Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blip '09 Writeup #3 (The J. Arthur Keenes Band, Trash Can Man, Bubblyfish, The Hunters, Glomag, Bit Shifter, David Sugar, Psilodump)

Gooooooood morning (yes it is almost 12:30PM as I begin writing this)! What a weekend Blip has been. I've got one last show I'm going to today at 4PM, and then it's all over! So many chiptunes. It's been absolutely fantastic, I got to meet a lot of excellent folks and listen to some ridiculously jamming tunes. Okay, here's your writeup!

J.A.K. was one of my most anticipated shows of these three days. I don't know what it is about his songwriting, but I just love it. Like the previous night, it took him no time at all to get the crowd jumping and moving. His Game Boys supplied ample bass and percussion, covered with his top-notch vocals, guitar, and melodica, which I had never seen played live before. It's got the sound of a harmonica, but it's played like a piano (except you have to blow into it)! Very interesting, but it went great over the more chilled-out portions and grooves of his set. He has a sweet variety of reggae, ska, and rock feels to his tracks, and it had the crowd hooked, singing along, and happy. Superb!

Next, Trash Can Man played what I want to call chip-grunge, but won't (I didn't, see?) because I'm not sure the consequences I'll be bringing upon myself if that's inaccurate. At any rate, he opened with a cover of a song called "Emancipation" according to Twitter posts, and by my best guess it's by a guy named Ihsahn, frontman to a black metal band named Emperor. The crowd was screaming along, and I have to admit I felt pretty awkward that I didn't know the lyrics myself! Haha, anyway, it was a pretty rad set, and TCM made a few new fans judging from what I read. I'll have to feature a track by him soon so you guys get an idea for what he was like.

Bubblyfish followed, opening with a cover of Sleigh Bells that was much louder, tougher, and cooler than it ought to have been. Her set was a lot of fun, and she had some really crazy tunes that sounded folksy or country or something. Like the music that plays when a horse is walking in a cartoon. But then she'd break out of that into really thick beats, as powerful as anything played that night. It was really interesting, but a lot of fun. It was also the last set that I stuck to the front of the stage, at that point I was really feeling the effects of having partied and walked for miles for two and a half days straight with less than optimum amounts of sleep. It was an awesome set, though, and I'd love to see Bubblyfish play again!

The Hunters came up next, playing a really chilled out tune before unleashing their more hopping tracks. They also supplied their own visuals, which were much smoother than the hyper glitched stylings of the VJs (The C-Men, Paris, Outpt, Enso, Vblank, NO CARRIER, and Rosa Menkman, all of whom were just incredible and mind-blowing). They had that thick, bassy Game Boy sound that drives people nuts, and it looked like a great response from where I was standing during their set!

Glomag followed, getting the crowd going ballistic to his heavy, fast beats and rock and roll guitar playing. A New York favorite, Glomag's set had everyone going nuts, quite a feat when you consider what most participants had been through the past few days. For one of his tracks he had one of the C-Men (who were VJing his set at the time) come up on stage to sing some vocoded lyrics, and chiptune-writer-guy Natty Adams to rap, which went over most excellently as you can probably imagine.

Then Bit Shifter! The Blip Festival was nearing its end, and it was apparent by the awesome acts they had "saved for last". Bit Shifter had the crowd going wild, yes I'm aware that EVERY ACT seemed to be doing that last night, but it's the truth! The chiptune scene only gets one Blip Festival every year, we make it count! So he's playing, people are loving the Information Chase tracks, Reformat The Planet went over exceptionally well, maybe the biggest cheer all three nights for a song coming on. But at the end of his set, once we all thought that he was about to leave the stage, he announced that while he had been feeling sick and for that reason didn't sing any songs like he had wanted to, he was going to sing his very last track, which was the cover of a Misfits song called (excuse me here) "AngelFuck". He invited everyone who wanted to up on stage, and closed his set out as powerfully as you might expect from Bit Shifter.

David Sugar played next, sometimes singing, sometimes playing guitar, but always using the Game Boy and dancing around to his tracks. He's been away from the chiptune scene for some time now, saying that it had been probably close to a year since he'd played any chiptune shows. But being invited to Blip had gotten him excited over chiptunes once more, and he played us a track that he wrote just for Blip. It was a good song, and the crowd ate it up! I'm not as familiar with David Sugar as I think I ought to be, so I think this week I'll have to spend some time getting to know his music better.

And, after three very full concerts even without him, it was time to squeeze one more act into the agenda, and Psilodump took the stage. He played absolute bangers. His act had superb visuals by Paris and The C-Men, in my opinion the best of all three nights (though Minusbaby's was a very close second). His sound was very professional sounding, with spot-on levels and mixing, and tight crossfading between tracks so as to not let the crowd down for even a second. It was intense, and seemed to last much longer than it actually did. To put it shortly, it was the perfect set to close out Blip '09!

And that's how the show went down. Once I got outside, there was a ton of snow on the ground and I got to shuffle back to my hotel in the wind and the cold. Sigh. Such is the dichotomy of life, an equal and opposite reaction for every action. But I cheated this fate, that seemed to be punishing New York for having too much fun, by getting a delicious sandwich on my way home, and having a great night's sleep. Can't beat me, snow! I'm from MICHIGAN!!


  1. 1. You missed the afterparty! trash80 FTW.

    2. Sorry I'm missing the 4 PM show; madness ensued. Nice to finally meet you; come again soon!


  2. I Missed Everything *cries*
    Would have loved to see J.A.K. live...

  3. Hi there!
    I opened with a Misfits track called "Hollywood Babylon".

    tRasH cAn maN

  4. Ouch, my credibility! Sorry about the mixup, TCM. You did put on quite a show, even if I wasn't exactly familiar with all the covers I ought to have recognized!