a small taste of what it’s like to be on the opposite side of a convention experience.

Chi-Fi 2015 was a small con that snuck up on me; usually Chicago area cons that have any focus on anime, video games, and manga don’t escape me. It wasn’t until I heard word that the con existed and 91.8 The Fan, specifically Kana, Kroze and the rest of the Name Not Final cast, had been invited as guests that I volunteered to help. My purpose was twofold: I wanted to finally say hi to the big boss lady herself, and I wanted to be of some help as I had been a bit too absent from the website recently. Luckily, the convention was very happy to allow me in to assist, and the Saturday of the convention I got up early in order to (futilely) avoid traffic.

If there had to be only one thing I couldn’t stand about Chicago it would have to be traveling downtown using I-290. The anger, annoyance, and anxiety that came from having to travel that interstate highway knowing it was making me late for the convention was quite a blood boiling experience. However, I managed to stay alive despite the efforts of Chicago’s craziest drivers and soon enough I made my way to the hotel and our bass-bumping booth.

Let me say for the record that meeting Kana is great and if you haven’t been to a convention where we’re set up, then that needs to be corrected. It was my first time attending any convention as a helper of any sorts and so I was a bit lost; like a deer in headlights. Instead of running me over, Kana made sure to go over everything I needed to keep the booth up and running. I got to meet our great guest handler, the infamous Kroze, and the lovely Kieran Strange. But by far the best part of my short time helping at Chi-Fi was making Kana introduce me to The Duke, Jon St. John. I shamelessly admit I had a fanboy moment.

Helping out at our booth did come with some hectic moments however. Small rushes of anxiety would rear up whenever Kana was called away for a panel and I would be left alone to watch the equipment, hoping that nothing would break. That, of course, paled in comparison to our utter confusion during the setup of our live concert/party featuring Kieran Strange, Kroze, and Baschfire. In the end, everything worked out great, I got to use my laptop as a cool little music visualizer, and we all had a lot of fun listening to some great music. Later on we all went on an interesting journey with The Duke as we started off with a strange homebrewed version of Cards Against Humanity, followed by running out into the cold wind to get McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, and Baskin Robbins.

I left Chicago at nearly 3 am for a 40 minute drive back home with a large amount respect for the work Kana puts into manning our booth during conventions while still making sure we’re not all about to burn down the servers or whatnot. I also have a sense of the strange and humbling state artists, and vendors must sit through during conventions. They’re there at the convention but, at the same time, they’re also not there. They can’t just get up and go to as many cool panels and see as many cool guests as they can. They have a responsibility to their work and their wares that supersedes the fun and freedom that normal convention attendees experience. That’s dedication. While it’s not my cup of tea and I’d rather take in everything that the convention offers as an attendee or member of the press, I certainly respect the other side of the booth.

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