I would like to start this article off with an apology. Longtime fans of the blog may know that, generally, if I’m writing a post-event retrospective (i.e. PAX East or MAGFest) I make it a point to not only cover the music but also the various games I played at the event – highlighting indie games is one of my favorite things to do, as it helps smaller devs get some much needed press. Unfortunately, due to my increased duties helping sling merch at Chipspace this year, I was unable to play any games at MAG, so this year’s review is limited to the chiptune showcases that I caught at both Chipspace & main stage. Which isn’t to say there’s not a lot to talk about, because holy balls, there were a lot of awesome showcases at both venues!
I didn’t realize it until now, but the fanbases of both the Rocky Horror Picture Show and chipmusic share more than a few similarities with each other. Both of them have a history that spans decades, over which time they’ve seen a steady growth in popularity, while remaining far from what I’d consider to be mainstream. Their respective fanbases, between which there is clear crossover or this album wouldn’t exist, both celebrate their art with a passionately creative DIY approach. ‘The Rocky Horror Chiptune Show’ is a collaborative achievement, which started as a live performance on 6/27, between Boston’s Rocky Horror shadowcast, The Full Body Cast, geekbeatradio, and a slew of talented chiptune artists and animators from the Boston 8-Bit collective. The album version was produced by my fellow writer on this blog, Jamie Billings (The Unicorn Princess). Everyone involved with this project, with their creative flair and style to spare, has really managed to capture lightning in a bottle here. This delightful reimagining of a classic has been released just in time to have it on loop at your Halloween party.
Hello everyone! It is I, Danny Pryor, here to take you on another random adventure!
As you may or may not know, I am a co-host on a show called geekbeatradio (*cough* Mondays 10pm-12am EST on geekbeatradio and wemfradio*cough*), where we talk about everything geek and nerd.
I am very lucky to be able to host some fine events in the wonderful city of Boston and this month has been no exception. Three great events happened in the area and after I tell you a bit about them you will most likely want to live here FOREVER…or at least want to come and visit!
The month of July started off right with an event hosted by geekbeatradio, leaguepodcast, and WEMF’s own Dave Crespo at McGann’s Irish Pub. Now you might ask, “Danny, why do you need THAT many people to host one event?” I’d answer you that when you have Skyblew, D&D Sluggers, AND Mega Ran come to your city, you better call in the cavalry. With the help of some of the best talent you can find in the city, we helped to make the Boston stop of the Odds ‘N’ Ends Tour a total success!
The night started off strong with a force..of Will (Sorry, Force of Will) a nerdcore rapper out of Salem, MA. His music spoke about what is like growing up a nerd and how the people in the nerdcore rap scene have influenced him. One of my favorite songs he performed used a beat by K-Murdock and Mega Ran called Forever which he called “RPGography” which is about his first experiences with tabletop games and RPGs.
As soon as his intro song went out over the speakers, his coveted luchador mask was donned. In full character, he blasted into his first track, “Robot Man“.The crowd moved to the front to join into the festivities once he started “Power Walking the Agro Crag“. He is the only man who can get through “The Legends of the Hidden Temple” with 60 seconds still on the clock.
Sam Mulligan was next in line, who is one of those guys you need for literally EVERY show. He always makes me smile with his catchy, funny tunes about hunting for Sasquatch or getting abducted by aliens. One song, even though it was a cover, was my personal favorite of the night, asking the audience, “What is your Fantasy?” In true to life Sammy Sam form, he nailed every single verse, top to bottom (head to toes?). Don’t forget, he is one of the founding members of HYPE$QUAD, so this is just another one of many talents he is capable of performing in almost any situation.
It was my first time seeing SkyBlew take the stage, and I was not disappointed. Forging a connection with the gamers in the crowd through songs like HM 2, a Pokemon reference to the Hidden Move called “Fly”, while still remaining loyal to his campaign of bringing substance back to hip-hop with tracks like “The Theory of C.O.L.O.R.S.“. It is only a matter of time before this lyrical genius becomes a major player in the hip hop scene, with his heartfelt yet true to life words of wisdom.
