Hey all, Jon D. B. here and a happy Sunday to you!
This past weekend was one for the record books. G-FEST XXII was a tremendous success for all involved, including us here at Skreeonk.com and our many friends within the Kaiju Fan Network. While it is tempting to write a lengthy article about the entire experience – I’m struggling to find any true reason to do so. G-FEST is meant to be lived and experienced, not read about secondhand. What I would like to do instead is show you:
A dear friend of mine, David E. Dopko, is a phenomenal photographer and was kind enough to photo-document the entire four day span of our trip. The result is, without a doubt, the best possible way to show others who did not attend just how much of a fantastic time we had together. G-FEST is, as another friend put it, “like a huge family reunion every year” – and the more I look at David’s superb photography the more true this statement rings with me. If you are on the fence about going, make the trip; it is something you will not regret. Hopefully the following will help in swaying you to do so.
Clicking the following link and/or the photo below will take you to Mr. Dopko’s Photo Gallery of G-FEST XXII. Inside you’ll find everything you’d ever need to know about the time we had: Comradery, smiling faces, once-in-a-lifetime concerts, panels, fans, and of course – kaiju vinyls.
Now onto the G-TUBE part of things! To give you a sense of the spirit of the Fest, first up is Mark Callaway‘s summary of his G-FEST experience as well as his interview with both myself and David. Mark prepared some great word-association questions for guests he wanted to interview, and gives some great insight for others hoping to make their first trip (as G-FEST XXII happened to be his first). His reflection on the event is the first four minutes of the video. If you are interested in just the interviews they begin at the 4:35 mark:
Next up is a sampling of the fantastic SYMPHONIC FURY concert. The event had a large turn-out, was a great success, and was attended by Kow Otani-san himself. I was fortunate enough to attend the dress rehearsal the night before and spend time with Otani-san while he relished in the joy of a live orchestra performing some of his music for the first time. His enthusiasm and passion extends far beyond music into the fandom of kaiju eiga itself and the fans within. Otani-san was, hands down, one of the most genuine and humble superstars I’ve ever had the pleasure to be around. Here is a sampling of the concert with friend and Maestro John DeSentis doing what he does best. Wait for Otani-san’s Gamera III score to swell up at the end and just imagine hearing it in person; such an incredible experience!
Another fantastic project had its world premiere at this year’s Fest, with the long awaited documentary HAIL TO THE KING scoring several showings throughout the weekend. To say Kyle (of Kaijucast) has put a tremendous amount of work into this dream project is an understatement, and the final product showed such with flying colors. For those unaware, HTTK is a superb look into the mindset of Japanese Godzilla fans. Kyle and his team set out to the kaiju motherland in search of insight, both into the minds of Tokusatsu fans on the other side of the Pacific – and how the genre is perceived today (and specifically for The Big G’s 60th anniversary last year when the doc. was shot) by those still living in the country responsible for the art form’s birth. David also traveled along with Kyle to photo-document the journey, and what follows is a string of excellent interviews – with one inparticular that will absolutely leave your jaw on the floor. HAIL TO THE KING is something you will not want to miss, and luckily you don’t have to as we’ve included the Youtube release right here for yah!
Last up we have the FRESH VINYL LIVE 2015 Panel in which myself, David, Rich Eso of Fresh Vinyl, Kyle Yount of Kaijucast, and our fellow collectors Christine Chapin and Samson West delved into the newest collectibles on the market today. We covered everything from Marmit and Medicom to X-Plus releases and SHMA. The panel was a tremendous success with a standing-room only crowd lined out the door. If you came and are reading this, we thank you so much for making the first FVL panel such a roaring success. We will, without a doubt, be back next year! A huge thank you to our friend Jessica Etchells for recording the panel for us so it could be edited and uploaded.
Another huge thank you is in order for all of the G-FAN/G-FEST crew for making such a fantastic event possible each year. A lot of people work hard year round to ensure that we get to have such a fantastic time in Chicago each year so from all of us here in the Kaiju Fan Network: Thank You.
I’ve included a few of my own personal photographs (of much lower quality) from the trip within the article and in a gallery below to give readers a sense of other highlights of G-Fest.including our fantastic special guests this year Masaaki Tezuka-san and Noboru Kaneko-san, and friends yet highly-esteemed members of the fandom August Ragone and Bob Eggleton. The amazing thing about G-Fest is, after all, the people. Our love of kaiju eiga is what the fandom is all about – but there are few things in this world that can compare to sharing a drink and laughs with others who passionately love what you love – and then some. Again, if you’re on the fence about coming – make it happen! You won’t regret it and will find yourself in Chicago for G-Fest again, guaranteed.
Thanks as always for reading, watching, and for being a part of this terrific fandom.
Jon D. B.
(Jon @ UnCanny)