There was a red carpet, plenty of security, and a closed, tight guest list. But the hoards of fans at YouTube Live yesterday, held at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, weren't there to see your average celebrity. No, this was all about Internet phenoms - those who've bared their all on YouTube (willingly or unwillingly) and as a result have found fame, fortune, or just an audience for the really weird stuff they do in their spare time.
Billed as part party, part concert, the first-ever YouTube Live was a sort of customer appreciation day. There was Guitar Hero video game stations, live painting, food, jugglers and circus performers, and tons of music. On the outside stage, local performers like Goh Nakamura and Mistah F.A.B. warmed up the audience - plus two candy-colored hula-hoopers.
But the main event of the night was held inside the Herbst Pavilion - a ninety-minute live variety show that kicked off with Katy Perry, and also featured YouTube stars like Charlie the Unicorn, the Discovery Channel's MythBusters (who performed an amazing paint-ball stunt), the blender guy (who puts anything and everything through a blender), the "Chocolate Rain" dude Tay Zonday, Chad Vader, the guy who interviewed politicians in his dorm room, the free hugs dude, and others. Check out video of talented beatboxer Beardyman.
There were also some real-life celebrities, including Joe Satriani, who performed with the Korean guitar prodigy Funtwo; DJ Mike Relm who did some kick-ass scratching using famous YouTube videos; will.i.am.; SF Mayor Gavin Newsom and his wife Jennifer; and, oddly, rapper-singer Akon (whose YouTube moments of fame include him assaulting female fans).
Overall, it was an ambitious event that was pulled off with style. More importantly, it was convincing evidence that YouTube and the Internet in general can lift the Every (Wo)man out of obscurity and into the limelight - at least momentarily.