The MAGFest: Game Over series is a more intermittent offshoot of the greater MAGFest umbrella of events that fills some of the gaps between larger and more prominent episodes. Game Over: Richmond took place at Fallout in — well, Richmond — on Saturday, October 6th from 7pm to… Whenever it was we funneled out of there. I don’t remember. It was very late.
I’m in Hampton for work at the moment, so I figured I’d drop by and check it out. I wasn’t expecting much going in, but it was a total blast and I was inspired to share my experience when I saw that The ChipWIN Blog team was looking for new hands. Before we even got in the building, I noticed several #chipmoms there supporting their adult children, which was very sweet but also somewhat alarming, given the aura of the venue.
The event catered mostly to the local nerdcore scene, featuring popular “brand-name” regional acts and aspiring local artists in a (Bethesda) Fallout-themed barcade that moonlights as an exclusive BDSM club! CLEARLY the venue had a lot of different stuff going on, and it was extremely refreshing to see members of so many different subculture groups coming together to jam out to some retro tunes. If nothing else, it was (what I’d imagine is) a relatively unique opportunity to see a model cosplaying Bowsette rave-hopping her heart out to Castlevania remixes. So, I can cross that off my list of things that I didn’t know I needed to see.
Suitable for Spooptober, the first act was in a retro Ermac costume — as in, the generic-looking “red ninja man” from the original Mortal Kombat arcade cabinet. But there was NOTHING generic about this guy, who I would come to know as Error Macro. He was an experienced and technical drummer whose plan of attack was to bang out hefty, booming drumlines over retro videogame tunes. The first couple of tracks were nothing too out of the ordinary — some well known Megaman and Sonic level themes clearly taken 1:1 from the cartridges they were released on — but later in the set, it became clear he had some understanding of the production of music on authentic hardware, as he began implementing spirited elaborations upon his own original remixes of classic works like the Dr. Mario and Mortal Kombat themes. Most memorable among his set list was his energetic cover of the Dreamland 64 theme, a song that has for years been glued into the background music of my brain because of…uh… reasons.
Next up was Kenobi Style, a duo of novel hip-hop artists armed with launchpad-style MIDI sequencers whose work featured a heavy emphasis on samples pulled from the original trilogy of Star Wars films. Their two albums, which are publicly available for free on their Bandcamp page, are based around various plot points from Episodes IV and V respectively, which suggests that a third album for Episode VI may very well be in the works. They were creative and memorable, but not extremely dynamic, and the event’s vibe mellowed out considerably through their set. That being said, they pulled the “scruffy-looking nerfherder” quip during the lead-up to a beat drop, and I’d be lying if I told you nobody was losing their shit over it.
Random Battles, the third contender, played some damn fine VGMetal and nerdcore, and had a very traditional rock-band presence on the stage. I definitely noticed their experience with the genre coming out in their Castlevania and Chrono-Trigger tracks. I missed part of this set, as I took this opportunity to slam back some PBRs and participate in the Smash 64 tournament (boy oh boy does that game feel dated), but I also got to meet Professor Shyguy and snag some of his siccccccc merch (pictured below) before he went up. Real stand-up guy, let me tell ya.
Then, enter Professor Shyguy‘s act, which for me was the highlight of the show. This guy was all over the place — sauntering through the audience, lying down on tables for guitar solos, inviting the, uh, let’s say hobbyist dancing nuns onstage to jam out with him. The man did it all. What surprised me most, however, was that it was just Brandt — from the music I heard from him prior, I just sort of assumed that the act was a full ensemble of musicians. It’s not. It’s literally one guy, clad in green LED knuckles, wailing on an electric guitar shaped like an SNES. The highlights of his performance for me were his voice-modulated cover of ‘Still Alive’ by Jonathan Coulton, the surprising choice of ‘Go Johnny Go’ as a finale, and — of course — his V.7 submission: ‘Deliver Alucard’. It’s absolutely breathtaking live, as it’s clearly very very technically difficult to perform with just one pair of hands, but he smashed whatever my expectations were going in.
Finally, we have Cowabunga Pizza Time, who opened by asking us, the sweat-drenched and by this point physically fatigued audience, two simple questions:
“Are you hungry?” and, “Ketchup or mustard?”
After comparing the excitement levels of the crowd’s zealous screaming at the mention of each condiment, the frontman nodded wistfully — as if in deep contemplation — before musing, “Thank you. Very important, yes.” The music they played was on another level. While not as rooted in retro gaming or chip-esque music as the acts that came before, these TMNT-themed crowd-pleasers were true nerd warriors — the energy coming out of them was so intense, you could hold up a light bulb and it would light up and probably burst open in the presence of their robust punk-rock exuberance. The frontman was a champion — he was always moving, jumping, or climbing on something as he sang about eating pizza, getting plastered, and living in the sewer, something that all of us blithely degenerate millennials can vibe to. Near the end of their set, out came two large boxes of pizza carried by the hosts, each topped with a spiral of yellow mustard. I can say with certainty that was loudest I’ve ever screamed while eating mustard pizza at 2 am, and you can quote me on that.
The event was hosted really well, and had an ample selection of retro consoles to dick around on in addition to the tournaments they ran, which included Smash 64 and Rock Paper Scissors. It was clearly a lot for Ben Schulz — the MAGFest rep at the helm– to handle, but all things considered, I think he did an excellent job! I had an incredible time and it was undeniably a memorable experience, and I would recommend anyone who likes the sound of it to check out the next MAG-related event in their area! It’s got me totally pumped for Super MAGFest in January and I’m really looking forward to seeing you all there!
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