Game Music

MAGFest 8: Night 2 (Feat. ARM CANNON, The OneUps, Mustin’s Feet)

January 3, 2010 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook MAGFest 8: Night 2 (Feat. ARM CANNON, The OneUps, Mustin’s Feet)on Twitter

[Above: The stinky feet of Mustin. I told him we’d be posting them!]

Another night, another great list of bands here at MAGFest 8. Tonight’s concert was probably the one I was anticipating most, as I was looking forward to hearing ARM CANNON live after being impressed with their CD, and of course, my favorite game music band, The OneUps. That’s not to say the other bands weren’t good, as everyone had something to offer.

From the small orchestral ensemble that is Select Start to the rock stylings of This Place is Haunted, ARM CANNON, and Temp Sound Solutions, to the jazzy flavor of the OneUps, night 2 offered up a lot of variety as well as a few surprises.

Read our impressions of last night’s concerts after the jump.

The evening started with Select Start, a small orchestral ensemble with strings, woodwinds, and piano among other instruments. I must say that I really enjoyed their set which opened with “Kraid” from Metroid before moving unexpectedly to Mitsuda’s Kirite album, and “Sakura #4” from Xenosaga III, both of which were beautiful. Other tracks included “Athletics” from Yoshi’s Island, which had everyone clapping along, “Mystic Forest” and “Terra’s Theme” from Final Fantasy VI, and an awesome surprise in the form of “Brave Heart” from Solar Jetman, which I hadn’t heard of before. I have to say overall that Select Start sounded a bit thin even for a small ensemble (I can’t quite pinpoint what was missing: maybe percussion?), but it was a nice change of pace from all the rock-oriented bands that dominate the scene.

[Select Start was the opening act of the evening]

On that note, This Place Is Haunted was next. They surprised the audience with a track from Pro Wrestling before launching into Zelda, Chrono Trigger, and Castlevania. Their pieces were typically longer, coming in medley format, which was different than what I was used to. Their Castlevania track, for example, went through the entire game and cleared the 10 minute mark. They also performed a Disney medley which was a lot of fun, touching on classics like Little Mermaid and Aladdin, but the singing was less than stellar. Some people I talked to complained that the band sounded a little loose compared to last year, and I have to agree that they weren’t performing at the same level as the acts that followed.

It was then on to ARM CANNON, who really rocked the house. They were off to a rough start, however, abruptly stopping in the middle of their opening Castlevania track before apologizing and, in their words, moving on to a much cooler track, “Boomer Kuwanger” from Mega Man X. I absolutely love this track, and their rock rendition was a nice contrast to the jazzier version I know from The OneUps. They also performed standards from Chrono Trigger and Contra, but had several interesting segments as well. Kid Icarus was a first for me to hear live, and their version is a lot of fun, in line with the original score by Hip Tanaka. “Still More Fighting” from Final Fantasy VII was a faithful modernization of the track, which was amazing. They also performed the first stage and boss theme from Ninja Gaiden which was personally the highlight for me. I’m in love with the music from Ninja Gaiden, and think more bands need to get into the series. They ended their set with a series of fun tracks with some surprisingly great vocal work, including “Ghostbusters,” Hulk Hogan’s “Real American” theme song, Shawn Michael’s “I’m a Sexy Boy” theme song, and Tecmo Superbowl. Their performance was very tight, and I particularly loved the fact that synth is featured prominently in their group without overpowering the rock elements. They’ve definitely earned themselves a new fan.

[ARM CANNON rocked the house with Danimal Cannon on guitar]

The OneUps then took to the stage and played a massive set of 18 songs. I can’t describe them all here, but all of them were great. They hit everything from Mario to Mega Man to Final Fantasy to Metroid (several times). Highlights included the opening “Title BGM” from Metroid, “Sagat” from Street Fighter II, “Shadow Man” from Mega Man III, and “The Silence of the Daylight” from Castlevania II.

[The OneUps with a few substitutions…]

They also had a number of special segments featuring Elaine Li from Select Start on violin. While the volume on the violin was a bit overwhelming at times, her contributions were much appreciated. “Chocobo” was a lot of fun despite me generally hating how overplayed this track is, “Dire Dire Docks from Super Mario 64 was simply beautiful, and “Dungeon Medley” from The Legend of Zelda was intense with an additional guest appearance by rapper A_Rival. Finally, they performed “Tristram” which was completely amazing. They debuted this arrangement at PAX, and I was excited to hear it live for myself. As an encore, the group performed “Hell March” from Red Alert, another treat, and a heavy rock one at that, which was an interesting change of style for the group.

[Elaine Li joined the group for several segments throughout the set]

One thing to note about this performance was that Anthony Lofton was absent, and therefore, there was no saxophone in any of the arrangements. Kunal, the drummer from The Smash Bros filled in on keys, and did a great job of it, but it was kind of strange to see The OneUps without Lofton’s smooth touch. Also, at one point about midway through the concert, Mustin removed his shoes, playing in his socks for a bit before removing his socks as well, jumping around the stage barefooted. It was a great set, and I appreciated the length.

While the evening’s schedule was mostly on time before the OneUps, their 18 songs kind of ruined all the saved time. This meant that the final act, Temp Sound Solutions, got off to a late start. They opened with a nice but extremely short intro from Wizards & Warriors before launching into the awesome work of Vince DiCola. They played music from Transformers, which was a rare but much appreciated treat. I wish they had included more in their set. Next was my favorite track of theirs from a game that I’ve been trying to get other bands to pick up. It was Gauntlet, and it was amazing. From here, the band launched into a series of songs that I didn’t recognize and were often not introduced by name. After being teased with Wizards & Warriors, Transformers, and Gauntlet, this was a bit of a letdown.

All in all, it was another great evening for game music. I was turned on to the music of Select Start (major props for getting Kirite and Xenosaga in their set), got to know ARM CANNON in a live setting (Ninja Gaiden is awesome!), and affirmed my adoration for The OneUps. There’s still more ahead with tomorrow night’s concerns featuring Jake Kaufman and crew from The Smash Bros, so stay tuned!

Are you a fan of any of the bands that performed last night? Are you surprised by any of their selections?

[From earlier in the evening: ARM CANNON in a trance!]

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