Supernatural Chicon 2015 took place October 23 – 25 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois. The hotel was almost, but not quite full of #SPNFamily members. Everywhere you looked you saw #AlwaysKeepFighting shirts, Driver Picks the Music shirts, Team Dean and Team Sam shirts. Not to mention the at least 50 or more people dressed up as Castiel (full-sized wings and all) or the many others dressed as Cain, Crowley, the boys, Bobby Singer, the Impala, the Nutcracker from Changing Channels and oddly enough, a blue mailbox from Dr. Who.
Preregistration on Thursday night went quickly and smoothly; props to Creation because this was a mess in Vegas and took hours. The vendor area was already set up and the vendors were doing a brisk business as the excitement of it, finally, being Chicon weekend permeated the air. There were lots of t-shirts available as well as original works of art and jewelry, several authors with books that they were happy to sign, Louden Swain swag, and three tables set up to support various charities, including Random Acts.
Thursday night was spent greeting people we hadn’t seen since Vegas, shopping, shopping and oh did I mention shopping, carefully looking at the available photos ops and autograph opportunities to ensure that nothing was overlooked and just maybe downing a couple or three beers. Good times!
Richard Speight, Jr. (Trickster, Gabriel) kicked off the Friday panels with is rousing ode to Friday People – you know, those of us ditching work, school and life in general to listen to people talk about our favorite show. Rob Benedict (God) and Louden Swain sounded as good as ever and once the Rules and Regulations were presented, we were off!
Tyler Johnston (Matt Pike/Samandriel) was up first. It seems like the first guest of the weekend has to work a bit to get the ball rolling and Tyler was no exception. He told a few stories while people worked up the courage to actually get in line to ask him questions. One fan asked him about hockey and I think she made his whole afternoon. I first saw Tyler at Vegascon this year and he seemed considerably more comfortable with the crowd this time around and was very engaging and quite cute (sorry Tyler, you were just so cute).
Osric Chau (Kevin Tran) was next and was asked what had been one of the strangest photos he’d ever received on either his Instagram or Twitter. His answer was surprising and kind of gross, as it was a picture of someone’s poop. This led to a 15 minute discussion on poop and when it was acceptable to send photos of poop to someone who wasn’t your doctor. It was surreal, but Osric has proved that he can hang with my family at our holiday meals….I’m truly embarrassed to admit that poop and gas have been the topic of conversation at many family dinners over the years – so glad I’m not alone. Thanks nephews! Love you both lots! Osric is entertaining and comes off as kind of shy, but I think there’s a party animal hiding under those hoodies.
There was a break to allow for photo ops and meet & greets before Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster (Sheriffs Jodie and Donna) were welcomed to the stage. This just might be my favorite non-J2 panel of the weekend. These two ladies are beautiful, irreverent, potty mouthed and funny as H-E-Double Toothpicks! One question turned the conversation to a more serious topic when a fan asked about body image and the effect of media on societal expectations (I told you it was serious). Both Briana and Kim where quick to admit that while they work in an industry that values youth, looks and size double zero, that people are more diverse and that diversity is a valuable asset in any society. They banned the use of shaming words for the rest of their panel and threw their arms open to accept everyone in the room regardless of size, age, color, gender identity, sexuality or … the list goes on. The crowd went wild and you could feel the love and fellowship blossoming throughout the room.
Next on stage was Travis Aaron Wade (Cole T). This former Marine could not be kinder. He gave thoughtful, meaningful answers to the questions he was asked and generally seems to promote a positive agenda. I had met him in Vegas and he actually remembered me when I hit his photo-op. There were big hugs and big smiles all around. He seemed to have a kind word for everyone at his photo ops and in his autograph line.
That wrapped up the Friday panels and people were off to make photo ops, meet & greets and to collect autographs before heading up to change for the Halloween Karaoke party. I did not attend the party, but understand that there were zombies in the house! A bunch of people I knew and more that I just met that day gathered for cocktails and snacks at the one (yes one – what the heck Rosemont Hyatt) bar/restaurant in the hotel. While a couple of people broke off to head to Karaoke, the majority hung out swapping stories and Supernatural theories until the wee hours of Saturday morning.
Morning…ugh…rolled around a little too quickly for many of us but we’re #SPNFamily, we’re super fans and gosh darn it, we’re Chicagoans (well, some of us are Chicagoans) so we carried on! After enough coffee to float the Titanic we were back in our seats and ready for day two!
