SFW In The City, o2 Academy Sheffield.

One of the drunken highlights of Bloodstock Open Air this year was the late night Serpent’s Lair appearance by Darth Elvis and the Imperials. They were our neighbours in the campsite, and speaking to them over the weekend they mentioned they had a gig lined up in Sheffield. This sort of stuck in the back of the mind, and eventually we twigged they’d be gracing the stage at the SciFi Weekender In The City, brought to you by our friends at Hard Rock Hell.

So, how to fill the hours between the event kicking off and the band coming on? Well how about a spot of immersion in the culture of the Cosplay and SciFi fandom worlds.

We arrived on site to find there were fewer merchants stalls than expected, which was a good thing wallet wise, but still a lot to see. The middle part of the main arena was dominated by a display of the cosplayer’s art and our attention was immediately grabbed by an awesome Alien Queen’s head. No idea how much work went into making it but it looked the part.

The format for the event was “star” names getting interviewed on the main stage (three of which I’d actually heard of) plus various  other talks, workshops and entertainment type things in other parts of the venue.

The first interviewee on the main stage was the one and only James Cosmo, who tried to disguise himself behind a big beard but failed. Maybe he’s getting set to corner the Santa Christmas market. Some of the questions seemed a bit, well, obvious even to me but he chatted away for his allotted time with good humour and to be fair was really interesting to listen to.

His take on being an actor.. “Show up, say the words, get the money. I’m in the bar before anyone else”, and that’s where we found him later. He seemed a really nice bloke, talking on stage then holding court in the VIP area with a group of fans, chatting away and no doubt enjoying the constant Game Of Thrones questions.

There were a lot of Game Of Thrones questions.

And panels.

And more questions.

Next up we caught something called “The Pop-Up Puppet Cinema” which was frankly brilliant, and a lot more entertaining than it sounds. If you’ve never seen Back To The Future in a punch and Judy booth then you’re definitely missing out. Back on the main stage Julian Fellowes was mostly talking about money (how little he got for some roles, how much he’s made from conventions since) and how they had the audacity to cut his big reveal in Game Of Thrones.

The host for the event was a bloke called (we assume) Jim, who goes under the name Jimcredible and does a pretty damn good Joker. He was the interviewer for a cosplay panel where the Joker interviewed Red Sonja and a Blastoise (ok, we had to look that up. What’s a Blastoise??). This was pretty interesting with a side order of the sort of annoyance you get when people make something look dead easy. I’m pretty sure if I made a Blastoise it wouldn’t look quite like that.. and if I made Red Sonja armour  I’d probably get arrested.

Or propositioned.

Or both.

Next up then there was some proper insanity courtesy of Sylvester McCoy. Not satisfied with being interviewed he grabbed the mic and went walkabout in the crowd, and if anyone wanted to ask him a question they had to follow him.. in a queue. So basically he was the MC in a Dr. Who nerd conga.

Tales of Dr. Who, The Hobbit (did you know he was in the Hobbit? Did you? He was apparently). He reminded us a few times that he was, after all, in the hobbit but was furious about being upstaged by a cgi hedgehog thing.

I suspect he wasn’t entirely serious about that bit.

We headed off to grab some dinner before returning to catch some youths on BMX bikes doing what youths on BMX bikes do. Steal old ladies handbags.. no, wait, not that. Never that. Stunts, tricks and NO STEALING OLD LADIES HANDBAGS.

Right, enough of that, Music time.

As mentioned before we’d seen Darth Elvis at Bloodstock so we knew what to expect (although with less swearing, probably). A Star Wars twist on the classics, delivered in an Elvis stylee. I mean what’s not to like?

The dance floor opened up, and from the photo pit you got some idea what it must be like to be tripping. On one side you have Elvis Presley, A Stormtrooper on drums, a Tie fighter pilot on Bass and none other than Darth Maul’s not dead cousin Darth Vegas on the geetar.

Actually, hold on, wait a minute.. DrumTrooper TK4468 can’t be a real stormtrooper, he hit the targets.

So, with that going on stage, you look to the dance floor for a bit of sanity. And what do you see.. a 8ft tall dinosaur dancing with a ghostbuster.. and an astronaut dancing with Zaphod Beeblebrox.

Yep, these cosplay types are all a bit weird.

So that was it, alas work commitments meant no Sunday fun and games but we’d had a great Saturday. If you don’t dance a weekend in a field in North Wales for the big SFW event then get yourself along to the o2 Academy for SFW In The City 2. We suspect this thing is going to get bigger and better.

And, yep, we loved it !!!