Another year, another MAGFest. Ho-hum. Just a bunch of nerds together playing videogames in an overpriced hotel, I don’t get what’s so sp-
GUYS. I’M SO SORRY. Someone locked me in a basement and sent a robot clone to sabotage this article -all in an attempt to make you think that MAGFest SUCKS! DON’T LISTEN TO IT. MAGFEST IS BEST FEST! The person who is Adam Seats and is definitely probably not a robot clone is here once again to give you the rundown on all the great music you missed because you weren’t there/were there but were doing something else/were there but can’t remember because of REASONS.
There was so much music at MAGFest. I know it sounds dumb. It’s the Music and Gaming festival, of course there was music. But seriously, this year it seems like it was more heavily focused on music than in years past. Between more than 25 featured acts (not including special guests doing double time being guests as well as performing), three full days of curated chiptune concerts by us at Chipspace AND a brand new VGM-centric space called the MAG Underground put on by The Shizz, you could have gone the entire weekend just going to concerts with the odd hour or so to recharge your batteries (both literally and metaphorically – you gotta keep up on those Street Passes during the concert changeovers). I know, because I did. If by some stretch I wasn’t in a concert or succumbing to the need for sleep and sustenance of this weak flesh prison I ride around in and its need for sleep and sustenance, I was in the arcade wailing away on the rhythm games in the arcade.
While I’d love to regale you with stories of destroying my friends at Taiko Drum Master, there’s no video of that – but there IS video of the mainstage concerts, the curated chiptune showcases (sort of) and the Underground. Now, this IS a chiptune blog, so I’m going to keep the focus on highlighting the amazing chiptune artists that made it out. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you’ve got links to check everything out you might have missed.
Before I can even talk about Little Paw’s music, I need to express my reverence for SBThree’s visuals on this set. Between the actual super high quality rendering of Little Paw’s most recent album cover and the fact that much of the set was done IIIIIINNNNN THREEEEEE DEEEEEE, I’m just absolutely in awe. Back to Little Paw – we recently covered his latest album (and that article now contains an alternate cut of the video above!), but his set was so much more than just that. Nick brought the oldschool New York-style chiprock playing not only his solo music but some old Revengineers tracks as well. Honestly, you expect the opening act at a music festival to start getting you pumped for the show, but Little Paw and SBThree basically just started the show by cranking it up to 11. I hope you can go find some red/blue 3D glasses so you can get the full effect from the video above.
Whoa! Hey, speaking of someone else we just recently mentioned on the blog…ap0c showed up to completely rock the house with Kev Ragone on drums. You’d never think listening to his music that Steve’s dayjob often involves him playing with a polka ensemble, but it’s true! It’s so great seeing ap0c live, not just because I like to talk about Steve’s work quite a bit, but also because you really get the fuller versions of his songs when he’s rocking that tuba. Steve also gets points for being probably the only person in the history of ever to do a gnarly walk-off-the-stage-into-the-crowd with a tuba. You can’t hear it super well in the video due to the tuba being rather far from a mic, but it LOOKS rad which is what really counts.
Now here’s someone I never thought I’d get to see live.
– coda’s set was a great mix of original music with videogame remixes blended in. When you’re doing live chiptunes, you’ve basically got two ways to do it. Either you DJ your music, which you’ve already got ready on your computer, or you’ve got some sort of live performance aspect to it – alternate instrumentation or other people helping you out in some way, just as a couple of examples. While most acts fall into the latter version, coda’s set was of the former. Some folks aren’t fans of the approach, but when you plan a set like that, you can make sure your mix is tight, your music is perfect and you don’t have to worry about human error killing things midway through the set. Also, I’m not sure if this was a joke or not, but as the set goes on, coda just put on progressively more and more sets of headphones around his neck. I legitimately don’t know if this is a satire of DJs or if they were actually hooked up wirelessly or something, but going back and watching this I was crying laughing. It’s honestly a fantastic set.
