Continuing with the collection of surreal experiences that I’ve been experiencing lately, I decided at the last minute earlier this week to stay in the city a few days longer than planned and attend Blip Festival number five at Eyebeam. First of all, that was the best decision I’ve made all week, if not all semester. For those who don’t know, Blipfest is a three-day music festival/social hub for the New York City chiptune scene (chiptunes, of course, being musics created using hacked video game hardware from the 80s and 90s). There are a ton of bands who play, some of which are relatively popular for this niche genre, and some of whom are just getting their start. Regardless, there’s lots of awesome chip music to be heard.
So I got there on Thursday evening knowing one person there, and feeling a little awkward. I knew that a lot of the designers, gif-makers, developers, and musicians who I follow on Twitter and Tumblr were going to be in attendance, and I planned on introducing myself to as many as possible and making some contacts. That didn’t really happen on Thursday nights, because I really didn’t know a single person there after my friend left.
I did say hi to the guys from Anamanaguchi though. They played an incredible set, providing what was without a doubt one of the most fun performances I’ve seen in my short life. The crowd was crazy, to say the least (a guy was crowd surfing during Anamana’s soundcheck) and no one was dancing so much as pushing people around and attempting to support the hailstorm of stagedivers.
Anamanaguchi really owned the night on Thursday, as they were effectively the headliner and also awesome, but there were a few lesser-known acts that I’m very happy to have caught. Specifically, minusbaby came out with a many-piece acoustic ensemble including a baritone brass of some type that actually proceeded to rock really hard. Talk to Animals, as well, was the first act of the show to really get the crowd going; she walked down into the audience and jumped around with them while singing, her Gameboy pulsing out beats from the stage.
Night one was awesome, I got a lot of free stickers and saw a rad Anamanaguchi set. I didn’t really meet anyone, though, and last night I was determined to change that. I talked with Diego “Radstronomical” Garcia on Twitter and we arranged a meeting, which was thankfully a huge amount less awkward than I feared it might be. He turned out to be awesome and to know or know of a lot of the same people I’d wanted to meet, so it worked out nicely. Included among those people were (by Twitter handle) DeMarko, who was sporting the “I’m Fat, Let’s Party” Seibei shirt; JimmyRepeat, one third of MisterGif who bought me most of my beer and insisted on calling me a nickname that I don’t want to mention for fear it might catch on (you can find it on Twitter if you really want to know); DoodlesAndGifs, another one third of MisterGif, who was an incredibly friendly dude, and, lulinternet, who I met briefly with Diego and stared at dumbly for a few moments, apparently in awe of her internet fame or something. Also Liz (as in My Life as Liz) was there, as well as Pete from Anamanaguchi. So I’d say mission accomplished as far as meeting people goes.
As for the night two music, I didn’t know any of the acts before the show, but I now have a lot to check out. Pretty much every act last night was worth checking out again, in my opinion. The opener was NNNNNNNNNN, this young dude from Japan who made surprisingly rocking dance music. Tristan Perich, the creator of the One-Bit Symphony, also performed a piece for harpsichord and one-bit electronics, which was likely the most conceptually-driven piece that that festival will see this year (nonetheless incredibly rad). Ten Thousand Free Men and Their Families was also an interesting shift of genre for the festival; he’s a one-man 8-bit punk/hardcore band. His set was very raw.
I spent a lot of the other sets talking and meeting people, but I didn’t miss the opportunity to dance around like a fool during the BitShifter set. The guy absolutely killed it. He made some absolutely incredible 8-bit dance music that I feel like I’d actually be able to listen to outside of a live setting, which is rare for dance music. It was forty minutes of sweaty nerd in the front of the stage, with people constantly crowdsurfing up onto the stage to dance around for a few moments. Total mindless insanity in the first few rows. But so much fun. Also, I stayed for most of the cTrix set, which was also unbelievably cool. He debuted a new instrument that looked like a guitar body with a video game console and a bunch of stompboxes glued on, which worked after a few minutes of tinkering and actually sounded awesome.
I’m a bit (hah) disappointed that I won’t be able to make it to night three, but I don’t see it as a missed opportunity. This was an incredible experience. I’m totally going back next year.