Reposted from last year: Bronyscot 2018 Coverage and Advice

Roliing Pone: There Can Only Be Win*
Notes from Bronyscot 2018, Fifth Year in a Row
How To Run A Small But Fun Convention... Rock Nessie Concert On Sunday... Worth the Costs

by Foal Duke, International Affairs Correspondent, Glasgow 9-11 November 2018

Note: this is a repost from last year to serve as a guide for newcomers this year. See the section Getting There in particular.



The Glasgow Botanic Gardens, one of the city's main attractions.

So. the final European convention of the year has just come and gone.

Bronyscot has come into its fifth year, and the event was, like always, small but with a lot of punch behind it. Over two days, with the con on Saturday at the Hilton Grosvenor and Rock Nessie on Sunday at the Classic Grand, the social scene in Europe is still thriving, it appears. With only one real hitch, the con was run better than last year, and yet again people have come to some windswept island in the atlantic from across Europe for it.

It costs a fair bit, bit it's worth it if you want to make friends and have a good time, especially if you have friends going that can join you for a hammered headbanging hootenanny. And if you book early, prices are a lot cheaper. I recommend it to any readers in the Americas, too - but you should perhaps take a week's autumn vacation on the Isles, or even as part of a two week tour to see RuBronyCon in Moscow, which takes place at a similar time and, being Russia, Aeroflot prices are cheap. Then it'll definitely be worth it. Glasgow is a friendly place with a ton of things to do.

Read on after the break!
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*Working title: Five-lander.


Day One: I am the Passenger
Fundraising, Facts and Figures
So the con's charity this year was Children's Hospices Across Scotland, or CHAS, and in total we managed to raise £1610 (€1770, $1930) for them at the charity auction. They provide care in all forms for children with life shortening conditions, and funded a report in Scotland that found that three die per week as a result, but they can only reach one out of three and need as much help as possible to reach the rest. They are a very good charity worthy of your money and time.

Tickets were 35 for the con and 15 for the concert - which is a bit pricier than a typical small concert that holds about 50 - 100 people like this that you'd find in a club, but has a lot more variety in its acts. 140 people attended the con, with about 70 - 80 at Rock Nessie as well (including 40 who came for the concert alone). Last year, attendance was 180 at the con and 75 - 77 at Rock Nessie too (the concert-only subset was not given), so con numbers are holding steady but have dropped slightly.

The ratios indicate Rock Nessie is seen as the real highlight as they almost exactly the same. Part of this drop was due to only about 4 people from the Czech con regulars (there were about 15 last year) and only one or two Dutch regulars rather than about 8 (MC Arch and Moontune don't count, they are staff).

Prices are up slightly due to a longer con this year (8 am to 11 pm) and hence this year, no voice actor video chat. Louis the Chelis Chair for the year informs me that a video chat can cost similar amounts to an appearance as the VA can charge between 500 - 1000 for an hour of their time (and the one VA they had asked for was allegedly being a bit fickle; they did not disclose who).1

Theme this year was birthdays (last year, robots) and there were a larger variety of guests. Hilton Grosvenor was the combined hotel/con venue and Rock Nessie was at Classic Grand in the city centre, as per last year.

The con has a very good ability to use lack of space to its advantage; from the pic below, you can see that the main hall requires you to walk through the vendor area set up in the landing/bar area, even catching the vendors in the side passages. You even see it from the main door as you go up onto the landing to go to the other halls at the other end. It is very well placed, unlike EQLA.2 And they are centred around the most important bit of any event.3

The side panels in the other halls can be a bit hard to find and the games and Switch tournament rooms suffer for being a bit out of the way. Karaoke is well placed to be heard but not too loudly. Nice ambience. Con costs are about 12k - 15k. Vendor table is free. Deluxe ticket gets you free t-shirt at 45. Only two permanent committee members; the rest rotate each year.

We arrived at the Hillburn Book Club - an offbeat bar a few doors down from the venue - at around eight in large numbers. Last year was the Curler's Rest a bit further along. The upper floor was reserved again. This one has unusual cocktails (the Popcorn Colada) and a pingpong table upstairs (and old Sega Genesis games). Quite fun, but a bit noiser than I would've liked as we want to talk. The staff choose their venues well, but the Rest was better, if I'm honest. The Hilton bar was preferable. There is a wide variety of gins and food cooked to order and served on slates. And Irn Bru.
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1 Most likely candidate: Orson Welles.
2 This article has been edited by Chelis.
3 i.e. the bar.4
4 See note 2.


Bronyscot Day Two: The Convention Itself
Advice Panels... Other Cons Pitch In... German Invasion... Fanta Jokes Threatened.

