Chip Music, Game Music, Indie Music

MAGFest 8: New Year’s Eve Concert

January 1, 2010 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook MAGFest 8: New Year’s Eve Concerton Twitter

Well, we’re here. At least I am. This is my first MAGfest, and while I’ve been trying to get out here for years, I’m just now getting around to it. Many OSV staffers regularly attend this fan-oriented 4-day gaming and music party, and I’m quickly starting to understand why.

While the New Year’s Eve party wasn’t a part of the official MAGFest schedule, it turned out that MAGFest was the only convention in town this year, so the “surprise announcement” was made earlier in December.  I suppose MAGFest doesn’t officially start until January 1, so I still see the show as a bonus, and it was a truly awesome one at that (see the above photo where a fan joined virt on-stage for some fist pumping!).  With a lineup including Brentafloss, Zen Albatross, Random Gibberish, Double Ice Backfire, virt, and Renard in that order, it was a great (and long) evening to ring in the New Year.

Find out our impressions of the first evening of festivities here at MAGFest VIII after the jump!

When I first entered the music room, Brentafloss was on stage. For those who are unfamiliar, he basically takes game music and creates goofy and often funny lyrical accompaniments. I found myself laughing a lot during his set, and I knew right away that I had found a special place where I could appreciate this kind of stuff. If I had been among other company, I might have been embarrassed by the cheesiness of his songs, but everyone got a laugh out of it, and the visuals on the projector screen also added to the performance.

Next up, Zen Albatross performed a series of chip tunes covering everything from drum ‘n’ bass to slow dance. This set was one of the best of the evening, actually, as I’d never heard of Zen Albatross and was pleasantly surprised by his versatility. He started with heavier material that had fans in the front of the room dancing and jumping, and ended with some slower music to let things simmer. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more of his work during the chiptune concert on Friday night.


[Zen Albatross performing chiptunes on stage]

Random Gibberish then took to the stage. Don’t know these guys? Nobody did. They’re apparently a group out of San Diego who haven’t made it outside of California until now. They performed a lengthy set with one band member on vocals and another on piano and backup vocals. Many of the songs weren’t game related (there were a few), but they were definitely nerdy and quite funny. Again, I was surprised, and glad I was in such understanding company.

Shael Riley was up next with his new band, Double Ice Backfire. First of all, they took forever to get their sound check done. Secondly, I had no experience with Shael Riley’s music, but I can pretty adamantly say that I don’t like it. The NSF files he created and the system by which he loaded them during the set was impressive, but I have to say that I don’t particularly care for his vocals or the guitar and drums that drown out all of the carefully crafted chip music. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t get the appeal. Even more, virt had been scheduled to ring in the New Year, but due to the fact that everything was so behind schedule, the New Year fell in the middle of Double Ice Backfire’s set, at which point there was a break for MAGFest organizer Brendan Becker to talk for a moment and display a powerpoint countdown. After this interruption, the band continued, but most of the attendees left the room to start up their own personal parties in their room.

The fact at so many people left was a huge shame, as virt was up next. While the room was a bit cold when Jake got started, people quickly returned as his intense drum ‘n’ bass chiptunes filled the halls and trailed out into the gaming areas. Soon after he started, the audience members were running, jumping, flailing, and doing all sorts of crazy dance moves all over the room. The response was impressive. While virt didn’t “perform” the music (It was a DJ set), there was a lot of good music to be heard, and Jake was active on stage, leading the crowd and doing dance moves to his musical cues. My favorites pieces of the set were an amazing rendition of the Metroid “Ending,” a track from his work on Scurge: Hive, music from his Mighty Flip Champs soundtrack, and “Love Foolosophy” by Jamiroquai. This was a great set, and I loved every minute of it. I’m also looking forward to hearing him Friday night.


[virt works the crowd during his DJ set]

The last set of the evening was Renard. I knew nothing about him before this performance, but Jake had warned me beforehand that I was in for something awesome. If I had to sum up Renard in one phrase, it’d be happy-hardcore 300bpm chip music. It was intense, and had the hardcore fans who remained in the room for this 2:00 AM set moshing and dancing with glowing armband things that I think people use at raves. It’s funny, because Renard opened with this beautiful belltone melody that was sort of crystalline, but it wasn’t long before an explosion of sound ensued, and true to what Jake had described to me, it was simply crazy.


[Renard jumps around the stage like a crazy man]

This was certainly a great way to welcome 2010. There were laughs, moments of beauty, and intense, heart-pumping moments of excitement. It was also a great preview of MAGFest VIII. I think there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming days, and while it’s a huge shame if you didn’t make it this year, you can count on us to bring you reports from each evening’s performance as well as special reports from the floor. Stay tuned, and let us know what you’re looking forward to the most from MAGFest VIII.

Are you a fan of any of the artists that performed tonight? Can you think of a better way for a game music fan to celebrate the New Year?

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