D&D Sluggers, to put it bluntly, brings the party. After getting the chance to talk to Soultronand learning a bit about how he uses a Nintendo DS and guitar to make the people move, I was instantly hooked. The song that really got me moving was, “I Will Not Be There“, which brought together this amazing combination of chip and rock that kept me hyperventilating throughout the entire performance.
*BREATH IN, BREATH OUT*
And of course, I can’t go without mentioning the headliner, Random AKA Mega Ran. Since I first heard Mega Ran’s song “Grow Up” I have been following his every move. His brilliant insight into the minds of video game characters, clean lyrics, and all around fun mentality, makes him an amazing act to see live. Some of his instrumentals were played from an original Famicom system and with a custom cart which only added to the nostalgic feelings filling the room. He played a great combination of songs we all know and love, to new tracks that were just recently released, specifically “Infinite Lives” featuring Soultron of D&D Sluggers. Getting the chance to hear the two of them play this live was a sure fire way to get the song stuck in my head for the rest of my life! I even fell victim to his freestyle majesty when I handed him my Legend of Zelda wallet and was called out for not having any money in it. Obviously, chants for an encore ensued so he sat us all down for story time. The fact that he got everyone to sit down on a dirty bar room floor because we all wanted to be good listeners just proves that he is one of the best hip-hop artists around!
A huge thank you to all the artists for coming out and giving it your all, you were all truly inspirational in your performance!
BUT WAIT! THAT’S NOT ALL!
On July 4th geekbeatradio was fortunate enough to help run our first ever BBQ at the HorrorHaus here in Boston. Hosted by the magnificent Mega Mega, we set up a projection screen with Super Nintendo games, speakers for live musicians, and even held a costume contest judged by Cosplay aficionados Harley Bean and Knives Jones.
Live acts that included the multi-talented duo of Seventh Gear, playing solo sets as Best Defense and Robotsexmusic, Diamond Machine (who me?), and of course the super sonata songster, Bifflecup! Between the sweet jams playing from geekbeatradio.com, amazing burgers, fantastic friends and a glass of whiskey (neat), made it one of the best 4th of July celebrations I have had in a long time.
YES! THERE’S MORE!!!
July 12th was another big first for geekbeatradio, as we held our first ever video game tournament at Comicazi! We held a Super Smash Brothers Melee tournament, as it was the game being played at EVO 2014 that day, and we had plenty of dedicated players there to compete. We handed out cash prizes to the first and second place winners, had live chiptune music playing, and Mega Mega even brought cookies and brownies for everyone. What a guy!
Although it was a bit more of a casual tournament there was still a hunger to win from the competitors as it was a single elimination tournament. The final battle for first was a Captain Falcon mirror match which was a great surprise to me as I usually expect a Fox or Falco to end up being at the end. The game was played on a CRT TV and projected onto a screen for everyone to watch!
The always loyal crew of chip artists came out to perform and keep a fun atmosphere the entire night. Diamond Machine started off the night, followed by Bifflecup, Best Defense, and Robotsexmusic. Everyone played their heart out that night, and we even got a visit from our good friend James Johnson, local entrepreneur and one of the creators of the game “Thief Town“. Go and vote for it on Greenlight since local multiplayer is the future of gaming!!!!
Whew! That is a lot of stuff going on in just a couple of weeks, but we are NOT stopping there!! We still have some AMAZING guests coming on the radio show in the next few weeks, a couple more shows to plan and a few tricks up our sleeves. Make sure to tune in so you are not left in the dark!!!!
Hello and welcome to “The Adventures of Danny Danny Pryor”, my brand new event review column! For about two weeks I have gone on a nonstop chiptune campaign, working with a lot of wonderful people along the way. Here is a quick summary of one of my adventures, the great people I came into contact with, and a few video game references along the way.