Opening Ceremonies
So, the convention started at 8 am, at which point most of the vendors turned up and helped to get everything sorted out. Apparently a squad of police forced entry into the building after hearing an apparent gunfight and screaming from half a mile away, but it was just the prequisite banging of a thousand trestle tables with fingers trapped in them. Well done to you for clearing that up, vendor co-ordinator Thad Hertz-O'Fockenhull.

The ceremony was, as usual, MC Moontune coming on to announce a bit about the charity and the progress of the con throughout the last year. There weren't that many people there, which is a shame. Perhaps in future it could be used better as a pep talk for staff (medium difficulty) and vendors (easy) or something. It's quite an informal con, this, so don't expect much in the way of frills. It's straightforward, in large quantites, and well planned for loud FUN.

Activities
All day from about 9 am there were card games and other activities, such as the required karaoke and a Switch tournament. There was a writing competition too.

Vendors
The usual suspects were present from last year, including James Corck, Mad Munchkin and Torben Art N Prints. There were plenty of new or returning vendors from previous years as well. A nice healthy mix that implies movement and new activity into the fandom or around it into other parts and more prominence.

I spent a little while hanging around and talking to a vendor friend of mine and his assistant.

Cosplay Competition
The first big highlight of the day was the cosplay competition. Despite being a cosplayer, I decided to sit this one out, but I wished I'd joined now. The notable entries included Daft Punk Rarity (a nice pun) and a male Mailmare (a terrible pun). There were about twenty or so people, notably less than last time, and also no Flutterguy...! Still, these things fluctuate year on year.

As always, there were some funny panto acts in it, including a Fluttershy looking for her Angel, just on before - a giant fucking rabbit with a removable mouth to enable facial expression changes - gets mad about something and swaps the mouths over with slight of hand. Fluttershy gave him a giant carrot to cheer him up... which he threw upwards...

And onto my head with much amusement. Ha.

The Midnight Scribes Podcast Interview
This was interesting.

Midnight Scribes, the podcaster, was able to sit down for a little while with CrackinLazer, the guitarist for Coltastrophe, and talk about the history of the band for a little while and how the fandom has changed over time from his perspective. He started out solo and Louis and Matt joined him later on. The band has come on a lot in the past year, in his opinion.

However, the panel actually ran under time and this meant there was not much to do for a whole forty minutes. This was fine by us though, as we had time to go and check out the vendor stands some more!

Crackin's Multi-Tracking Banter and Jam Panel
This panel kind of fell through - there were technical issues that wouldn't allow for the panel to go ahead as originally planned. The equipment seemed to be working pretty well in the previous panels, so signs pointed to it being a hard drive failure or something similar.

For those who aren't aware, multi-tracking involves recording each artist in a band separately and then putting everything together in post production; Metallica were one of the first metal bands to do this. It offers sveral advantages, including greater flexibility of stylistic effects (each track can be worked on without affecting the others) and the ability to work whilst being dotted all over the place. The real magic would be to sync it all together, and Crackin was going to do this whilst giving us a guide to different digital audio workstations.

But nevertheless, the show must go on! Crackin (the main guitarist and vocalist) got up on the stage with Matt the bassist and Louis the drummer, for once in front of the stage instead of behind the mission control. The trio took some feedback, answered some questions and played a few songs, which included the Toy Story theme, not to be played in their set this year (was it Disney or Hasbro's copyright lawyers that said something!?).

A slap-bass acapella version of Super Speedy Cider Squeezy is always welcome, even if the band fall out of sync. It means extra LOL. For more, notice this perfectly timed photo. 


Interview: Spoonseeker
This point in the day (3 pm) darkness was starting to fall, and I was able to grab a brief interview spot with Spoonseeker, AKA Christine.

She is a speciality artist whose main output consists of pixel art, made from hana beads. These craft artist interviews - such as the one with Igor of MLP Ties - are always interesting as there are less printing costs, but the task can be harder or easier depending on how many types of things you can make based on your medium (or media), which itself depends on the materials you are working with and have access to.

Not to mention choosing your different types, packing them for overseas cons, the greater expenses, the need to make more money by going overseas, the greater luggage costs from that, and so on.

In her case, the right sort of beads need to be chosen, the right shades need to be obtained to reflect lighting correctly on the image, and so on. She had some further advice for budding craftsponies, and the interview will be up soon. Very insightful.



Panel: How to Start a Meetup, with Hypnohooves
Hypnohooves, the Chair of Griffish Isles, gave a talk on how and why to start a fan meet up. This can be extrapolated to other fandoms, but only to an extent, because there are not many fandoms with decently-sized active meetup groups and as many conventions dotted around - Star Trek and Discworld being two notable ones.