Rekcahdam, always out there to show up everyone else. There had to be someone that got proposed to this year, so it might as well be him, right? Seriously though, if there’s two things you can expect from a Rekcahdam set, it’s solid beats and a complete lack of taking things seriously. I feel like the most interesting thing about Roger’s sets is the fact that he always puts himself in the background – I mean, of course, he’s the drummer, but while Roger goes and sets everything else up, he usually just has a bunch of his friends up on stage in front. He’s like the Carlos Santana of chiptunes – if Santana played drums and rapped about making fried chicken and being the greatest. Once again, mazel tov to Roger, and I sincerely hope that this video gets played at his wedding.
I Fight Dragons? At MAGFest? But they’re, like, mainstream? Seriously though, I think these are the most widely known performers outside of strictly nerd circles to come to a MAGFest aside from composer guests. They’re also completely unlike anyone else performing this year – you’ve got all this EDM and game remix-y stuff and then out of nowhere you’ve got these late 90’s/early 00’s almost pop punk rockers with bleeps and bloops? It’s honestly a little surreal. But I’m really glad that MAGFest has started moving ever so slightly outside of the same sounding folks for their guest – trust me, I love videogame metal as much or more than the next guy, but having some variety keeps things fresh.
And then there was The Chiprave. The culmination of everyone’s efforts – the big shebang, a boss rush concert of some of the greatest folks to tune a chip one right after another – Note! from New York, boaconstructor from Seattle, Shirobon and chipzel from the UK and Kubbi from Norway. This concert had so many things packed into it that some of them have been lost to time. Things like Note!’s cover of Running in the 90’s, or how everyone from back stage kept peeking out from behind the speakers at the wings of the stage hoping no one could see them as they gazed upon an entirely packed concert hall, or the outcome of the complete rando that got up on stage during Shirobon’s set and started flinging water everywhere (#fuckthewaterguy). Honestly, this was a really well balanced set, starting with Note!’s high energy dance music followed by boaconstructor’s minimalist nanoloop stylings (and proof that no concert that involves a Game Boy can ever go by without something going wrong with the batteries). Shirobon came out to melt everyone’s faces, chipzel going everywhere from her calmer game music to some of her harder hits, and ending the night with Kubbi & friends’ downtempo jams to get everyone ready for bed. Honestly, aside from Running in the 90’s disappearing into the ether, this was one of the best captured concerts at the event, so if you don’t have time to watch anything else, please do yourself a favor and sit down for this.
In addition to the mainstage concerts, ChipWIN had curated side shows as well as free-jams over at Chipspace. The whole shebang was recorded by the kind folks at Clipstream, but unfortunately they haven’t had a chance to sort through everything and get the curated concerts uploaded. You can always go to their Twitch channel here, but it doesn’t look like the archived stream is up anymore so unfortunately unless they upload something, Chipspace will just have to live on in our hearts…until next year! MAGFest’s YouTube channel was kind enough to post up Ben Briggs’ set from Day 0 though, so all is not lost. Ben’s set is a pretty effective microcosm of MAGFest’s music scene in general this year – lots of really high quality original content that gets the crowd riled up and at least one Undertale remix.
What’s this? A secret greatest hits show for VGM acts organized by one of the longest running fangroups associated with MAGFest? Yeah, I’ll take it. Much as we were granted a chunk of space and resources and told to fend for ourselves, so too were The Shizz granted a room and given free reign to call back some of the best VGM acts ever to grace the stage. Due to streaming this on the same internet as all the guests were using, video quality gets a little choppy in places, and Marshall Art’s set is unfortunately lost to the ether forever, everyone else has been captured and uploaded thanks to 8bitX and MAGFest attendee Chris Weglein. You can look at the event page for all the links to the videos and artists who performed. If you like what you see, be sure to tell MAGFest about it! The only way events like this stay alive is by people loving them, so show your love!
Once again, a big thank you to all involved – to Hoodie and Emily Feder for securing the acts, to the performers who came, to the security staff that made sure everything went smoothly, the folks at Mediatron who recorded the sets (and dealt with technical mishaps swiftly when they reared their ugly heads), and the fine folks who run MAGFest and make sure we can come back every year and get obliterated with our friends while listening to the best music. I’ve included links to all the chiptune artists that performed this year, as well as all the visualists and the groups who helped organize the various curated events in case you want to know more about who keeps these things going.
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MAGFest is a donut. <– DAMMIT SEATS L;KADSJF0982345J’SDF