Comic books may have been considered kids’ stuff or something for nerds and geeks in the ’90s, but in 2015, comic book conventions are springing up all over the country and attracting thousands of people with programming and activities for just about anyone. Phoenix Comicon has taken to calling itself the “Premier Pop Culture Event of the Southwest,” and with an attendance of more than 77,000 people in 2014, it’s hard to argue.
For the 2015 effort, organizers are beefing up every aspect of the event, from the star-studded list of guests (Alyson Hannigan, Jason Isaacs, Ron Perlman, Jason Momoa, Christopher Lloyd, and many more) to the stacked lineup of programs for cosplayers, comic fans, nostalgiacs, and everyone in between.
The event is even delivering fantastic programming for music fans, including “Klingon Karaoke” at 9 p.m. on Thurday, May 28, “Name That Tune” pop culture from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, May 29, Phoenix Comicon Film Festival music videos at 8 p.m. on May 29, and a retrospective on Michael Jackson’s historic “Thriller” video. Expect nearly a dozen other music-themed panels and parties as well, including an outdoor stage on Third Street hosting local bands throughout the four-day event. Though this is the second year Comicon is offering a local stage, this year’s lineup looks like Lollapalooza compared to last year’s concert, which featured only Halocene, Captain Squeegee, and Gabe Kubanda.
In 2014, the concert was sponsored wholly by Kubanda’s Epic Proportions Tour. For 2015, Kubanda linked up with Michael Zimmerlich of local record label 80/20 records and booked out a nerdtastic lineup of local rock ’n’ roll bands.
The 80/20 Records/Epic Proportions Tour Third Street stage will feature Banana Gun, Boss Frog, Captain Squeegee, Fairy Bones, Frequis, Luna Aura, Jerusafunk, Ana Log, Dwarf, Gabe Kubanda, Luminatus, Rite to Remain, Statues of Cats, Steff and the Articles, The Darling Sounds, and The Hill in Mind.
“We were looking for bands that hit certain criteria . . . bands we know can geek out. Bands that will be excited to perform at Phoenix Comicon,” Zimmerlich says. “Anytime we can provide a new audience for the local music scene, the better. There are a lot of people still in Phoenix who don’t realize how much of a thriving local music scene there is in this city.”
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According to Zimmerlich, organizers are working with the bands to provide not only the highest-caliber musical entertainment possible but also to have all of them incorporate cosplay, covers, and other pop culture references into their sets to “encapsulate the culture of Phoenix Comicon” on stage.
Some of the ideas floated already include The Hill in Mind’s Disney covers, which have only been played out live once before, and another band has said they are considering doing the set dressed as characters from Pokemon.
The quality music events don’t shut down with the festival, either. With 80,000 people filtering into downtown, every bar and restaurant is going all out to rake in the customers. One of the best-looking Comicon afterparties is definitely “Sure Shot: Beastie Boys Tribute” at The Monarch Theatre featuring Drunken Immortals, Nuclear Beach Party, and Ebinezer.
Comicon is scheduled to take place May 28 to 31 at the Phoenix Convention Center.