Sonic Boom: Behind the Scenes

One of the most frequent questions we get asked every year is whether or not Summer of Sonic would ever be held in the United States, but due to many reasons “SoSUS” never come to fruition. Unsurprisingly though there has been a huge demand for a Sonic convention state-side, and it was really only a matter of time before one materialised.

With the Sonic’s 20th anniversary around the corner, SEGA of America spearheaded plans to create their own official convention, the appropriately named Sonic Boom. Aaron Webber, the newly appointed Sonic Brand Manager took on the role of chief coordinator for Sonic Boom and got in touch with Dreadknux and myself a few weeks back, and cordially invited us both to the event.

We didn’t need to be asked twice!

The convention had been carefully timed to coincide with the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles’ downtown convention centre venue. Sonic Boom was scheduled to take place in the moody and ambient environment of Club Nokia, a versatile bar come night club within walking distance of E3; a perfect site to celebrate twenty years of Sonic the Hedgehog.

I arrived at the venue early in the afternoon with Aaron, and before we’d even made our way upstairs we were greeted by fans queuing outside Club Nokia; some of them had been camped out since 6am that morning in order to score a place inside the venue as they had not been able to acquire a ticket. If that’s not dedication, I really don’t know what is! Kellie and Julian from the American community team (who you will know from the Free Stuff Friday videos!) were running around upstairs in the venue coordinating the setup of stands, pods and making sure everything was in place – a familiar scene to anyone who has been involved in the organisation of Summer of Sonic!

Even more familiar faces were up on stage as Jun Senoue, Johnny Gioeli and Alex Makhlouf (from Cash Cash, the band involved with the Sonic Colors soundtrack) were performing a dry run of the tracks they were going to be playing later on that evening. After a warm reunion with the guys I sat back to take some snaps and enjoy the privileged position of being an invited guest backstage at an event. I must have looked pretty dumb, but nevertheless I could not get rid of the huge grin on my face as the guys blistered through their fresh new set list, which included a brand new version of Sonic CD’s “Sonic Boom” and Sonic R’s “Super Sonic Racing”. What’s more, Alex’s accompaniment on synthesiser added another layer of ecstasy to the already monstrous set, and took the lead on the funky fresh new version of “Escape from the City” which will be gracing the in-game soundtrack for Sonic Generations!

I got an opportunity to briefly catch up with Johnny after rehearsals, and as always was up for a bit of laugh, as you can see from the picture (although I don’t think SEGA will be taking him on as their new mascot – stick to your day job, Johnny!). Another act rehearsing on stage before the doors opened was the cast of Needlemouse the musical. American fans will remember this bunch as the winners of the 19th anniversary competition last year, and were the lucky recipients of a trip to Japan to play Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode One. These guys were fantastic and incredibly animated on stage, so much so most of us assisting set up had to pause to watch and laugh at the jokes they were cracking. AJ and the bunch came to talk to me after their run-through, and were even kind enough to let me have my picture taken with them – an absolutely great bunch of guys and gals and well-deserving of the incredible ovation they received later in the evening (watch their performance here!).

By 5 o’clock the venue was taking shape, with the merchandise stands set up (each entrant received a Sonic hat, a special edition Sonic Generations T-Shirt and badge set) and nearly twenty gaming stations were primed and ready to give the throng of rabid Sonic fans outside a chance to play the demo of Sonic Generations. A number of photo booths had also been established to allow fans to record photographic postcards and video messages for Sonic’s birthday (you can check out Aaron and my postcard here, Dread’s postcard here and Yuji Naka’s here). Outside a huge queue of fans had formed, eagerly awaiting entry into the venue. Aaron and I went outside to rattle the crowd up a bit, and got to shake the hands of a few fans that had recognised Aaron and me.

At 6 o’clock sharp the doors opened and the mass of fans piled in. I took a brief trip upstairs to the VIP lounge, where the likes of Iizuka-san, Oshima-san and Naka-san were meeting other industry members at an exclusive VIP event. Unfortunately I was not introduced to Naka-san, but I was reintroduced to Iizuka-san, who smiled courteously as we had already met that week! Dreadknux appeared at the venue after his busy day at E3 (and was fashionably late as always!) and we proceeded downstairs to the main event floor.