POP CULTURE EXPO (TACTICS)
On Memorial Day weekend, I found myself in Wilmington, MA for the Pop Culture Expo: an event focusing on celebrities, comics, and everything nerd. I arrived there with my fellow co-host Bory to setup what would be known as the geekbeatradio stage. With the help of our trusted sound wizard, we showcased some of the finest music this side of the Finath River.
Glenntai held a tutorial on Famitracker, showing people young and old exactly how to make da chip while at the same time melting faces with his music.
Robotsexmusic‘s class was a bit more impromptu, as people tend to just rush the stage when he starts to play.
Two people that I was EXTREMELY happy to see play were Janx and AutoReMi-PK since I don’t see much of them unless it is MAGfest season, and they did not disappoint! Janx played a few chip-hop tracks, while AutoReMi-PK played a version of Chai Kingdom that had me jumping up and down with joy! We were also graced by the sweet tunes of Astro Logic, Best Defense, and Bifflecup! Astro Logic played a lot of his classic tunes but a version of “Forgot about Dre” got people fired up like “dey was in da club”. Best Defense had the biggest setup, running a laptop, MPC, and of course, a game boy! He graced us with some tailor-made beats that he slowly evolved by the end of his set. Bifflecup played a full set of his sonata chiptunes and even played a few new tracks he has been working on. His classical music style plus his Milkytracker skills make for a phenomenal combination.
On Saturday night, I was fortunate to have all these amazing people support me as I opened up the after party which was headlined by Kristen Nairn, also known as Hodor from the HBO series “Game of Thrones”. Special thanks to Glenntai for being the perfect hype man to announce me to the stage and to Best Defense for providing me with this SWEET YOUTUBE VIDEO of my performance.
I am extremely thankful for everyone coming and everyone who stayed and helped take everything apart afterwords. Quite possibly one of the best weekends I have had in a LONG WHILE. Special thank you to Maddie and Pixel Pixie Apparel & Promotions for not only making the AMAZING geekbeatradio banner for us, but for supporting us no matter how crazy Bory and I may be.
BONUS PICTURE WHERE I TURNED INTO A SAILOR MOON CHARACTER AND REMY STARTED TO MALFUNCTION
In the past, I have helped write a couple FAQs when dealing with different levels and bosses, but once you have become a seasoned player, you might be looking for a more tailored experience. There are many methods for achieving this, from button combinations to sound test codes, but my personal recommendation is finding the closest warp zone to you and navigating through the mayhem! My recent adventure led me to the realm of PAX EAST, located in world Boston-MA. Although I kept a detailed log of all my encounters in this mysterious yet familiar land, sadly I only collected 3 OUT OF 20 pages, which detail some of my exploits.
JOURNAL ENTRY #1
Boston 8 Bit has collected some of the finest artists for both the Jamspace and Chip Stage as they have done in the past, and the talent here is insurmountable! Sam Mulligan started off the day playing some of his famous hits and then OMG! SHARK PARTY! I didn’t think I would make it through until The World Is Square told me to “let go” and a fight broke out between myself and the flying shark boss. I managed to defeat it with my remaining flame rounds and a quick visit to what I like to call Knife City a.k.a. circling around it and swiping my combat blade. Note to self: Save more ammo.
I have finally arrived outside the city, at a location only known as Comicazi. Here I met the honorable Bifflecup, composer extraordinaire. My companions Astro Logic and Best Defense arrive with me, each of us carrying the sacred songs of our ancestors. We know we must all perform, each at a different time, in order to complete the quest and send the dragons/demons/evil things back from whence they came. Surrounded by ancient books and artifacts of days of old, I hope to find the courage to display my strength as I begin to slowly make my way towards fulfilling my destiny. I am nervous as I stand among everyone and I hope that…oh I’m sorry… They want me to stop writing now and play the songs. Nope…Nope…Seems a bit too late now…Demons everywhere…Stupid journal.
Hmmm…well then… I should probably get more than three journal entries next time. It’s those collectible achievements…I swear you can NEVER get them all in one go. You have to play the same game like 20 times in some cases.
