Events, Featured, Game Music

MAGFest 2017: Review & Recap

MAGFest 2017: Review & Recap

January 18, 2017 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook MAGFest 2017: Review & Recapon Twitter


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It’s been just over a week since MAGFest 2017 and a great deal of decompressing was required to be able to properly sum up this year’s experience. I was fortunate enough to see more performances than I normally would (thanks to a willingness to be dragged around), and therefore think I have a pretty good account of just how well this year’s prime Music and Gaming Festival went.

From the main stage to the underground to the secret shows, this year’s MAGFest was a solid lineup and featured a bit of everything to tickle your fancy.

This year was a bit of a toss-up in terms of how it would go when looked at prior to its commencement. MAGFest had decided to infuse this iteration of the event with a lot of fresh blood, and new faces graced a lot of the stages. Some mainstays returned to keep us oldtimers content, and between old and new there seemed to be a lot more bouncing around by Fest-goers curious as to if the new bands and artists stacked up.

The first band I went to right out of the gate Thursday surprised me. Arc Impulse has only been to one MAGFest prior to this one and been a bit underground until now. Making it to the main stage to perform from their new, self-titled album release, the performance itself was indeed a fresh shake up, with solid violin and even the shake-up of a genuine keytar helping bring game music like Kirby Super Star to life. I personally enjoyed the Punch-Out/Rocky mash up montage to a little bit of cheesy goodness. The sound quality was on-par and really help these artists shine on stage. (So long as you ignored The Protomen neon signs on either side of the stage left by the previous performers; personally I thought they should have had some fun with it.)

I unfortunately missed out on the nml styl how, despite hearing the artist couldn’t make it and instead featured visualist Dino as replacement. MAGProm was again the charming mini-event is always has been, with The OneUps dealing out a variety of smooth tunes, and even featuring Donkey Kong composer David Wise coming on stage and playing alongside them. This kind of thing is what makes MAGFest the unique event it is, when random exciting things like a famous game composer will just join up with performers and jam out and make things that much more enjoyable and fun.

Friday was almost completely taken up by my attendance at MAG Underground. Its second year in existence, Underground is a throwback mini-event within MAGFest that sticks to an older formula of having a smaller stage and more rustic, low-key atmosphere. Put together by members of The Shizz.org (Full disclosure; I am a member of The Shizz.), groups like Steel Samurai, Cowabunga Pizza Time and The Tiberian Sons rocked out to a smaller crowd yet no-less energetic crowd. When the polish of Super Guitar Bros. and Triforce Quartet can meet the silly, no-care attitude of of Search Snake and Gimmick, that’s when you capture the soul of earlier MAGFests in the days of yore. I was able to sneak out of Underground for a little bit to catch The Returners featuring their last performance with guitarist Mike “Lobos” Villalobos (bassist for Gimmick also), which was a fortunate and enjoyable thing to catch, especially their inclusion of Echo The Dolphin that hit me right in the nostalgia.


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Then there was Bit Brigade. The band that rocks out to live speedrunning of classic NES games agreed to do not one or two, but three consecutive performances all in one go. Starting off with their previously debuted Castlevania run, they supplemented the Konami classic with Batman (NES) and Ducktails back-to-back. While all shorter games to run in most cases, I give props to gamer Noah for only the one death on Castlevania. I also am thrilled that Batman, one of my favorite NES game soundtracks was finally done by these amazing gentlemen, as the complexity could not have been easy to pull off. (Something guitarist Jace Bartet made mention of to me previous to the show.)


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Saturday was a flurry of trying to catch everything I could and ending up catching so very little. I was fortunate enough to make it part-way through newcomer rock/metal band Gemanon (Though their sound was a bit iffy; we’ll forgive it as they performed well), catch Super Guitar Bros perform at the Megamanathon (Also its own mini-event for charity), and finish up the main concerts with Knight of the Round blasting killer Final Fantasy metal and drawing a fantastic crowd (Also sounding fantastic; the sound was either very good or mediocre/shoddy this year, to whom it may concern). Also, in true MAGFest tradition, a super secret JAMspace show with Super Soul Bros. performing at midnight was a highlight that I was happy I got dragged to as they unsurprisingly killed it. Have you ever seen moshing to soul/jazz music? That is the kind of energy they bring to the table, especially when “Hydrocity Zone” from Sonic 3 starts up.


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All-in-all, I have to say this MAGFest surprised me. I honestly thought a lot of it would be uninteresting to me and that I would make very few of the performances due to lack of desire, and I in fact ended up seeing more than I have at any previous MAGFest short of my first one (Which was MAGFest X.) and enjoyed them all to one degree or another. I have been critical of MAGFest’s short-notice artist announcements and questionable lineups in the past, but I was happy to be shown that my criticism was a lot less warranted than I gave them credit. (The short notice with reveals is still irksome but some things you just have to get used to.) Logistics aside, the music at MAGFest 2017 was a refreshing mix of just the right amount and flavor of older performers and new blood to keep things interesting.

Did you go to MAGFest 2017? What were your impressions of the musical performances?

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