Turns out there were fans in Glasgow who had no idea of the meetup or the convention going on the same day.

I've covered this topic before with the UC Merced Bronies (now on our swanky new channel on Youtube) but he went into much more detail. It was very impressive. However, while it's very true that you need to think about the various aspects of the venue, the agenda, and so on, carefully, a lot of it is common sense. The difference is that my discussion covered informal bar meets, not more detailed meetups for season premieres/finales, big meetups like the Dutch Commmunity do...

And hosting a gathering with card games with cosplayers on the train.

But still, it is entirely possible to host national meetups like they used to, in his opinion, so it can be done, eve if his advice is to start with more informal, and then regional formal meets.

Just make sure you don't organise a Star Trek meet in the same pub as a BNP chapter.

Or book a Trek meet in DC at a cafe with another in the cafe's other branch across town.

Panel: Perspectives with EileMonty
The next panel would've been quite interesting; it certainly had some very interesting people, including EileMonty (veteran singer, as you know) and a one Doctor Wolf, part of the mostly-defunct analyst troupe (who has some interesting ideas of how to handle allegations of paedophilia).

The topics covered included one very relevant to him - specifically, how to deal with critics and how to avoid saying anything that would lead to a backlash. I thought I'd ask them if they'd ever said anything that caused a lot of backlash and, more importantly, how they responded and/or tried to make amends, for the sake of an informative example.

I noticed I was the first person in line at the mike, which was kept there for most panels. It turned out there were no live questions to be asked, but they had all been submitted previously.

I was directed to Louis the Chair who was manning the equipment and he informed me that pre-moderated questions had been determined by the committee for the sake of technical ease. He said that while it was possible one or two of the committee members voted for it because they were concerned about people asking questions Wolfy might get upset at (tough titty) that was never mentioned in any of the meetings and he certainly would not have done it for that.

This... makes sense, on weighing up. There have been previous skype panels where moderated questions would've improved the flow of things e.g. the VA Panel at Griffish Isles in May. And besides, comments made by certain people he keeps company with on the committee staff (who will remain nameless) indicate they aren't too fond of Wolf's statements either.

I get it - he's a therapist and has a natural tendency toward peacemaking, but as a well-known internet talking head, that people look to for an example, he needs to check his wording more and make sure it doesn't accidentally give off the wrong message, before posting (at best). I like to think this is more likely than the alternative, which would be to openly permissive of it himself. This is especially on a website such as youtube where there is plenty of sexualisation of minors (sometimes even by themselves) and perverted comments on such videos, not to mention the deeper problem of people doing and saying nasty or outrageous things for attention. Even, acting the victim for attention when someone tells them to stop. Youtube is awful. Wolf has tremendous potential to counteract that, as do many of us.

[By the way, you can check out interviews and panels on our new channel Horse News TV at #horsenewsmlp and #ponytv!] Remove this line - not appropriate. Ed.

Injustrial's Techno Panel
This was quite interesting. I didn't get to see much, but Injustrial, with a rather unique style of music affectionately referred to as "his thing" by the other musicians, gave a panel on how to produce his style of music.

Referring to it as 'industrial techno' is a small indicator of what this involves, but does not prepare you for the use of a loudspeaker and a lot of autotuned and distorted shouting, and while the panel was pretty interesting, the full act can only really be seen to be believed. He's a natural showman so he gets away with something as strange as with this. He pulled it off quite well at the concert the next day.



Charity Auction with CHAS
And now came the next big event of the day, which was being hosted for Children's Hospices Across Scotland.

The bids were interesting and pretty neat. They had a nice variety of things, and quite a lot of it was art produced by con regulars and sometimes signed by the acts or even show staff. It was a very fun auction, like a lot of them. I managed to get some decent coverage of the bloody thing with the use of a coat rack for my action cam.

Notable bids included artwork signed by EileMonty and the voice actors, and all sorts of other unique bits of merchandise.

The Goof-Off Competition
Sadly this was the last big even of the day, but it was a fun one.

The conceit was simple: two horse famous people, one dressed as Pinkie and the other as Cheese Sandwich5, split the audience into two halves, and competed to give their half the most FUN.

The first round consisted of a pictionary-style game but with the whole audience participating. This made it a lot worse than normal pictionary, as instead of having one person getting it right out of several people, you had several groups of people shouting all at once and it would be very hard to spot the guy who looks like he know's what he's doing. Cheese won that round.