Wellllpppp… GUESS I SHOULD HIT PAX EAST AGAIN NEXT YEAR!!!
If you’re reading this you’ve probably had MAGfest happenings drilled into your skull for the last two months or so (definitely not the words of an incredibly jealous man -______-). For the uninitiated: MAGFest is an annual video gaming & music festival taking place just outside of Washington D.C., this year in its 12th iteration and featuring a chipmusic stage curated with the help of the Chiptune = WIN team [read: Brandon]. The ever-genius that he is, Brandon thought the best way to celebrate this momentous coalition was to create a compilation comprised from twelve of the MAG 12 chip performers and release it under the Chiptune = WIN banner AT MAGFest…. AND THAT HE DID. My thoughts/feels/jealous insults regarding the release below:
01. Chipocrite – High Fives (To The Face) [new remix]
8static veteran and Philly’s resident chiptune-cover artist, Chipocrite, starts the album with a huge, monstrously catchy track. Dipping and diving between tense build-ups and ballad-pop phrases, ‘High Fives…’ has more twists than a dozen oxbow lakes and some masterful melodic play too, all sounding rather melancholic and compositionally mature, with so much ground covered in so little time. It’s clear from this single track why the talent has gained such currency in the live circuits.
02. Roboctopus – Good Night Stars
Roboctopus. Multi-instrumentalist, composer extraordinaire and writer of one of my favourite 2013 release, the godly ‘Disco.txt’. If that isn’t enough to get you soaking about hearing this, then hopefully the following hyperbole will. ‘Good Night Stars’ is exactly what you would expect from a Roboctopus track, in that it is masterfully composed with incredibly affective melodies, a range of styles too large to be represented empirically and those beautiful LSDJ instruments which solidify both his sound and his unique voice so succinctly. A masterclass in how LSDJ should be programmed, and how to stand out strong in the sea of mediocrity that the chiptune scene can be.
03. Danimal Cannon – Red Planet
Member of Armcannon, releases on Ubiktune, split with Zef, known for his flagrant flaunting of untouchable guitar skills alongside demanding but rewarding melds of progressive metal and chipjazz. Yep, Danimal Cannon makes an unsurprisingly incredible appearance on this compilation. Sounding not unlike label mate Yoann Turpin via Dream Theater/ [insert djent band of choice], ‘Red Planet’ sees Danimal scratching another notch off his ‘top ch00ns’ bedpost, with some incredibly well-produced guitars thickening his masterfully composed chiptune in a genuine musical spectacle.
04. Trey Frey – Vox Humana
A king in the dying days of 8bc, over the last few years things from Trey have been fairly scarce. However, following a recent slew of highly regarded live performances, the promise of a new full length in the pipeline, a track finishing off the WeeklyTreat project for 2013 [*cough cough* self-advertising *cough*] and now this, it seems the stars have aligned in the Earth’s favour. It appears Trey Frey is back. Coming home only like he would, ‘Vox Humana’ is a seething patchwork of fluid noise, beats, melodies and EDM, foaming at the mouth with groove. If you’re at MAG and you missed his performance shut up forever.
05. Rainbowdragoneyes – JjasonSalazZ
Known under for his blending of metal and europop, Rainbowdragoneyes doesn’t let his slightly bewildering reputation down an iota. Returning to that oddly effective genre mashing, (but more on the side of europop here), RDE throws together guttural “hey”s, scalic arps and polka inspirations into a full broth of addictive, chantable and down-right ‘barmy’ (so Radio 4) funky chip pop. There are a few overzealous pirate analogies in there somewhere to explain this, but I’ll let you find them yourself.
06. nickelPUNK – Outrun 2.1 (ft. Ryn)
Funky 80s house from nickelPUNK with accompanying vocals from the President’s First Lady. May seem a bit mis-matched on paper, but the music itself is precise and gorgeous, rife with Miami House vibes, the Hotline Miami soundtrack ran through the Telefuture mincer. Not only that, but the vocals on the top are, well, simply put: Erin’s singing sounds as good as her cooking looks. Only let-down is it’s mixed by Brandon, so if they’d shaken the dead weight it could have been a straight ten but, oh well. He’s always gotta let the side down. [Editor’s note: Suck it, Kilpatty, you smelly buttfart.]
