The turnout didn't surprise me given it was a free event with a captive audience. Having attended numerous TechEd's I would put this party toward the lower end of the quality scale (LA being the worst). Food and drink were fine, it's hard to screw that up. As far as activity the bands were decent but just local bands (and apparently a fake Tina Turner which I fortunately missed), a big name artist performing a full set would've made it worthwhile given there was really little else that you would've wanted to pay $125 for. In the past they're hosted Train, Jessica Simpson, Blondie, et al. The activities on the fake astroturf "football field" were from the local carnival. Good move on not getting a guest pass.
For free? I don't regret wasting the hour or two I was there. For $125? I would've been disappointed given the high quality restaurant experiences that could be had around town with a spouse.