Thursday, 9 April 2009

Chipped Tunes, or There Are Eight Bits to This Evening

Last night I headed up to Seattle to meet up with @gendlec and my brother to see a performance by a whole bunch of 8-Bit chiptune musicians.

The show was at the Vera Project on the back side corner of the Seattle Center. It is a strange little place—a youth center for and run by youth (of all people). It has a rather large-ish room with a stage in it. Strangely, this is not where the show happened. The musicians set up on tables out in the lobby area. The sound system in there was less than stellar, and the sound board looked to be run by a 15- or 16-year-old, so there were often problems with the volume levels and sound mixing.

1st up: FIGHTER X (MySpace)

Fighter X is an instrumentalist – no singing. Good stuff, though his live set tended to be a bit more dance-oriented than his recorded stuff, or maybe that’s just the way it came off on big speakers. He had a couple of Gameboys and a handful of other electronics equipment. He got really into the performance. He reminded me of a younger, red-headed “Piz” from Veronica Mars.

2nd up: LEENI (Website, MySpace)

Leeni performingLeeni is the real reason why I went to this show. I’ve been a fan of her music for about a year but had never gotten to see her live. She played a good set that was unfortunately plagued by technical difficulties—her vocal mic kept on getting feedback, a cable started dying, and the sound mix was less than stellar. She seemed pretty frustrated with it by the end, which was too bad. I still enjoyed her performance, though, and so did @gendlec. Plus she’s adorable! Like a tiny version of Missy Peregrym (from Reaper and Stick It) with pink hair. I bought her new CD, Labyrinth, which I like quite a lot. It’s creepier than her previous album.

3rd up: KGHB (KIDS GET HIT BY BUSES) (MySpace)

5099204These guys were frikkin’ hilarious. They dressed in matching red/white/silver, skin-tight outfits. They were all bravado and fearless energy. Their core was chiptune music, but they also had a vocoder synth, and the 2nd guy had two strap-on synthesizers that he kept on switching between, sometimes several times per song. He would often spend more time switching synths than he would playing them, which was very funny. They also had props! The lead singer put on goggles for no reason at one point. They had print-outs of some dude’s face that they wore on their hands and heads and performed a dance routine with. The crowd seemed most familiar with their songs and got into it. @gendlec recorded video of a couple of songs, so I’m gonna see about getting them from her and posting them here sometime soon. After their set they didn’t have a CD for sale, so we asked them what their MySpace was and they gave us some free buttons!

4th up: CIRCLES (MySpace)

Circles was one guy with a chiptune setup but also with an electric guitar. He impressed me least of all of them, though there was nothing at all bad about his performance or music. He did end the night with a Blink 182 cover, which was… an unfortunate thing to do. He seemed the most “mainstream” of them all. Plus we were pretty tired by this time.

Then we went to our separate homes.

Anyway, all of these artists are part of CrunchyCo, specifically Crunchy Records, which is a local group of chiptune musicians.

Some notes about the Youth of American as seen from our vantage point during the show: all boys are now wearing super-skinny, tapered jeans and their haircuts cover their ears. I don’t think I saw a single pair of ears on any of the men at this show. Their haircuts were either like Zac Efron or like Ryan Hansen (Dick Casablancas from Veronica Mars).

Here is a fascinating coincidence: The guy who animated one of Leeni’s videos (the one I posted here last week) and drew the album cover for one of Fighter X’s albums? Turns out that he’s none other than @GoshaDole , my good pal @elgaladwen’s boyfriend! I never knew that! Pretty awexeome, if you ask me.

Categories: Concerts/Shows, Life, Links, Music, Pictures.

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