A heap of guys came to greet Dread and I (there are far too many of you to mention!) and it really made our day – so if you came up and said hi, thanks loads; it really a pleasure to meet you all! TSS staffer, Sonic Retro writer and Sonic Show star Brad Flick was down on the time trial competition station hastily jotting down top scores on Green Hill Zone – you will have to keep an eye out for some hilarious pictures of Brad and Dreadknux in their bronik poses! Similarly to Summer of Sonic, there were a massive variety of cosplayers at the event too, including SSMB’s own mikeblastdude who came in an awesome Metal Sonic getup, and an excellent Charmy the Bee cosplayer. We also caught up with Scarred Sun from Retro and Shayne representing TSSZ news. I’ve never met either in reality before so we got to have a good chinwag and posed for a few photos for posterity – both are fantastic people and I certainly hope we get to all meet again in the near future.

Aaron appeared on stage to welcome all of the guests to Sonic Boom, and it wasn’t long before Jun, Johnny and Alex were on stage blowing the socks off all those in attendance. A lucky few spotted Naka-san on the event floor and managed to grab his autograph and a photo before he disappeared backstage once more. Jun, not one for passing up the opportunity to meet fans, came down off stage with the legendary Sonic guitar to sign autos and pose for pictures with a handful of fortunate fans.

Following Needlemouse: the Musical, the best of the cosplayers were invited on stage to participate in the cosplay contest, and Iizuka-san, Miyamoto-san and Senoue-san were all invited up to wish Sonic a happy birthday and to sing him a happy birthday song…and of course, Sonic was present too, along with his birthday cake! It wasn’t long before Dread and I found ourselves up on stage, telling the Los Angeles crowd all about Summer of Sonic. I had been really nervous beforehand about how the crowd would receive us on stage (especially considering the acts we were following!) but the audience were really receptive, and cheered us on – thank you all for letting us talk to you briefly, and hopefully we’ve enticed some of you to come to Summer of Sonic!

Naka-san and Miyamoto-san, along with Oshima-san joined the cast on stage at the end of the show once again and were presented with the graffiti artist’s drawing of classic and modern Sonic which had been created over the course of the evening. I’m sure most will agree the evening past all too quickly, and before long it was time to close up the evenings proceedings.

Dread and I pitched in to assist with the clean up, and ended up collapsing in the dressing room to have a chin-wag with Alex (who is also a massive Sonic nerd by the way!) After moving a precious cargo of guitars, we emerged on the street next to the Nokia theatre and ran into our good friend Richard Jacques, who was just as surprised to see us as we were to see him! Exhausted, we crashed for a few drinks at a local bar as well as a few last photographs of the day, and toasted the success of Sonic Boom.

I’d like to end by applauding the fantastic job Aaron and the team at SoA did putting together an event of this magnitude in such a short period of time, and all those involved in the stage entertainment over the course of the evening. America has now had a taste of a Sonic convention, and I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear of Sonic Boom. I’d also like to thank Aaron on behalf of Dread and myself for sponsoring our trip to Sonic Boom; I’m sure I also speak for both of us by saying we are both honoured and flattered to have been considered during the creation of this event to represent Summer of Sonic; we’ve had the time of our lives, and I’m sure I speak for hundreds of other fans when I say…

SONIC BOOM ROCKS!!!

Published by

Adam Tuff

With a decade under his belt, Adam is one of The Sonic Stadium's most seasoned writers, with interests in the music and merchandise of the Sonic the Hedgehog universe. Adam is the co-organiser for the Summer of Sonic convention.

32 Comments

    1. I think I’d have to agree with you there! Lots of great memories I’ll cherish for years to come!

  1. Excellent overview!

    honestly that was the most amazing celebration I have ever been to. Crush 40 was awesome. Needlemouse the musical was very fun and entertaining. And seeing Naka, Oshima and Iszuka in person was like a dream. Can’t wait for Sonic’s 30 birthday.

  2. Congrats fellas!!! Your article made feel like i was there myself! *Clap, clap*

    Great to see that everything went smooth and it was a very successful!!!

    Looking forward to see SoS11!!! It will blow our socks off!!!

    Wish i could come too but i can’t afford a ticket to London! 🙁

    1. I’d wish I went to Sonic Boom, as well as SoS11 playing ‘Sonic Generations’, but the flight tickets cost an arm and a leg here in Australia!! We to have Sonic fans down here guys.

      1. I know what you mean my friend! Well at least we have great fellas here in Sonic Stadium providing us with everything Sonic related and i’m sure we’ll see many vids/photos and overviews of the event! 🙂

  3. Aaron wasn’t joking in his earlier interview with Gamespot when he said “Any Sonic Fan would be jealous to miss”. I regret not being able to go but I really hope there’s another opportunity like this next year. It honestly looked like a dream convention XD

  4. I’ll say! I’ve never been so happy and excited my entire life! It was great meeting you in person and I will see you at SoS soon!