Richard opened the festivities with another funny and irreverent monologue which gave the Saturday people some shit and promised that the Sunday people were in for even more the next day (yeah, he delivered on that promise). Gotta love the guy – he doesn’t give you a chance not to, he never stops talking!
Ruth Connell (Rowena) started off the morning panels. She arrived looking prettier than ever, huge Hollywood sunglasses over her eyes, two (yes two!) cups of coffee and a bag full of gifts for the fans from her hotel room. Her panel was excellent. She is cute and she is funny. Ruth taught us a couple of dance moves before turning the brightest red I’ve ever seen on someone’s face after admitting to a questioner that she’s so short that J2 usually just sees the top of her head….mic drop. It was funny and I’m sure they won’t let her forget it, like ever. Among the items Ruth had for people who asked questions were: a tea bag, a creamer, a packet of sugar, a cup, a cup lid, hand lotion, shampoo and conditioner. She carefully considered each person as she made her gift selection for them. After teaching us a “Mega Coven” dance move, which she recorded with her phone and posted on Twitter, she was off to her photo ops and meet & greet.
Next up were Kim Rhodes and Osric Chau. I understand the panel was clever and funny, but I was off getting my picture taken with Ruth (she’s taller than I am and my friends think this is hilarious – I told them I was short). It’s a great photo and she’s a lovely person.
There was another break for photo ops, meet and greets and the Supernatural Costume contest (co-winners – NUTCRACKER and an Impala that was actually drivable!) before Mark Sheppard took the stage.
Mark (Crowley)…likes to walk around the room flinging insults and jokes at everyone – no one was exempt – as he sort of answers questions. He keeps very much to his King of Hell persona and is quick to dismiss you if he doesn’t like your question or you’re too slow or crying or etc. The questions he did answer, he answered thoughtfully and was genuinely nice to any children with the courage to approach him. As he left the stage, he took a moment to remind us all that despite the act he puts on during the panel that he loves and appreciates the #SPNFamily very much and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. All in all a class act.
Richard Speight, Jr., Rob Benedict and Matt Cohen (young John) were next and they were full of energy, funny faces, imitations and bad (as well as good) jokes. Richard was talked in to doing his imitation of Jensen Ackles and describing it will just not do it justice. I’m sure there’s a video on You Tube of him doing Ackles’ ‘comedy elbows’. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard, mostly because he was dead on. He was, for that couple of minutes, Jensen Ackles and Richard reveled in every last second of it.
The three comedians left the stage as Misha Collins (Castiel) entered and took over the room. He was thoughtful and waxed philosophical as he looked at the number of people lined up on each side of the room hoping to ask a question. He mused out loud, “Where does the hope of getting to ask a question stop (in terms of where in line)? And then wanted to know what kept the others in line when they knew they’d probably never make it to the front. “We can see better from here!” yelled one girl in line. Misha complimented her on her honesty. It was funnier than it sounds. He talked a bit about his meet & greet (in the woods, in the rain) and interestingly enough, about body odor. Misha is invited to Thanksgiving at my place as well – I never thought I’d meet anyone else as weird as my family – who knew? Misha did a great job handling the questions he was asked and everyone seemed to enjoy the panel.
The Creation Entertainment staff hustled us out of the theater after autographs so that they could set the stage for the Saturday Night Special concert. We’d been teased and reminded over the last two days to make sure we attended, that it was going to be an “extra special, special”. Sure enough, Saturday afternoon Jensen Ackles tweeted that he’d be performing that night with Louden Swain. The remaining Saturday Night Special tickets sold out within minutes and the anticipation level of the 2000 attendees went into overdrive.
If you’ve never seen Louden Swain in concert, you need to remedy that soon because this is a world-class rock and roll band (everybody’s waiting – thanks Boston) with really, really excellent musicians and a kick ass singer/songwriter. They opened the show with Been a Long Time (Led Zepplin) followed by a couple of songs from their newest record, Sky Alive and the energy in the room when off the charts (what the heck was going to happen when Jensen arrived?). The band was joined by Osric Chau, Briana Buckmaster (she killed Stevie Nicks’ Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around – check You Tube), Kim Rhodes, Ruth Connell, Matt Cohen and Robert Singer playing harmonica and showing us why Chicago is known for the blues. Mark Sheppard joined the band on a second drum kit and Chris Schmelke pounded Borja’s bass for at least one of the songs. Creation’s Adam Malin pulled keyboard duty proving he’s got some musical chops of his own, while Stephanie (also a Creation staffer) belted out Carry On Wayward Son with Louden Swain and the crowd as back-up singers. I think to work at Creation you have to prove you have talent as well as business sense.
