Friday I was on the road most of the day, finally rolling into the Arlington Hilton around 5PM. Arlington is a pretty ridiculous place, nothing but theme parks and chain stores -- sort of the Anaheim of Texas. So I wasn't anxious to spend a lot of time there, and luckily my friend solipsiae bailed me out with tickets to Aesop Rock. It took me a long time to get there, thanks to one of the most ungodly traffic jams I've ever seen, but I finally arrived. After a drink and a little hit of nature at her boyfriend's apartment, we headed out for the gig, at a venue whose name I can't recall right but which was next to Gilley's (there were a few stragglers who clearly wanted to be at Gilley's). It was sterile and boring, but we got spots right up on the stage, so we were primed for royal house-rocking.
Opening up was Blockhead, the most bland-looking white man in hip-hop, who performed a DJ set along with a local turntablist. The local guy wasn't that great, but Block really tore it up, handing in one of the most furious sets I've ever heard. The joint was packed, so there wasn't a lot of room for dancing, but it really got people moving, and he used an effective combination of old-school beats and early '80s pop records along with tons of effects. Very cool.
Next was Black Moth Super Rainbow, a synth-and-vocoder-heavy dance-folk jam electronica outfit who didn't really do much for me. With the exception of a truly boring drummer, they were all pretty competent musicians, but the whole didn't add up to much, and they seemed pretty out of place given their lack of any noticeable hip-hop flavor. When your band is overshadowed by its own video presentation on the screen behind you, it might be time to rethink your musical attack. Also, the lead vocalist, who sang entirely through a jerry-rigged vocoder, sat on the floor behind a pre-amp and next to the keyboardist, so he was entirely invisible to much of the audience throughout the entire show. The keyboardist also sat on the floor for a couple of numbers. Not a particularly compelling stage presence.
It was at this point that the evening was almost entirely ruined by the arrival of a tall ponytailed dude, completely in the bag, and his hulking 300-pound white trash girlfriend, who was even more wasted. They pushed their way to the front of the stage, shoving people out of the way who'd been there all night, and proceeded to chainsmoke (in a venue where smoking was banned), spill their drinks all over people, and generally act like complete assholes. (The girl spent the entire Aesop Rock set with her tree-trunk arm out and an extended middle finger pointed at the stage.) No one could see over them, they kept nearly knocking a speaker over onto our group, and they got in the faces of anyone who asked them to knock it off. As is my wont, unfortunately, I tried to needle the guy into a fight, because I was super pissed at him and felt like running his face into a pole. He and I passed some words, but he wouldn't take the bait and throw the first blow, so nothing came of it; one of my friends, more level-headed than I, called security, but they were totally chickenshit and wouldn't toss them even after they caught them smoking. So that really soured the evening.
Finally, Aesop Rock came out. I've seen him once before, in Chicago, but he was much more relaxed and breezy here, making jokes and delivering a ton of really sharp performances off of his new album, getting the crowd really into the show. He was accompanied the whole set by Rob Sonic (who I was surprised to learn is a HUGE motherfucker -- I'd never seen pictures of him, only heard him), who added a nice counterpoint to Ace's set and even performed a few tracks of his excellent new one, Sabotage Gigante. It was a fun, freewheeling set that really set the crowd rocking, and overcame not only a dull venue but a potentially evening-destroying couple of jackoffs.
The three of us then headed off for some early-morning dinner at an Asian place in, possibly, Deep Ellum, and then I finally staggered back to the hotel to not sleep for a couple of hours. The next AM, I actually headed over to the convention, which -- well, it was kinda sad. About half the size, maybe less, of WW Chicago, and maybe a fifth the size of San Diego, and most of the exhibitors looking raggedy and dispirited. The top celebrity guest was someone who played somebody on Smallville, and while there was a fairly robust Artist's Alley and some decent pros in attendance, I'm lucky I know enough about these things to pad out an article with lots of boilerplate, because there just wasn't much happening. HOWEVER! I did get, through the machinations of a friend of mine, the opportunity to briefly interview DC bigshot Dan DiDio. The interview won't be in the con piece, but I'm sure I can shop it around and find a buyer without too much trouble. DiDio himself was nice and friendly but extremely boring, and the interview was pretty general, so anyone looking to me for spoilers or breaking news will be, as in all other things, disappointed in me. But I guess I made a decent enough impression on the guy (perhaps abetted by a bit of, er, exaggeration about exactly how prominent a comics journalist I actually am) that I got an invite to a very low-key Saturday night afterparty where several DC editors were in attendance. This was very cool, as I got to schmooze with people I would really, really like to work for, meet a couple of DC honchos, and get terribly drunk in front of people I was desperately trying to impress. MISSION DRUNKOMPLISHED!
Sunday I ate a ridiculously large room service lunch, the cost of which I will brazenly pass off onto my client, and headed back for the last day of WizardWorld to do some shopping with Angie. We hung out a bit with one of her co-workers and his cute kid, met a friend of hers who also happens to be Kristian Donaldson, who I know as a guest artist on DMZ, and gawked at the many, many tragic specimens of humanity on display at the convention center. I picked up a fairly decent haul over the weekend while still managing to not spend more than I made: I got Bill Sienkiewicz to sign my copy of Stray Toasters, I picked up a couple of sketches (a Green Arrow/Black Canary by Cliff Chiang and a Duncan Fegredo Hellboy), a few trades (a Marvel Essentials collection of The Defenders and the first Loveless collection), and some decently priced single issues, including #1s of DC's O'Neill/Kaluta Shadow and the Simon/Kirby Sandman.
Then I went home.