    One thing for sure, Richard Jacques happened to be there for the Video Games Live concert on the same day as Sonic Boom. That’s why you were surprised to see him, T-bird, because Tallarico invited him at that show and place him on the list for the meet and greet. 😀

  5. Hi there- Blaze the Cat cosplayer here~

    It was real shameless fun~ I hope they do another Sonic con west-side, maybe a tad bit longer and perhaps even merchandise to purchase! (Perhaps some more planning can be done should there be a next year~)

    =D All in all though, I’m glad I could gather the money to travel there in the first place! I guess I better get crackin’ on my next cosplay lol.

      1. |D I traveled up from Sacramento (about an hour and a half flight away- no way in hell I’m driving 8 hours lol)

          1. Woah- lol… XD that’s some serious dedication there!

            But yeah- flew down and took the train back. Wasn’t so bad~

  6. Yay, I got mentioned in the article! I feel special. 😀

    Anyway, Sonic Boom was awesome, I had such a good time! I’m really glad I was able to make it down there. I got to play Sonic Generations, see Crush 40 perform live, and meet some awesome people. SEGA definitely knows how to throw a party!

  7. A great night had by all 🙂
    A few questions
    – Was the cake an actual cake? There was no slicing to be had and it seemed pretty solid
    – Where the heck was Richard Jacques? Was he doing a spot for Video Games Live that night?
    – Think it might be an annual event? 🙂

    1. – As far as we could tell, the cake was a cake – we didn’t get a slice though!
      – Richard was at VGL, we caught him later after the show – he wasn’t at Sonic Boom.
      – I think hundreds of people hope this will be annual! If it is, I’ll be back!

  8. I had an EXCELLENT time, having fun covering the event for TSSZ News, and it was completely and totally awesome being able to FINALLY meet Dreadknux and T-Bird in person after all these years. I am definitely in for seeing another State-side event next year!

      1. @Jix No, I wasn’t quite able to grab Naka-san in time, before he went backstage. I’m pretty sure I saw you there. You had a Sonic Team jacket right?

        @T-bird Thank you! That’s so cool for me! The community team seemed to really like it as well!

        I cheered the loudest for blaze.

        1. Yep, I was the tall guy with the Sonic Team jacket on. I was like 3 – 4 people behind you in line and I saw you had your Sonic 1 copy with you .. too bad you missed out, I almost didn’t get a signature

    1. Oh wow, that was you! Awesome getup – you’ll be pleased to know that back stage Alex and myself knew you were going to be in the top three – he was really impressed with your costume!

  9. hi guys, what an awesome article, each time when somebody mention about (sonic boom) I get so jealous for those who went there and celebrated sonic 20th birthday, wish I could have gone there myself, can’t believe I missed the party, but you guys with articles and videos about (sonic boom) cheered me up a bit (I felt I was there with you guys and all), I hope they make another celebration next year (crossing fingers), I’m saving some money from now because the ticket flight is kinda expensive from kuwait to the USA Plus long journey to get there ( 12 hours if I’m not mistaken ), but I’m not going to let anything stand in my way when it comes to my most favourite video game character (I’m a biggest Sonic fan for over 20 years).

    for those of you went there, glad to hear that you guys had a lot of fun and like to thank you for celebrating Sonic’s birthday and hope you all are looking forward for next convention ( let’s all wish for that to happen 😀 )

    and for those who haven’t got the chance to go there, you are not alone so let’s do our best and try to go for the next convention.

  10. LMAO check out cake Sonic’s ugly mug!!

    I think the US has a lower concentration of Sonic fans… So any events held would call for people to trek many miles just to get to an event held in one of the “chosen-by-god cities” that get anything and everything fun all the time. Top examples being New York, and Los Angeles… Whereas in Europe traveling anywhere in the nation never seems too ridiculous. Not to mention it seems there are more fans there for some odd reason.

    None-the-less, I am envious that you guys had so much fun. Hopefully I’ll get to go myself next time; given the opportunity presents itself.

    1. Badges are on their way 🙂 Were you really going to travel from where you’re from to the event? If so, that’s hardcore dedication

  11. I live in Dallas and was unable to attend, anyone know where if there’s an mp3 or vid of them doing Sonic Boom? That’s one of my favs 🙂

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