Saturday, December 19, 2009

Blip '09 Writeup #2 (Disasterpeace, Starscream, Fighter X, Little Scale, I, Cactus, Nullsleep, Rainbowdragoneyes, Patric C, Hally, CONDOM)

First off, this is the longest concert I've ever been to. I suppose that's why it's legitimate to call Blip a festival rather than, say, a "concert series" or something like that. These are not concerts every night, they are tests of party endurance!! Okay, so going right in order...

Disasterpeace, of whom I'm a big fan, was up first. He had his whole set queued up on the software side of things, and played his guitar along with. It seemed as if some residue energy was still in the crowd from last night, since there wasn't that two or three set buffer between concert starting and crowd starting like there was Thursday. Although his music isn't the best for headbanging, jumping around, and crowd surfing, it was apparent people were into the math-rock compositions, crazy time signatures, and powerful (not to be confused with power) chords. It was quite the set, and same as yesterday's performance by Silreq, a great kickoff for the night.

Starscream was up next, and Damon and George made quick work of getting the crowd frenzied. I was glad to hear some new tracks by them, and everyone around was enjoying the flowing music over the hard drums. I was also surprised to see Damon, who for so long reminded me of a long-haired friend of mine named Justice, had cut most of his hair off. Anyway, the music was great, Starscream is another one of those bands I was extra excited to see perform, and they did not disappoint.

Fighter X came up next, the party-hard collaboration between the original Fighter X and Circles (there's a post about it not too long ago). They played their "unce", as people have come to call it, and it really got the crowd moving. I think at one point they were both in the crowd (by which of course I mean ON the crowd), but I'm not sure. Plenty of people were floating atop the audience last night. During Fighter X's set was when I started realizing how tired I was feeling. Combining the drastic increase in exercise I'd been getting (walking around NYC and rocking out to the entirety of a 6-hour concert all day and the day before) with the toll the loudspeakers were taking on my ears and the fact that my vodka tonics' (drink of choice, people) "influence" let's say was fading, yeah. I was getting pretty exhausted. I wasn't sure what would happen if another Fighter X show happened, but next up was Little-Scale, and what I've heard of him is generally not that up-tempo or ridiculous. I thought I was safe!

Little-Scale's set opened with A vs. B, a track some people might call a "joke track". The version consists of two notes, identical in pitch but with some sort of duty cycle shift or filter cutoff automation or something, resulting in subtly different timbres from start to finish. It's only a few seconds long, and it inspired a few "reimaginings" or "remixes" in the days after its being uploaded to 8bc. So those notes played, and I thought he'd bow and the crowd would have a laugh, but instead the song just exploded into a very hard beat coupled with some fast-paced melodies. He continued in this way pretty much his entire set, taking the occasional break to play some tracks with a down-tempo feel while the crowd caught its collective breath and cheered. It was a great set, and by the time it was over I'd forgotten I was supposed to be tired!

I, Cactus followed Little-Scale's set, playing from his laptop. His music was the least "chiptune" set of these last two nights, with plenty of pop music culture weaved in with his tracks. He had a sort of remix of Britney Spears, Eminem, and Nine Inch Nails I think, all mashed together to make bizarre but coherent sentences. He looked like he was enjoying his set as much as anyone in the crowd, laughing at the stranger sequencing of words (Eminem's "Hi, my name is..." with a myriad other goofy things following it) and getting thoroughly sweaty dancing around the stage.

Nullsleep came on stage to no small amount of applause, and since he's one of the biggest names in Chiptunes it should be no surprise. Playing off a couple Game Boys, his set was way harder, noisier, and devoid of melodies than I had been planning on. Great party music to be sure, and the crowd knew this all too well, but just... Not what I'd expected. Talking with Ethan after the set, he agreed with my take on it, mentioning that Nullsleep's seemed to have abandoned rich, melodic tracks in preference of more up-tempo, crowd-stirring dance tracks, leaving him feeling personally betrayed! I could hear where he was coming from, since I would have loved a slower set for multiple reasons, but what was done was done, and Nullsleep's approach seems to be working out just fine for him!