Second round went to Ponk. This lie detector round had you test how well you know your friends, with several contestants coming on stage, three to each team. One person would nominate a teammate in his trio to tell two truths and one fib, and they would have to guess. And, if that teammate failed, then a person from the opposing team would get a shot for the point, a la Family Feud. All three people would have a turn at this. The trick was to ensure you gave answers that could possibly be a lie without making it too obvious to the other team. Having friends in your team would obviously be an advantage, even for guessing. See? FRIENDSHIP! RELEVANT! APPLIED! MORAL!6
 
Round three was a scavenger hunt and involved the teams getting hold of random crap including people's boots, whic saw one girl airlifted across the room by her teamates and generally things got a little bit crazy - anything involving Pink and Cheese would get a bit lairy, but you wouldn't expect it in real life. Had they possessed these two guys?

The thing ended, overall, in a draw, and that was a masterstroke - everyone had fun and learned a valuable moralabout teamwork through friendship, whilst disguising the fact that it was a complete cop-out because nobody won!
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5 Cheese sandwich, cheese sandwich oh god oh god oh god I'm writing this en route to HarmonyCon 2019 and I haven't eaten since two hours after take-off so I'm starving but I've downed coffee after coffee if I'm so famished why do I need to take such a massive shit oh god oh god oh god the spiders

6 We would like to apologise for the technical difficulties; the coffee, jetlag and lack of food has caused the author a slight breakdown, and us some earaches. Now that we have forcefed him emergency liquified cheese containing every possible variety we could find7 normal service will soon be resumed.

7 And once he has stopped throwing up.

Closing Ceremonies
Sadly, however, all good things had to come to an end - but we were assured that BronyScot will be back next year. There were the usual things - the announcements of the charity final result came first, at £1610 (€1770, $1930) raised for CHAS. Well done! Then came the usual reminder of the Rock Nessie Concert the next night, and - as custom - someone tearing up a Fluttershy plushie in the middle of the room (MC Arch was, thankfully, looking the other way at that point).

And while the opening and closing ceremony was, again, quite spartan and without any background music or animatic (compared to other cons at the next stage up, such as HarmonyCon with about 700 attendees, which did have those bits) it was because they wanted to save more money for the panels and activities. They certainly gave us our money's worth. [Does this support the stereotype about Scots and their money, or subvert it?] -- I don't know; does this comment support the stereotype about Limeys making unfunny ethnic jokes, or subvert it? Ed.

At any rate, get here next year if you can.

Getting There
A flight from any major European country is cheap, but usual rules and recommendations of Virgin Atlantic and KLM for good baggage allowances apply, especially if you're a vendor or musician. It might be cheaper to take a flight to Edinburgh and bus the rest of the way.

Glasgow Airport has a bus service, not a train. Takes about an hour.

Glasgow also has a subway - the Outer Circle goes clockwise, the Inner Circle goes anti. Classic Grand is near St Enoch Subway Station and Glasgow Central Rail Station. Last ones stop at 11pm on Saturday and 6 pm on Sunday. Cab ranks are nearby the Hilton and Classic Grand and Uber is available.

There are lots of hills. Bring walking boots. The front Hilton steps can be slippery and there can be ice on the paths.

Trains from other parts of Scotland are decent and efficient for the most part; from England, no. The Virgin Express is a pain and usually delayed for an hour and costs about 150. Take the MegaBus or National Express - it can take up to eight hours from London but it's only about thirty or forty.

Sights include the botanic gardens, the cathedral, and all sorts of museums and art galleries such as the Sir William Borroughs Collection, the Kelvingrove, and the Police Museum.

Look - this is a city break; you're here on a weekend, trying to fit stuff in on Friday afternoon or Sunday before Rock Nessie, and you're all a bunch of fucking nerds, so why the fuck not? You'll like it, trust me.

Hilton is 127 per night, nearby hotels can go for as little as 40 per night. Book early for cheapness.
Scottish food. Yes.


BronyScot 2018 Day Three: Rock Nessie Concert Review
Bronyscot's regular concert, RockNessie, was back in full force for 2018.

At the Classic Grand in central Glasgow, the party started at half six and continued long into the night, long after it was meant to be over. The acts were more varied than last year, and the audience saw some well known acts from the early days come back. It was reassuring to find out that they have moved on to greater things, but haven't forgotten their roots.

Coltastrophe were in attendance and hit the crowd with some of their old favorites including, appropriately enough, Nessie, complete with the cringey and hilarious T-Posing during the opening chorus. Halo and videogame influences abound, but so did the performance styles of AC/DC and Jack Black, amongst others, through songs such as Maud Pie.


