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Sundancing 2012: For many at festival, the focus is far from the films

January 29th, 2012 Posted in Arts and Life

Story & Photos by Ben Hansen
Special to the HNC

PARK CITY—The Sundance Film Festival, a staple in the motion-picture industry, has become equally famous in recent years for the abundance of world-class activity occurring at the festival off-screen. An overwhelming offering of daytime and nighttime activities can make the Sundance experience very daunting, with many events needing an invite, RSVP, or press credentials to attend.

After more than 60 hours of Sundancing in almost every way known to man (stopping only to sleep), presented below are the best non-film activities that took place during the festival.

ESPN and AT&T Universe NFL Gameday Party

The film festival coincides with the AFC/NFC championship games annually, and ESPN made its annual presence known with the 6th annual ESPN lounge to facilitate the best viewing of the games. Invitations were required for this party, and those who received them were anything but disappointed.

A good selection of drinks and food were offered throughout the games.  Large flat panel and projector TVs were set up at almost every angle, making it possible to view the game from anywhere in the party. Even the empty pre-game and halftime were entertaining, as a live band filled the gaps to keep the party going. Held at the St. Regis in Park City, this year’s party set the precedent for years to come.

A number of A-list celebrities were there, including actor and performer Nick Lachey. While many stars seek isolation and refuge at crowded events, Lachey was but another member of the crowd, sharing his personality and love for the game with everyone. No NFL party is complete without players, and two top-notch wide receivers were also there—former Pro-Bowler Brandon Lloyd of the St. Louis Rams and Donté Stallworth of the Washington Redskins posed for pictures, talked fantasy football, and spent time interacting with fans throughout the games.

Living Breathing Films Launch with Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and Clown

Concerts and live music were everywhere throughout the Sundance Festival, day and night, in town and at private parties. Venues lined up dozens of musical acts at locations throughout town, with access ranging from the general public to invitation-only. Any festival-goer with credentials could take in acts like Natasha Beddingfield at the ASCAP Music Café, while Park City Live and the Sidecar offered ticketed events open to the public ranging from Li’l Jon to LMFAO. Chance encounters with legendary musicians were common during opening weekend, as Neil Young and Jason Mraz were present at the Bing Bar.

Private events often offered the best music that Sundance could offer. The Carhartt Backcountry Club offered up the best musical offering of opening weekend, as Slipknot lead singer Corey Taylor and drummer Shawn Crahan held a press conference to announce the release of their new TV and film production company, Living Breathing Films. A limited number of journalists and some selected Slipknot fans were given the opportunity to be up close and personal at this event.

As a special treat, Taylor and Clown performed a set as their own two-man acoustic band, playing under the name The Tiajuana Things. Attendees were treated to an eight-song acoustic set, with diverse numbers ranging from covers like Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” and U2’s “With or Without You” to the musicians originals like “Bother” by Taylor’s side project Stoned Sour.

Fans and media alike seemed giddy at the opportunity to experience these two metal legends in such an intimate environment, as the limited crowd capped at around 50. After the set, Taylor and Clown roamed the audience, posing for pictures, signing autographs, and enjoying the opportunity to be so close to their fans.

Eco-Hideaway Music Saves Lives Lounge Brings the Rock Feeling to Sundance

Debbie Durkin’s ECO HIDEAWAY Music Saves Lives Lounge was one of the elite gifting suites, and was an invitation-only event. Located at the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley, this retreat from the busy traffic areas of Sundance was an oasis above the main events.

KBER 101, Utah’s biggest rock radio station, offered a live broadcast from the lounge. Many interesting and cutting-edge design manufacturers were present, with all making generous donations to various charities.

Aaron Hirsch-Perry, son of legendary Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, was in attendance representing Joe’s Rock Your World offerings. Guitar picks, stylish women’s clothing, and Joe’s signature hot sauce were some of the items that were available in this segment of the lounge. All of these items are available to the general public, and can be purchased directly through Perry’s website.

Another standout area of the lounge belonged to Sonas San Francisco. This unique denim company uses recycled and scrap denim to make über-fashionable clothing, catering to both the modern and retro appeal. A full line of unique hand-made designs make their jeans artistic and stylish at the same time.

Park City Live Continues the Harry O’s Tradition with One Republic

When Harry O’s on Main STreet in Park City closed its doors in 2011, many feared that this would be the end of an era for the Sundance Film Festival. Harry O’s had previously hosted big concerts in its small venue throughout the past several years, which had included Metallica, Velvet Revolver, T.I., and many others.

