Chip Music

Blip Festival Europe 2009: A Chiptune Journey

July 29, 2009 | | 6 Comments Share thison Facebook Blip Festival Europe 2009: A Chiptune Journeyon Twitter

About one week ago I was casually sitting back with my good friend Wizwars on Skype, talking about myself as usual. It was an ordinary Sunday, with nothing big on the horizon, and hopefully, for the first time in a while, I was going to have a slow, relaxing week. However as the night went on, and all the topics that relate to yours truly were already covered, Wizwars finally had a chance to speak and inform me of something that would completely change my plans of having a slow week

Blipfest, the world’s biggest chiptune event was coming to Europe, and they were going to be here the following Friday.  I was completely shocked and probably jumped back a couple of feet before I was able to collect myself and gets some oxygen into my system. Being a huge fan of chip tunes, I had to be there, and with less than 5 days to make sure of that, I immediately got to work. The destination was Aalborg, Denmark, and Friday morning, 24th of July, I was on my way.

Read more about my journey to Blipfest after the jump!

For this trip, I had brought my great friend and chiptune artist Phlogiston to assist me in covering the event, making sure that combined, we were able to suck in everything Blipfest was throwing at us. After 4 hours of me trying to overcome my deep fear of using urinals and failing, we finally arrived in Denmark at the ship docks in Hirtshals, a town approximately 50 minutes away from Aalborg city.  We hopped on a train from there, and saw a lot of classic-style houses and the famous wind turbines supplying power to the households. It all made for a very pleasant and relaxing trip.

We finally arrived at our final destination, and walked down the street a few minutes to get to the old industry area of Aalborg. The venue is called Platform 4 (P4), and is located in the midst of abandoned warehouses and silos. P4 itself is an old warehouse converted into a concert venue. The promoter, Christian Villium, is a student in communication, and was an intern at a company in Chicago, which enabled him to get contacts to help fund BlipFest Europe. When speaking with Christian, I learned that P4 is completely built with recycled materials, and their cafeteria sells all natural eco-friendly products, which also includes a very tasty beer called Nutty. Seeing the atmosphere and quality of the location, and Christian’s hard work and dedication in making P4 what it is, I grew to respect him deeply, and I can honestly say that it is one of the best places I’ve been for a show.

Before the show, I met up with my good friends Dino and Don, who are more well known as Cheap Dinosaurs and NoCarrier. I met these two gentlemen during my days in the United States, and it was a pleasure to finally see them so close to my own turf. As we hugged and celebrated our reunion, the staff was setting up the show, and we were getting ready for the world’s largest chiptune concert finally kicking off for the first time in Europe.

The first act of Friday was Bu Bu Kitty Fuckers, which was a relatively unknown band for most of us and a local Danish act. Because of their young age and inexperience, they were not as well received as they might have hoped, but for me it was a good start and a buildup for what would become a historic night in chiptune history. We continued on with Rabato, a Spanish gentleman with a handlebar mustache. A very funky and enjoyable set with good crowd energy. From there we heard minusbaby, glomag and Covox, which were all great shows, and the crowd was deeply into each act.

The next man to step on stage, Nullsleep, is a man who needs no introduction. One of the founders of 8BitPeoples and probably the most famous chiptune artist today, he took to the stage with a pair of boots and a determined look. His set was in a style of trance/dance music and while it is not my preferred style of music, his stage presence, energy and aura quickly dragged me in, and made me a bigger fan than before.

[Nullsleep in action]

The act of the night for me however was easily the Swedish artist Goto80. Before the show I had the chance to talk with him about chiptunes and concerts and I was quickly charmed by his sense of humor and approach to music in general. It’s hard to clearly describe his set, but it contained catchy pop tunes, screams, naked 8bit ladies on the monitors and a Swedish chiptune artist with a perverted smirk on his face. Fantastic stuff.

After a night of some drinking and a few hours of sleep, we were ready for night two of Blipfest. During the day however, I finally had the chance to meet one of my favorites and a man I deeply respect, Hally-san. Hally is a chiptune artist from Japan who also works with the video game publisher D4E. As we met and talked, we quickly became the best of friends and discussed game music, hentai games and pro wrestling for 12 hours. The man can also consume alcohol like no one else I have met, and to quote him “Alcohol is very good for my body” says it all. The first act of the night was my good friend Dino of Cheap Dinosaurs. With his adventurous game boy based chiptunes, he was an excellent starting act for the night, though I personally wish more people had arrived in time to see it. Nontheless, excellent show.

As the night went on, we saw La Belle Indifference, Saskrotch and Receptors, which again, were outstanding shows, with Saskrotch being the most impressive on the bunch. Bit Shifter and Random were the next acts, and both men are people who I got to know during Blip and befriend. Random is a Swedish artist who, with his soft spoken voice and friendly nature, is very approachable, and Bit Shifter is another of the 8bitpeoples founders and all around great guy who I am very thankful I got spend some time with. Their shows were awesome, and seeing Random was something I had wanted to see for the longest time. Hally-san was next up, and what a show! Hally does his music from 2 modified Famicom carts and sings through a robotic voice filter. With his positive energy, amazing music and dancing that would put Gene Kelly to shame, the crowd all erupted in Hally chants and dancing. As an extra bonus, he for the first time ever, performed his Psyvariar mix live, which is my favorite work of Hally.

[Hally’s show and his modified Famicom cart which accepts nsf files on sd cards]

After the show, Hally and I started talking again and proceeded to fill up on beer and laughter. As we spoke about the doujin music scene, the night slowly faded and morning was about to emerge. Hally retired to his room for a few hours of sleep and we parted ways and agreed to meet at the train station for a last good bye. I waited for Hally-san to arrive, but he did not show, and eventually, train after train was leaving and I was becoming worried that Hally might have overslept, all because I had kept him up to talk. A few hours after his train had left, he finally arrived at the train station very tired but as positive as ever, and happy to see us still waiting for him. I personally felt so bad that I had to buy him a hotdog lunch and sat down for a quick last chat. As his train is about to leave, we hugged and agreed that we should stay in touch and that it was an honor to meet. We finally waved goodbye, sharing a real Casablanca moment as only a Norwegian and a Japanese game music fanatic can have.

[Hally and Audun, the beer in hand explains everything]

I eventually arrived home after 2 days of nearly no sleep and only Burger King chicken burgers to keep me alive. It feels strange that less than a week ago, I had no idea that I would get to see so many acts that I had only dreamt of seeing, and meet people I admire so much, such as Random, Bit Shifter, Nullsleep and Hally-san, and also meet old friends again for a heartfelt reunion. I left Denmark with a smile, great memories, and great new friends. I hope from the bottom of my heart, that next year, we will all be able to reunite again.

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