Three quarters of the way through the show, the lights on stage dimmed and Louden Swain, joined by Richard Speight, Jr. launched into one of their trademark con songs Seven Bridges Road. As the song came to an end, Jensen Ackles walked out on stage confused. Motioning to Rob and band it seemed as though he’d expected them to wait for him. Yeah, the crowd was on its feet, screaming and if the guys on stage were talking, no one was hearing it. Jensen left the stage in a “huff” after throwing out a couple of comedy elbows to egg the crowd on.
Yeah, you’ve guessed it, he was the next up to sing with the band and he gave another really moving performance of Skynyrd’s Simple Man, this time without his guitar. His voice is really good, great even, and the emotion that he puts into the words is palpable. He missed a cue, and just rolled with it, not letting it bother him or slow him down. The applause and cheering for him reached danger level decibels, but it was worth every second. This hit You Tube within minutes of Jensen walking on stage. Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ip4t6_2rcdc
Rob then asked everyone back onto the stage to sing A Little Help From My Friends before everyone cleared the stage… but wait, encore! Louden Swain came back on and God help if I can’t remember, but they did a couple of songs as an encore before the lights came up. I went back to our room that night unable to speak (no voice left) and with ringing in my ears! The show that Creation puts on in these Saturday Night Specials is as good as (and better than) some of the concerts I attended in my misspent youth. If you ever get to a Supernatural convention, do not miss this experience. Even if Jensen doesn’t make it on stage, it is worth every minute of your time.
Then it was Sunday – J2 day, OMG the day we’d all been waiting for. My roomie and I were up early, couldn’t sleep any longer and down stairs way before the doors opened for the Gold Panel. The electricity in the air was at least a hundred times greater than the day before and everyone was talking at light speed, double checking photo-op tickets and making sure they had their items to autograph with them. I still had no voice, but it didn’t matter…J2!
I’m not going to go through the panels word for word – I know they’ve been summarized and that videos are up on You Tube. I will say this though; Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki love their fans. It’s not hype, it’s not an act. They seem as happy and comfortable up on stage as they might at a dinner party….with 2000 friends. They are funny, they are sincere, they are gorgeous (better looking in person is all I’m sayin’) and when they answer questions they are thoughtful and don’t try to rush through anyone’s question. Even those they’ve answered a million times.
They continued to be happy, open and caring through the photo ops (I couldn’t stop talking to Jensen – Chris had to retake my picture), meet & greets (I was lucky enough to be in Jared’s) and then the second panel, more photos and the long autograph lines. Not one person I spoke to had anything unkind to say about either man. They have perfected the ability to make you feel as though you are the only person in the room with them for the 5.3 seconds it takes to get your picture taken or your photo autographed.
Before the afternoon was over we were treated to a panel with none other than Robert Singer, co-creator, executive producer, writer and director. He’s been with Supernatural from its inception and knows the show better than anyone. He got some very thoughtful, insightful questions and he was happy to share his insider knowledge with us. Sadly, the panel was marred by one person pushing an agenda. This person asked about Castiel’s possession of Jimmy after Swan Song, likening Castiel’s continued use of the Jimmy Novak vessel as equivalent to rape. I felt bad for Mr. Singer, he seemed a little unsure of how to answer and it was clear, at least to me, that they (he, the showrunner, the writers) had never really thought about this at all. I hope that the discomfort he may have felt from that question wasn’t bad enough to keep him away from other conventions. He had very interesting stories about the BTS aspects of the show. It was one of my favorite panels of the weekend.
Autographs were over way to quickly and we could no longer deny that the weekend was over. We were all too suddenly saying good-bye to our new best friends and exchanging Twitter and Facebook IDs. There were many promises made of “See you next year” and “I’ll look for you online” as people admired each other’s photo ops and autographs. Pulling away from the hotel and getting on the expressway home was so hard that my roomie and I stayed up way too late replaying every last second of the weekend. “Did he really say…?” and “Maybe next time we can…” or “What was your favorite panel?” echoed through the house until I truly had no voice left and neither one of us could keep our eyes open.
Supernatural Chicon 2015 was over… when do tickets go on sale for next year?