On September 14, the MIT campus hosted the second annual Boston Festival Indie Games. The one-day event featured games by local independent developers, talks by people from the game industry, and viewings of gaming documentaries. To end the event, a concert was held at the Middle East Downstairs, a small music venue just a few blocks away from the MIT campus. This concert, titled Boston Plays Indies, featured music by Deadbeatblast, Control Group, DJ Cutman, and the Video Game Orchestra. I had the chance to see the VGO (Video Game Orchestra) perform before and I was also familiar with the work of DJ Cutman, but I was not as familiar with either Deadbeatblast or Control Group. Having some idea of what to expect, I entered the club and took my seat for what ended up being a great evening of music.
Starting up the show was solo artist Deadbeatblast, a chiptune DJ from Toronto, Canada who’s setup consisted of two Nintendo Game Boys and a set of devices to mix and manage the audio being generated by the two handheld devices. All of the music was original work by the artist. No covers or remixes, but all of it created with the 8-bit sounds available to him on the Nintendo hardware. To describe the music as simply chiptune or 8-bit is too inaccurate and vague. Many of the pieces he performed had an aggressive and experimental sound, similar to what you would hear in industrial genre music. Even with this experimental vibe, Deadbeatblast’s tunes maintained a good steady dance beat that the audience could rock out too. A particular favorite of mine was “Hyperspace”, a piece that started with a simple pattern and steadily built up as he continued to stack more and more music elements into the mix. Pieces took sudden but brief shifts in tempo, incorporated improvised interruptions, and always kept me guessing as to where the music would go next. The performance was full of great rhythms, memorable moments, and some great chiptune sounds. He has definitely made a fan out of me. (more…)