07. Inverse Phase – Unit F [Amiiiiigaaaaa edit]
Originally written for a compilation in 2010 to help aid the fight against cancer, Inverse Phase has re-imagined his own track with Amiga sounds. Known probably better for his many cover releases, tracks like this solidify why he gets called to make soundtracks, play live and put forth for compilations like this time and time again; ‘Unit F’ is incredibly well-written. Simple. Lurching around with incredibly eerie tones, an unsettling atmosphere and some ingenious counter-melodies and scalic work running over the track, turn out the lights and prepare to weep (and not because you missed MAGfest [well this time anyway]).
08. Awesome Force – The MAGnificent Sinner
If his mind-blowing BRKfest set (still streamable on his Bandcamp) didn’t clue you in already, Awesome Force is an awesome force to be reckoned with live (just kill me now). The track he’s supplied jumps between nods to drum n bass, huge melodic motifs, syncopated funk bridges and a slowly building intensity that is as all-encompassing as it is effective; it will literally asphyxiate you with squarewaves. Dripping in as much energy as there would be sweat if you’d seen him live, this track only goes to further highlight Sean Baker as a rising and incredible talent in the chiptune scene.
09. TheDutchess – The Private i
Sega Genesis chiptune, reeking of the 80s and melodically focused? And melodically focused it is, every single second is swarming in unforgettable motifs, as jabbing basslines, glittering leads and clinking counter-melodies build into layers of jazzfunkprogchip. If this doesn’t contain elements of live jazz-esque improvisation, then TheDutchess certainly does a fantastic job of emulating them. One of the strongest composed tracks on the compilation, or on any Chiptune = WIN compilation for that matter. MAG’s booking of this artist was an act of genius. Be sure to check him out before his popularity explodes, if not for support than for bragging rights at least.
10. RobotSexMusic – South Station Breakdown
The Andrew W.K of chip, Boston’s party-chip ambassador Peter Hegarty (aka RSM) is up to his ol’ cheeky tricks again. Inescapable beats, affecting melodies, diverse and powerful wav work, and a shed-load of dance-floor filling attitude, this is RobotSexMusic almost as it should be heard, lying somewhere between EDM, drum n bass and with the ever-so-slight tinges of unce. Another un-missable live act that somehow translates a live energy into the studio. All hail the party king.
11. Auxcide – Revelry
Resident artist at Pxl-Bot and 8static, been on more compilations than memory can serve and rose meteorically to popularity within the scene, and all since 2012. How? This track does a fairly good job of explaining. Auxcide’s ability to meld truly jaw-dropping, heart-rending melodies reeking of the astral has always been unparalleled, and mix that with a genuine ear for dance music and attention paid to audience reaction to music, Auxcide manages to craft another trip through musical space, leading you by hand, captivating as always. Words are pointless at this stage, if you’ve not listened to him before, partake and fall in love.
12. Kubbi – The Cairn
That bloody cat-loving Norwegian. Not content with being one of the most talented composers in the electronic music scene altogether, with the ability to seemingly pluck unendingly grandiose and emotive pieces from nowhere, whilst retaining generic sense in the fields of progressive rock, classical music and electronic dance simultaneously, the Scandinavian devil has decided that one country is not good enough to be graced with his presence. The very nerve. Now he’s off gallivanting to the New Frontier, seemingly hell-bent on world domination, bringing this predictably ingenious, poignant and stylistically diverse track with him. Makes me bloody sick it does.
And so that’s it! Whilst being one of the shortest Chiptune = WIN compilations to date, it is definitely also one of the most consistent and eclectic. If you missed out on all the MAG 12 fun here, I guess, is a small token to help you through the tough time. Or it’ll push you over the edge and you’ll cry for days. Good work Brandon, idiot.