Bands performing during Ümloud dress up to stand out.
On an early December weeknight at a San Francisco nightclub known as the DNA Lounge, a cue forms on a narrow sidewalk. Hundreds of people (some dressed normally -- others not so much) entered the club one by one for a night of loud rock music from bands that don't technically exist. The club floor is packed, the patrons have ordered their drinks from the bar, and the first band takes the stage.
After a brief introduction, the band begins to jam as the lead guitarist shreds up and down all five buttons on his Rock Band 3 guitar controller. He and many others who shelled out more than $100 per "band" to play Harmonix's video game Rock Band 3 on stage to a live audience were there for a purpose: to raise money for the Child's Play charity.
"People are coming out to have their 15 seconds of fame as rock stars on stage with smoke, lasers, the whole nine, and all that money is going to Child's Play to help children in hospitals around the world who are sick or ill or otherwise in a difficult time in their lives" explains Ümloud co-founder Joe Markert.
This is Ümloud's third year running, raising thousands of dollars for Child's Play since its beginning. Markert says roughly $25,000 had been raised with 2011's event, not including the admission fee for the more than 450 spectators who came to enjoy the show. The previous year's event raised a little more than $11 thousand.
Looking ahead to the future, the men behind Ümloud and the companies that support them (Harmonix and Mad Catz) are expecting big things for 2012's event.
"Three years in and people are taking us seriously as far as corporate sponsors," commented Markert. "[There are] some big names that we feel are going to come on next year and help amp this up even further."
Having the Ümloud event raising five times the capital for Child's Play in 2011 compared to its first-ever event in 2009, the non-profit's founders hope that growth trend continues and they'll be able to raise even more money for the charity next year. More money and more cowbell.