Friday, 29 August 2014

BUCK report: Friday

(L) Manchester Central by night; (R) The SSC in full swing
All right then, here we go with my report for BUCK 2014, which sadly seems almost certain to be the con's last iteration thanks to spiralling costs. I travelled up on the Friday morning, and the journey was uneventful. Didn't see any other bronies on the way, which was a slight disappointment. As I couldn't check into my hotel until after 3pm, I had to lug my rucksack around for a while, but I'd been careful not to overpack it, so it wasn't too bad an experience.

First task (after eating) was to get to Manchester Central to pre-register for the Summer Sun Celebration. This didn't go all that smoothly at first, as I was told (politely but firmly, and against what had been advertised) that only those who had premium tickets for the con proper could pre-register. I was too tired to argue, so walked away grumbling under my breath. Then I had a stroke of luck: bumping into Hurricane, Nekky and Coastie purely by chance in the city centre. They told me that Standard ticket-holders were now being allowed to pre-register.

So, I trekked back to Manchester Central and this time got my SSC wristband. Then it was off to the nearby Central Library's café for the inaugural meeting of the Fluttershy Club. With an attendance of about 40, twice as many as expected, it was a little bit unwieldy and we didn't get far beyond saying hellos, but at least it was there. I had to leave early to get the train to Bolton to check into my luxurious five-star Travelodge. (Actually it was fine, though the surrounding area was a little on the grim side.)

(L) Alliminaro's fine OC plush; (R) Pinkie Pie and Party Cannon
After a bite to eat, it was back to Manchester Central for the Summer Sun Celebration! The nearest thing to a rave I'm ever likely to go to, and a rather surreal experience. Most of the con vendors were in operation in the lobby, so there was a good deal of merch-buying going on. I snagged a Fluttershy cushion for £15, which was something you're not going to find in your local Tesco Extra. (More's the pity.) It was actually very useful when I was feeling a bit chilly sitting at a metal table in the huge main hall!

The opening act was Prince Whateverer: not bad at all and pretty enthusiastic, if a bit metal for my tastes. I was mostly there for the next guys: Acoustic Brony. Only the second time (and the first in Europe) that they'd belied their name by being backed by a full rock band, and my word it was good! We got several show songs ("Babs Seed" and "Helping Twilight Win the Crown" among them), we got my favourite "I'll Fly Higher"... and yes, we got "Loyalty".

After that, it was Mic the Microphone. Starting to get a bit heavy for my tastes now, though I really enjoyed "Nightmare Night". I stayed on through his set and General Mumble's, but by the time we got to Icky things were just sounding like noise to me, so I went back to the hotel. I was a bit sorry not to stick it out for the others (Lavender Harmony, Addictia, The Living Tombstone and HMage) but if I had done, I'd have missed the last train to Bolton by about two hours!

(L) Programme for the SSC; (R) Manchester Central's main hall
All in all, I had a pretty good time, and it wasn't nearly as intimidating as I'd feared. We are, after all, pony fans, so we don't do "intimidating" very well on the whole! Acoustic Brony was easily my favourite act, but until it all merged into noise I enjoyed the others as well. I was pretty tired by the time I got back to the hotel (no thanks to Northern Rail's inability to provide enough trains) but I was looking forward to what Saturday might bring.

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