Rainbowdragoneyes was the second-to last, and what a crazy show that was. I discovered later that RDE actually works in the recording industry, working with all sorts of metal artists professionally. As such, his stage presence was very death-metal, with him flinging his hair around, screaming into a microphone, and turning off all the stage lights. It was a crazy set with a unique style (though I suspect seeing other metal-chiptune artists like Nestrogen or Norrin Radd would be a similarly intense spectacle).

Closing out the night, or at least the part of the night to which anyone with $15 bucks was allowed, was Patric C. He was just awesome. The most "old-school" artist in attendance, Patric C. chided the scene for forgetting about its roots in the demo scene, and expressed some frustration with the iTunes age of music distribution, in which the fringe, self-produced independent tracks, the likes of which have created the entire chiptune culture, have no chance of thriving. His set was invariably intense, getting the crowd moving in no time despite the fact that if they felt anything like I did we were all one minute of silence away from falling asleep.

After Patric C. had finished off Blip night #2 proper, Hally and CONDOM were scheduled to make an appearance. It was around 1:30 when P.C. got off the stage, but it wasn't until 2:00 or so that Hally finally began his set, and I moved toward the stage in a zombie-like state that evaporated as soon as his double NES setup started assaulting us with its rich beats and smooth moving lines. I just have to say that Hally was probably the coolest performer, playing his set in a track jacket and slowly donning his trademark sunglasses right before the initiation of his sonic barrage. The crowd was utterly insane, especially considering how late it was, but that wasn't even the half of it!

By the time CONDOM came on, Covox and Random had been getting their set put together and everything connected for almost an hour. 3:30 AM was when the ambient, flowing dissonance of their opening track started, building into a raging sea of noise, at which point they walked on stage, completely in black. They stood motionless for a full minute, then put their hand to their ear at a musical cue. Another moment later, and they flipped a switch, illuminating two point-sized LEDs where eyes would be. Their set consisted of a few spoken pieces - half jargon half euphemism about condoms - in between all of their tracks. After the show, I ended up meeting a couple guys from Blip waiting for a subway, Kris Keyser and Ricardo Almonte (and one of Kris' friends whose name I didn't catch). Kris summed up the CONDOM show pretty well when he mentioned "they out-Justiced Justice". I think it's safe to say that with music the likes of which Covox/Random was blasting, you could sell out some pretty large venues. It was absolutely insane, and my favorite set of this festival so far.

So, another night of Blip come and gone! Last night, with the exclusive afterparty show, ended up being something like 9 hours long. I showed up at quarter to 8 and got back at quarter to 5. What a night.

So, tonight! The J. Arthur Keenes Band, Glomag, Bit Shifter, and more! It's gonna be a blast!!


  1. Gosh! I'm gonna have to be more careful what I say around if it's gonna show up here! When I said I felt like Nullsleep betrayed me personally, I was mostly being facetious. Obviously Nullsleep doesn't give a fuck about me personally.

    I think my preference for rich melody and hyper-pop is well-known through the chip scene. My favorites of Nullsleep's are (e.g.) Valentine Final, Fearless Flight, some people really like Her Lazer Light Eyes. I like to dance too -- I swear -- but I prefer my unce to have more melody. Nullsleep's set was (to my ears) just noise, very hard-hitting DnB style, and I really don't enjoy that. The crowd got moving, and they sure were vocal, so I guess everyone else seems to be enjoying it fine.


  2. Well hey! Didn't expect to be quoted on here either (though I do stand by what I said). It was really cool meeting you guys. The "other friend" in question was probably my twin brother (bearded guy, a little bigger than me?) Anyway.
    That CONDOM set was unreal. Absolutely unreal. They say it's a one-time thing, but part of me really hopes it happens again. CONDOM could hypothetically make some serious waves both inside and outside the chipscene if they keep playing live.
    Anyway, hope you guys are doing well - many people, myself included, are feeling the Post-Blip sickness that seems to pop up every year. Stay cool, hope to see you next year!