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MAGFest 12: Mini-Musical Review

January 9, 2014 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook MAGFest 12: Mini-Musical Reviewon Twitter

MAGfest has once again come and gone from our lives for another year. For the 12th year in a row, the music and gaming festival has managed to bring a variety of people, bands, and cultures all together in one place and blown the roof off the Gaylord National Harbor. New faces graced the stages, huge surprises were unveiled, and an excited energy permeated the halls of the convention center and hotel alike. Now that it’s over and things like PMD (post-MAG depression) and MAGPlague have settled into the hearts (and lungs) of many ‘fest-goers, it’s time to remember some of that excitement and good feelings that MAGFest always seems to create.

As far as the performances for this year, I’ll admit that I did not see as many as I’d originally intended, as is usually the case. What I did manage to see absolutely blew my mind, however.

Thursday night’s first MAGProm was, in my opinion, a rousing success. A good crowd of people gussied-up for the event, which is always a sight to see at a gathering of this nature. Love Canon‘s debut at MAG seemed to create a different kind of energy than normal concerts stir-up, with their mellow bluegrass style to popular ’80s rock and pop songs a good portion of ‘fest-goers remember growing up with and being influenced by. There was no moshing or headbanging, but rather actual dancing and the occasional do-se-do in dresses and suits around the main stage. The OneUps then took the stage with their usual funk-laden groove that complimented the mellowness of Love Canon with a slightly-more upbeat and rhythmic energy that MAGFest attendees easily can get into and that I never tire of hearing/seeing. This was an extra special performance by the band as well, as it’s not ever day that an engagement happens on a MAG stage. Congratulations to Brandon Hood and Erin McQuisten on the happy event and one of the more unique question-poppings I’ve seen. I missed the full performance of Bit Brigade, but did manage to catch their sound check and heard fantastic things about their super-secret Zelda run from several creditable sources and can conclude I missed something awesome.

Friday began the whirlwind that is MAGFest’s regular band performances and concert lineups. Newcomer Viking Guitar Live woke us all up out of our MAGProm-induced haze with a flurry of heavy metal beats and shredding, performing tracks from his various game-related albums such as a truncated Super Castlevania 4 medley “Whipcracker,” Golden Axe‘s “They Call me Axe-Battler” and featuring “High Roller” from Grant “Stemage” Henry’s Where Good Marble Go to Die album. Sadly, I didn’t get to experience a whole lot of the other performances on Friday for various reasons. However, based on the buzz, I know the highlights of the day were A_Rival and the Danimal Cannon featuring Zep chiptune sets, as well as Super Guitar Bros shows blowing it out of the water.

Saturday’s shows, what I caught, were equally enjoyable. Caught a bit of Dethlehem, and even though they weren’t anything I’m truly into, they had a nice crowd of people and certainly a colorful ensemble. LONELYROLLINGSTARS, on the other hand, garnered a ton of fun and positive energy with their set and ended up being on of the more popular new bands this year. Performing their entire “Carnivortex” album live, with arrangements from Sonic Adventure 2, Leisure Suit Larry in honor of Al Lowe, Turrican 2 and their signature debut song “LONELYR~.BAT” from Katamari Damacy which ended with their littlest honorary band member dancing on stage and a human katamari being created during the song. Even with a song disaster happening halfway through, it all seemed to go along with the fun atmosphere they created. Triforce Quartet played to a jam-packed audience that looked more akin to an outdoor festival than an indoor performance, with quiet spectators sitting criss-crossed in the entire Stage 2 room and being rewarded with fantastic string medley ensembles from Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros and a encore featuring music from Game of Thrones. While I didn’t attend it, I was informed by several sources that Cheap Dinosaurs absolutely crushed their chiptune set and I regret not getting to see them. Those Who Fight put on good performance with their large cast of players. The only thing I was disappointed about was Machinae Supremacy who, while their performance sounded solid, did nothing from Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams that they had worked on with Giana Sisters original composer Chris Huelsbeck and had a history with. It seemed to me that MAGFest would have been the ideal locale to do something like that, but that is simply one bias gripe amongst an otherwise big stage performance.

Obviously this is but a small chunk of the wide variety of musical acts that graced the two stages of MAGFest 12 this year. It’s always a challenge attempting to catch everything going on at an event that is progressively getting bigger and more involved each iteration, and hopefully my new co-editor Michael can follow up my small review with his own experiences at MAGFest this year and cover more ground. Regardless of how much or how little seen at this year’s music and gaming festival, the overall impression remains solid and always manages to deliver in one way or another, and like so many others I already can’t wait until MAGFest 13.

What were your favorite bands of MAGFest 12? Comment and give us your insight!

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