Enter Park City Live, one of Sundance’s top new destinations. Park City Live took over the former Harry O’s building  and provided constant top-notch entertainment throughout the entire festival, featuring artists like Deadmau5, Lil’ Jon and Redfoo of LMFAO. The momentum continued with platinum artists One Republic headlining a highly-anticipated concert.

One Republic played to a packed crowd around midnight Wednesday. Regardless of its late arrival, the band performed a full set, covering all their current and past hits. Popular songs “Stop and Stare,” “Secrets” and “Apologize” were mixed into the earlier numbers, bringing the early-morning crowd to life. The later anthems “Marching On” and “Good Life” kept the excitement going.

Lead singer Ryan Tedder was once again vocally solid, strongly reaching his full range of notes in each song regardless of the hour or the altitude. At one point he joked with the crowd about a forthcoming Wikipedia fact that this would be the “highest altitude show played by the band,” before leading the audience into a cover of the classic, “Stand by Me.”

The audience was also treated to a new song, “Life in Color,” which Tedder announced will be on One Republic’s highly-anticipated new album later this year.

T-Mobile Village at the Lift is the Perfect Place to Unwind

The T-Mobile Village returned in 2012, this year stationed around the base of the town ski lift on Main Street in Park City. This year’s Village at the Lift included a range of spectacles, ranging from events for the public, the press, and by-invitation-only.  Celebrities could be seen walking in and out of every building in the complex throughout the weekend, and camera flashes seemed to go off every couple of minutes as more famous faces circulated.

All of those who wandered into the lift area seemed to have a great time. As the first building “up the stairs,” McDonald’s McCafé lounge served complimentary refreshing treats and hot beverages to anyone who walked through their doors. This also included a long list of celebrities, who autographed items in various places on the walls of the building.

The Miami Oasis provided an invitation-only gifting and lounge experience, with a flurry of high-profile celebrities making the rounds. When Daryl Hannah is the person in front of you walking the lounge, you know that you are in one of the hot spots of the festival.  Patron and Disarono drinks were given to guests, and custom Patron muddles were made for all patrons wishing to take their mojito building skills home with them. Got2b hairstyles offered complimentary styling and products, making sure that those briefly escaping the snow received newfound life to their hairdos. Another highlight was Udi’s Gluten-Free Foods, which served a wide variety of tasty items—minus the gluten. For those interested in trying out the gluten-free diet, it was refreshing to find options that also tasted excellent.

Gen Art Returned to Sundance with a Full Slate

Last year, many folks were disappointed when Gen Art did not participate in the Sundance Film Festival. 2012 was a different story, as Gen Art returned to Sundance at their usual Sky Lodge location on Main Street, hosting a number of events for members and celebrities alike.

Daytime activities were in full swing and open to all members, as Gen Art hosted the Bertolli Meal Soup Soup Chalet, where visitors were given daily helpings of hot, fresh soup to help combat the weekend blizzards.  In addition, guests were treated to a number of gifts from exceptional companies, including Lumene cosmetics, Tic Tac Mints, Philadelphia Industry Lounge, and once again Bertolli, who provided patrons with scarves and hand warmers.

By night, the venue transformed into a celebration house, hosting a handful of after parties and must-see events.  The highlight once again this year was their 5th annual “7 Fresh Faces in Film” party by Gen Art and 7 For All Mankind. This event honored seven talented actors from the film festival this year, which included Lizzy Caplan, Alexia Rasmussen, Ari Graynor, Christopher Abbot, Dreama Walker, Gina Rodriguez, and Zachary Booth. For more information on Gen Art go to www.genart.org

Skullcandy x Bandpage Compound Provide a Party with Everything

Skullcandy, creators of a number of famous consumer headphone designs, threw one of the best parties at the festival, which went into the early morning hours of Tuesday. The party, thrown at an anonymous location tucked in the neighborhoods by the Canyons resort, provided a Sundance to remember for many. Guests were shuttled to the location from a general parking area, with the remote location giving this party the immediate feel of a raging house party.

Barbeque was provided during the day, and drinks and appetizers were provided throughout the night. A large dance floor on the upper level of the compound was the perfect place for late night/early morning guest performances by Lil’ Jon and Afrojack, as they provided sets that kept the crowd going all night long.

Gifting was exceptional at the party, with Skullcandy presenting VIPs with high quality Aviator series headphones with custom engraving. The Aviator series are soft, comfortable, and sound incredible.

Another high point of the party was the opportunity for guests to get their hands on a pair of Huggrz Boot Wraps. Named the top “swag” item of Sundance, these highly-coveted boot wraps allow for unlimited style options for boots that you already own, creating customized footwear into the hottest styles without having to spend significant amounts on new boots.


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  1. 2 Responses to “Sundancing 2012: For many at festival, the focus is far from the films”

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