Nothing can come between us, nothing gets you down…

Somebody is waiting in the hallway
Somebody is falling down the stairs

Head buzzing full of ideas, I move off for a quick lunch in my room. Back out into the conference for the afternoon and the whole thing has accelerated into overdrive. There’s people everywhere – talking on phones, talking on headsets, talking to others, talking to themselves and the hubub is backed up by the sound of a thousand laptops tip-tapping down the echoing corridors, aided, no doubt, by the hotel’s decision to charge $17 a day for internet access in the rooms. Hmf. Naturally, the W2 Summit (I’m going to start using that term, as they have officially changed the name, so gotta get used to it) have got AOL to shill for wireless access for the main areas, but the cost of room-net has pushed many cost-conscious attendees into every available corridor and chair to do their online work. (Expense account? Moi?)

If this were a club, you’d say it was peaking right now. This is the corporate equivalent of hands-in-the-air time. Familiar faces and nametags move here and there. Unfamiliar faces with big ideas eye the traffic with unconcealed intent. The temptation to eavesdrop is considerable. I resist, and pop into the launchpad session to see some new companies demo their wares and ideas briefly before cleaning up and heading off into the San Franciscan night, grabbing a freshly arrived Tim from Radio Clash on the way to do something exceptionally English – Go see The Pet Shop Boys!

Snap into position, Bounce till you ache…

And, as always, they don’t disappoint. Backed up with two dancers and three singers, their show is a masterpiece of non-bandsmanship, with a beautifully designed stageset that is continually manipulated by a couple of boilersuit clad stagehands into a variety of different positions, acting as both stage platforms and frames for the dancers and surfaces for video projections. It’s a fine set, carefully balancing new tunes with old show-stoppers. Mash and mix fans, it should be noted, would be delighted with their conceptual arrangement skills, which saw the two “spell-the word-out” tunes (“Minimal” and “Shopping”) blending into one another, and a fine segue between “Se A Vida Es” and “Domino Dancing”. Although they did miss a trick as Tim pointed out the similarity between “The Sodom And Gomorrah Show” and “Yesterday When I Was Mad” (sadly not in the set). The crowd get highly emotional, with tons of hugging and kissing inbetween the dancing. It’s great to feel such a warm vibe, especially in a huge place.

Suitably enlivened, we bounce out of the auditorium and head down to Trannyshack at The Stud, where Adrian from Bootie is performing in a cast of hundreds (well, probably not, but it felt like it!) drag tribute to, ahem, the majesty of Freddie Mercury and Queen. Highly appropriate really, dontchathink?

It’s another wonderful show, taking in many lesser known Queen tracks (including personal favourites “Spread Your Wings” and “Let Me Entertain You”) with the obligatory classics. These gals certainly know how to make the most out of the tiny stage with a combination of excellent costumes, demented acting and endless bravado, and the packed club cheers them on every step of the way.

However the freshly-arrived Tim is not looking so fresh any more, and goes off to deal with his jetlag, With me, more than half-cut, following suit soon after. I make a pit stop on the way back for a tub of bedtime ice-cream (Chocolate Fudge Brownie) at the 7-11, and am charmed by the guy on the till, who, even at this late hour, asks me if I want a spoon. Bless him.

Makin’ flippy floppy, tryin to do my best…

Wednesday sees the conference, sorry, summit keeping the energy levels up, although I see less of the action, as I’m doing a little prep for my evening’s appearence at the Creative Commons Salon at Shine. Not wanting to play the higher energy Bootie set in an early-evening bar setting, I take a few chances and buff up some more downtempo works-in-progress, alongside a few, hopefully more familiar tunes.

The Salon has a wonderfully friendly, relaxed vibe, and I get to try out a few experiments in between checking out people’s ideas, particularly the very impressive Splice – an online audio remix and mashup tool. Naturally an online flash sequencer is going to have some limitations, but these guys have done what I think is the best job yet of taking the essential elements and making them very easy to use. Combine that with a growing sample base and community, and there’s a lot of fun to be had.

Sadly there’s never enough time to chat, but I’m delighted to finally make the aquaintances of both TradeMark from The Evolution Control Committee, and Victor Stone (creator of fine music as fourstones.net, and also the backbone of CCMixter) amongst others. Frenzied conversation and trading of numbers results, before I remind myself I have to try to get an early night before my own little piece of the Web 2 Summit the next day.

Unfortunately the night is still young, and the city very inviting, so D from Bootie zooms me off to meet up with Tim again, who is across town checking out the wonderfully jovial and occasionally outspoken DJ Jay-R. Everyone is in great spirits and many beers are sunk, but as I quaff, quaff again and quaff some more, I have an unsettling feeling calling from deep in my brain of something that I’d forgotten to do…

Bring me a doctor, I have a hole in my head…


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