VGFrequency: MAGFest Day 3 Report

Larry has finally gotten his Saturday report of MAGFest up posted on the VGF blog. It outlines the OCR panel, the Saturday concerts, and includes the creepiest picture of him ever with Elaine of Select Start.

After missing Day 2, I was definitely ready to get back on the horse for MAGFest. OC ReMix had its panel that day, so of course I represented my homebase. Along with djpretzel and myself, fellow judges zircon, pixietricks, Big Giant Circles and CHz were on board the panel presentation that day for an impressive show of staff power.

Rather than going through our traditional presentation for the
uninitiated, we were in front of a crowd where the major majority of
people were already familiar with OverClocked ReMix. This year, we
highlighted all the important developments at OCR for 2007, including Voices of the Lifestream, attending Video Games Live, the debut of the Content Policy, revising the Submission Standards and Instructions and developing translations of our most important information for several languages. OCR’s latest album project, Radical Dreamers: Thieves of Fate, released during MAGFest itself, was given a preview to the audience by director Brad “the prophet of mephisto” Burr, to an excellent reception.

Highlighting upcoming developments for 2008, we’ve got some great
stuff on the way. Our first live full orchestra arrangement from Wild ARMs is on the way, we’ve got our first mother-son ReMix collaboration as well from Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. djp
showed off his plans for swanky new composer pages that’ll show off a
lot more information about the men and women who inspire the
contributors to OCR, using Tim Follin
to give the people a look at how composers are laid out with more
information than ever; look for that to go live in the next few days.
We also pimped some AMVs including clips of some of the Voices of the Lifestream AMV contest (soon to be judged so that we can get those swanky prizes out there) as well as the Spittin’ Narcissism fanvid by Psycosis91. Plenty of good stuff to promote, not even taking into account our bread and butter of posting creative, free ReMixes.

After a huge dinner with the OCR meetup group, it was time for the
second and final night of concerts. Let’s go short and sweet: The
moshing this year was definitely toned down a great deal compared to
last year. Not that anyone was cracking down on it, there just wasn’t
nearly as much this year as last. Let’s not also forget props to NO CARRIER and noteNdo
for the NES-created visuals that adorned both nights of performances.
You’ve got to see it to believe it, they were a nostalgic acid trip.

Powerglove was excellent. They
always have an unbelievable amount of energy to their performances,
including some badass costumes. I personally hate the Power Rangers
theme, but when they played it for some brief non-VGM material, they
definitely got the crowd going. I would have loved to have seen Chris Marchiel’s Guitar Hero synth in play, but was perfectly glad “settling” for some awesome material from Metal Kombat for the Mortal Man, including Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s “So Sexy Robotnik“!

I was legitimately worried that Select Start, in their first MAGFest performance,
wouldn’t be as much of a draw with the crowd, who are used to rock and
metal VG cover bands acts, but the masses turned out in a big way. We
probably could have used some chairs during their set, since there was
no reason to stand up for the whole thing. They put on a really classy
performance. Frontman Austin Harley started off a little shaky with the
opening solo on one track, but regrouped with a joke and was off to the
races. The best part of the set had to be when the crowd exploded with
whooping and applause to the end of the first track, which visibly took
the entire sextet by surprise.

Elaine Li & Larry Oji @ MAGFest 6

When I talked to violinist Elaine Li after the set along with Big Giant Circles,
she confirmed that the group had never received that kind of reaction
ever before in their history of live performances, and that it was
great to be in an atmosphere where everyone already knows and respects
game music, making it so much easier to get immersed in the
performance. Indeed, hearing Metroid “Kraid’s Hideout”, Chrono Trigger “Theme of Frog’s” and Final Fantasy III “Eternal Wind” live was a big highlight. Along with Mustin and ktriton
joining in for one song, the crew did a great job with their first
MAGFest appearance, so hopefully they walked away already thinking
about how to return next year.

This Place is Haunted
played their final show with guitarist Michael Motorcycle, who’s
leaving the band to begin medical school. Who would have pegged him for
it? (We at VGF wish him the best of luck, to be sure.) The band’s set
was a lot more of a balance between VGM and other retro material (The
theme to Sanford and Son??? Let’s throw it on there!); I’ll admit I’m
partial to VGM and would have appreciated more…exclusivity on that
level. I mentioned to Shael Riley, who’s a big fan of the band, that This Place
just has some impeccable chops. Both Michael Motorcycle and Epileptic
Peat were playing some really involved runs and solos with just pro
precision; it was quite a sight to behold being so close to the stage.
Here’s hoping these bros regroup somehow so that they can keep putting
out quality material, especially because they spotlight tons of
otherwise obscure VGM to arrange.

Last but not least, the final band of the night was The Smash Bros. Running strong from their performance at the 2007 Final Fantasy XI Fan Festival, MAGFest’s house band took on a new flavor with ktriton replacing Shawn Phase
on drums and doing an amazing job; there was definitely a great amout
of synergy between him and the rest of the band. Before the set
started, we were all instructed to listen to the noise playing over the
speakers. A few of us thought it was rain SFX until a wonderful smell
wafted across the concert hall. In between tracks, Pappy and Joe Cam
were cooking bacon outside the hotel and feeding it to the crowd!
Enhancing the experience was a microphone brought over to the pig meat
so that the entire crowd could hear it sizzling. I was able to snag a
full-sized strip of bacon in the first wave of free pork before the
bros had to start cutting it up to offer it to everyone. Definitely a
hilarious bonus, the crowd chanted “Bacon! Bacon!” with ferocity with
every break. The eclectic VGM set of the Bros. (Ailsean, ktriton, Midee, norg, Prozax, Roy McClanahan & virt) included U.N. Squadron, Phoenix Wright, EarthBound and Contra 4
in easily the most diverse set of the festival. They need to record
their shows via the mixing boards at MAG and sell, sell, sell.

Anyone who doubts whether or not they should attend MAGFest would
become a believer if only to experience the greatness of even one night
of the concerts, and that’s only one night out of four days. I’ll be
back tomorrow to wrap up the rundown of my time at MAG.