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MAGFest X Night 3: The Grand Finale

January 10, 2012 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook MAGFest X Night 3: The Grand Finaleon Twitter

I can’t believe it’s already over. After a weekend of music, games, and friends, MAGFest X is officially a part of history. The event this year saw record attendance with approximately 6,100 attendees, an unprecedented number of bands across multiple stages and an absolutely stunning venue in the Gaylord National Resort & Spa. Writing this on the plane ride back home, I’m already looking forward to next year.

The last evening’s performances included some of the top acts, including the headlining band, the Eartbound Papas. We also saw Bit Brigade, The OneUps, and 20XX, all of which were impressive on stage.

Hit the jump for our impressions as well as some amazing photos of the performance s from Emi Spicer.

Everyone was anticipating Uematsu’s appearance right from the start. There was an electricity in the air as each act took to the stage, as everyone knew we were one step closer to the moment we were all waiting for. Fortunately each of the night’s bands were incredibly entertaining, easily making it the best of the three nights at MAGFest.

Bit Brigade opened with their unique performance style of playing a game soundtrack in real time to a speed run (also done in real time), which was shown on screens around the stage. They performed Mega Man 2 this year, complete with boss jingles and the catchy map jingle for the Wily stages. Hearing each of the stage themes and the corresponding boss theme at the end of each stage (which was of course very short, as the speed runner blew through each boss in less than fifteen seconds apiece) was great fun as their rock arrangements were true to the originals. The audience had a lot of fun with this one, booing Wily when he appeared and cheering loudly at the end of each stage.  I also got a kick out of the crowd chanting “Holy shit!” instead of “One more song!” at the end of the performance.

[Bit Brigade interacts with its fans at the end of their performance]

It’s important to note however that Bit Brigade did take some liberties with the performance. They didn’t simply loop tracks that went beyond one playthrough; they instead would add more percussion or increase the tempo to add an even greater sense of urgency, which was a nice touch although it was probably stressful for the speed runner. They also plugged in a few Mega Man 3 tracks into silent areas towards the end of the game which took me a few seconds to notice, including the Mega Man 3 opening during the repeat boss fights at the end of the game.

Next up were The OneUps who provided what was easily one of the best performances of MAGFest. Right in line with what I was thinking after their retrospective concert the day before on stage 2, this main stage concert focused on their new sound with Mustin on synthesizer performing his beefy bass sections that brought down the house. The OneUps also debuted their new costumes, tossing out the classy (or Mormon-esque, apparently) shirt and tie for futuristic black outfits decked out with OneUps logos on their chest that lit up in sequence, rings and belt buckles with red and blue lights, and a pair of shades for each performer. Also of note was the fact that Mustin kept his shoes on for the entire performance, which everyone was thankful for.

[The Mustin showing off his new outfit and blowing the place up with his bass]

Their set list included many tracks from their upcoming Intergalactic Continuoum album, with very little from the Intergalactic Redux album. They opened with Angry Birds, which was a huge surprise with its super funky and cool vibe. I could use that to describe nearly every track, which included pieces from Battletoads, Ikari Warriors, and God of War, which had people rubbing up on one another in the audience. Yeah, it was that hot. Their Toejam & Earl segment featured Kunal Majmudar on auxiliary percussion, and they closed out the night with what is easily the best version ever of “One Winged Angel.” The arrangement was super heavy with killer bass, amazing solos, and a cool jazzy bridge section. There was even a guy dancing to this arrangement nearby, which was an odd site to behold. This was easily one of the best sets at MAGFest, and I’m really looking forward to Intergalactic Continuoum at this point.

I had never heard 20XX before, but they really brought the heat with their convincing shred metal performance. These guys are extremely talented, and I appreciate what they’re doing even if this style of music isn’t really my thing. Lightning-fast percussion and electric guitars dominated the night in pieces from games you’d expect metal arrangements from: Gauntlet, Wizards & Warriors, Castlevania (“Vampire Killer”), Mega Man X, Bad Dudes, Metal Gear (my favorites their performances), Contra, and “Dancing Mad,” which was completely epic. They also did a cover of Metallica’s “Battery,” which just felt strange to me as I wasn’t really looking for a Metallica cover band at MAGFest. Still, the fans responded by putting their lighters and cellphones in the air.

[20XX plays blows the audience away with their lightning-fast guitar work]

That brings us to highlight of the event, Nobuo Uematsu’s Earthbound Papas. More than 2,000 people crammed together in the concert hall to see their idol perform on stage with his band of all-stars, and they did not disappoint in the slightest.

I actually didn’t take a whole lot of notes as I wanted to enjoy the performance, but I did jot down what was being performed.  They took to the stage in some pretty unique world-inspired garb, with Yoshitaka Hirota wearing something Chinese in appearance, Okamiya Thai, and Uematsu African.  They also had a lot of fun on stage, partaking in some Sam Adams as well as Uematsu returning the colossus scream in response to the audience. It’s also important to note that only the band was featured, and the vocal bits by Nip-Nop, the alien narrator on the album voiced by Emi Evans was not featured (more on that in our post-show interview with the band).

In terms of what was played, they opened with “Octopus Theory” before moving through to the mellow “Thread of Fate” from GUINSAGA and “The Forest of Thousand Years” from Octave Theory. You’ll notice that two of those are original tracks, which I was surprised to hear live.  They also performed new (at least to the Eartbound Papas) arrangements of “Still More Fighting” from Final Fantasy VII (which drove the crowd wild), “Clash on the Bridge” from Final Fantasy V, and an amazing full-length “Dancing Mad” from Final Fantasy VI.  Fans really responded to all three given their source material, and I think these were more in line with the rock-dominated sets at MAGFest.

[Okamiya on the left and Narita on the right rock out, with Narita regularly switching instruments during the set]

The fans of course demanded an encore, and we got it in the form of “Maybe I’m a Lion” from Final Fantasy VIII, complete with crazy band antics including Uematsu playing his keyboard with his butt (the possessed hand shot in the header image was from “Dancing Mad”). The screams were so intense that I’m only now recovering my voice from the event. Despite the short set, fans left complete satisfied, myself included.

It was a great end to the main stage at MAGFest, although a ‘secret’ chiptune concert would later take place featuring some amazing acts as well. Still, I think most of us in that room will remember that performance for the rest of our lives as our idol performed on stage with his band, legitimizing even more an event that we’ve all grown with and adored, and I can already tell that this is the beginning of a new and exciting different story for MAGFest. Be sure to join us next year, and check out the amazing photo gallery below!

Let us know what you think of the acts and MAGFest in general. Did this year’s event blow you away, or if you didn’t attend, did it inspire you to go next year?

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