Project Remake were back, unlike last year where they sadly could not make it, and the audience were treated to several songs inspired by other nerd followings, including an interesting number inspired by Tetris, of all things, with a bit of depth. Their tribute to Attack on Titan was very heartfelt and full of raw energy, especially in the vocals. Frantic and yet graceful, it captured the themes of the show (including, of course, friendship) very well in its three minutes. I was glad to see them back again.

We might, next year, see a shift into other fandoms being on display at the convention - this was something the con staff discussed with me. After all, the show is ending in 8 months (time of writing: January 2019) and we need to keep the community alive and tied over til G5.

As long as the other things exhibited are the sort of things that would be popular with a large part of this fandom, or already are, this should not be a problem. These would be franchises that (1) discuss things such as friendship and cameraderie, and (2) have fanbases that are big enough to attact meetups and presences at cons. Bonus points if they are 'comfy' and/or cute; most shows that deal with friendship as a central theme tend to be. This is because they are things many of us are interested in already. AoT is one such thing. Discworld would be anothe, and plenty of furry type things such as Undertale.

MC Arch had a mixture of mellow and energetic songs, some of which like I am Alive are subtly pony, but could easily be found on the radio as a 'normie' song. I wish him all the best with that; his style has evolved and become more refined and his voice is clearer than it was in 2017. This helped us get into a more mellow mood for Eile Monty and the othes who accompanied her.



As the drinks flowed in the Classic Grand's upstairs venue, and people were either dancing or chilling, everyone slowed down to take a breather as Eile gave us her rendtion of Goodbye Moon Man from that one particular episode of Rick and Morty. It seems to me that while the song was definitely a nonsense parody of sci-fi fare written by David Bowie and Elton John, Pink Floyd and so on, it still could be taken as a sincere and heartfelt number (if we ignored the nature of the show it was taken from).

It still meant a lot to a lot of people, and Eile Monty really managed to bring that out, and turn it into something that the aydience seemed to feel was genuinely emotional and heartfelt with tongue-in-cheek undertones, overshadowing the irony, but also making it feel deeper, almost like the humour was there to keep the singer's spirits up as they sang a farewell to an old, old friend.

If someone can be inspired by a cartoon from their childhood to turn a parody song from an adult cartoon into something sincere enough to capture a hundred people's rapt attention, and turn them silent, even James Corck sitting in the back and still drawing art for money, like he has been all day, then there is something very special indeed. Fandom isn't as cringeworthy as people think.

This is how friends meet, how networking is done, how people become inspired to produce their own work and inspire others in the process, and in some cases concoct something so unique or insightful that it gives words to a certain concept or message or cause that thousands of people knew about, but did not know the words for. And affect good and great changes in the world. They can be inspired themselves, and sometimes, such as tonight, the ebb and flow of ideas converged so much that everyone was feeling the raw emotion of it all, intensified with the underlying fear that in a year, most of this could be gone.

But if the fans keep coming, and the musicians keep playing, there will always be fans to inspire other fans, and this - all this music, all this partying, all this art, and all this atmosphere of cameraderie and the knowledge that we are creating good things to help people get through the bad days, and helping others to do the same - will still be here.

All this thisness will remain, no matter what it morphs into, because it only morphs into something else if you want it to anyway; after all, it's the people that make it great, and that means YOU.

And no matter what happens, one thing is certain- oh, hey, Injustrial's playing and we can't hear anything over the screams. Armed with only a megaphone, we threw all that out of the window with some headbanging and angry screaming for a good hour. Then it was time to round everybody out and head on home, drunk from a nice array of ciders behind the bar, which weren't too pricey, and reflect upon the memories we'd made and, well, re-made.

I hear that the con is changing its staff next year, and this might affect some of the events, or even a rebranding as something else, such as mostly-pony but with other interests hosted such as anime. So I get the concerns about attendance - will it be as good? Will people still turn up in large enough numbers to keep this ride going? Well, assuming that it even is different in the first place, well, based on the above and my experience at other cons that went through this (e.g. Nightmare Nights Dallas becoming HarmonyCon) I say yes.

But at any rate, this is a unique con and a nice round-off to the year. Unique for its variety of acts and such atmosphere that it sounds a lot bigger than it actually is and hits a lot harder than you'd expect (i.e. typical Scotsman). Stop it. -- Ed.

Plus, I got to drunkenly stomp up and down with fifty other people to a cover of Five Hundred Miles next to a giant unicorn called Stompy because of a cartoon produced almost a decade ago about little pink horses. And where else can you say you did that?

Well, okay, whenever it's Pride Night at the Pink Pussycat and there's that one Chippendale Dancer with a unicorn horn who's covered in Nutella, but 'next' is not the same as 'on top of', okay?

Foal Duke

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