Well, we’re here at MAGFest X. The Gaylord National Resort & Spa is quite the extravagant backdrop for the craziness that has already and surely will continue to occur throughout the weekend, and while we’ll be lucky to be invited back, it’s certainly beautiful to look at while it lasts.
Last night gave us the first concert of the event with four acts taking to the stage, some new and some MAGFest veterans. On the stage were, in order of appearance, Random Encounter, Descendants of Erdrick, Temp Sound Solutions, and X-Hunters.
Hit the jump for our full impressions and photos courtesy of Emi Spicer.
Since this is the first concert of MAGFest X, I thought I should describe the venue. The music hall consists of three stages, one for the main evening’s concerts, and the others presumably for the chip concerts and jam spaces. The room is huge compared to the one at the Hilton Mark, and I doubt it will be filled even with Uematsu’s Earthbound Papas in the house. The stage is also huge, leaving a lot of space for the band members to move about, but making it feel as though they weren’t as up close and personal.
On to the performances of the evening, Random Encounter made their first MAGFest appearance with their heavy grunge metal sound accompanied by an accordion of all instruments. They performed a set of popular tracks, including their opening, “Terra’s Theme,” followed by “Still More Fighting” from Final Fantasy VII, a track from Cave Story, “Millennial Fair” from Chrono Trigger, “Clash on the Big Bridge,” “Vampire Killer,” and the title theme from the original Metroid with some crazy-fast singing that reminded me of System of a Down. Some of their stranger performances included a “Purple Haze” vs. “One Winged Angel” mash-up, the “Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy” song from Ren & Stimpy, the Jurassic Park theme, and a strange Russian rock tune.
I have to say that while the accordion was given its moment to shine in the “Song of Storms” from their impressive The Legend of Zelda medley, it felt forced and out of place in some of the other tracks. Their heavier grunge metal sound was also just a lot of noise at some points, which I think is intentional, but given how nostalgia plays a key role in this kind of event, it made it hard to discern the catchy melodic bits.
Next up was my favorite act of the night, Descendants of Erdrick, who’d I’d never heard before. They performed relatively few tracks, but they were all substantial, including a number of medleys. They sported a clean rock sound with the addition of a flute that worked wonders throughout many of the pieces, and the guitar work was fantastic. They performed a Metroid medley which they cited Metroid Metal as their inspiration for, including a cool take on the “Item Room” theme with guitar-plucked chirping arpeggios as well as an awesome Double Dragon 2 medley that reminded just how great that soundtrack was. I really dug the Magus segment of their Chrono Trigger medley, but my two favorites had to be Wizards & Warriors with awesome performances of the potion theme and the lava stage theme as well as the Ninja Gaiden 2 medley which made perfect use of the flautist.
Their last piece of the evening was called a ‘Best of Final Fantasy 1991-1992’ segment, which was funny, but I did want to note that they credited Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest to Nobuo Uematsu when we all know he didn’t work on the game. In their defense, they did include material from Final Fantasy IV as well, and hearing the boss themes from the latter along with any music at all live like this from Mystic Quest was a real treat. I want more Mystic Quest music at MAGFest!
Temp Sound Solutions took to the stage next, known MAGFest veterans with generally few tricks up their sleeves. They played their usual mix of obscure arrangements although I give them major credit for including Gauntlet and Faxanadu, easily two of the best soundtracks on the NES. Their “Mega Man Mashup Retrospective” was also enjoyable, opening with the stage select theme from Mega Man 2. I also wanted to note just how well the mix was on this set, as you were really able to pick out each element of their performance without one sound overwhelming the other.
The main concern I had, however, was that nostalgia is a huge factor in an event like MAGFest, like I mentioned above. Covering such obscure material, while fun and great for turning people on to new material, tends not to resonate with the listener as much.
The final act of the night was X-Hunters, a rock group dedicated to the Mega Man X series. They took to the stage in custom-made Mega Man X, Zero, and Vile helmets, which were pretty awesome, and immediately jumped into material from the first Mega Man X game. I was impressed by their fast pace, especially on the part of the drummer who was covered in sweat by the third song as he kept the crazy tempo of their performance. My two favorite performances were “Boomer Kuwanger,” one of the best songs of all time, period, and “Armored Armadillo,” although I could probably say that once you’ve heard a few X-Hunters arrangements, you’ve heard them all as there wasn’t a whole lot of variation in how they tackled the individual pieces.
And that’s it for the first night at MAGFest. Please check out the full gallery below as there are some great tall shots from the performances that you should see.
Tonight will see ARMCANNON, This Place is Haunted, Metroid Metal, and The Megas take to the stage, which should provide a great night of music. We’ll also have coverage of the daily chiptune concerts at some point, so stay tuned!
Let us know what you think of last night’s acts. Which are your favorites?