Chipfest 2008 Recap

For those not in the know [people outside of Washington, really], there was a grand chiptune festival in Seattle the night of April 12th, well, it wasn’t too grand [lol, 30-40 people at the most?], but I did have a shitload of fun. Read on for the COMPLETE PACKAGE!

That’s pretty much the lineup there, minus Spamtron, Square Wail, and 486.

On my way there I almost missed it completely. Then I realized, “oh, holy shit, Chipfest is THAT MOTORCYCLE GARAGE RIGHT THERE!” Or, more accurately, the part of the garage that somebody lives in. Full of random doodads, pieces of art, some furniture, and old machinery that gave the whole place a very homely intimate atmosphere. Not that it mattered, most of the people were drinking and smoking away outside, and it was actually pretty warm so the garage door stayed open and we let the music blast its way outside. I only knew one artist really, MC Firedrill, but I had never met him or really listened to his music before Chipfest. I found him somehow and we talked a bit before the show, about his netlabel releases, particularly on 20kbps Recordings [see my Free Shit columns!]. I talked to some more people, like Kinoko [who is a pretty fun person!], dissed Spamtron a bit for not being able to come :3 and then the show commenced.

Fighter X started things off with some nice technical chips, and had a cool gameboy+kaoss pad+some other step sequencer thing setup. He played a few songs where the sequencer was the main focus, then moved on to pure gameboy for the last two or three songs, which were pretty great!

A short setup time and Rainbow Pawz came up next, a collaborative act between MC Firedrill and Kinoko, plus 2 laptops and some children’s toys, even, playing incredibly whacked out hardcore glitch techno. Kinoko gets crazier and crazier throughout the set, eventually leaving the table to get an apple, but instead chomps on her toy Casio keyboard instead. Eventually, Kinoko just interrupts everything by loading Alex the Allegator 4, which I guess was ok because the music was cute.

After some Alex the Allegator came Syphilis Sauna, who I conversed with quite a bit after the show. He abruptly interrupts the Alex 4 shenanigans with a wall of noise that overpowered even the tiniest subconscious thought, then went into a really fucked up remix of the Mario Bros. Underground music [see ‘i love italians’ on his myspace page], followed by more extremely dark and even more fucked up squarewave glitch, throwing in a phat twostep beat for a bit. I forget how it ended because it was so strange, but I think Kids Get Hit by Buses was next.

Kids Get Hit by Buses was… I dunno. It was the low point of the evening for me. I’m not a huge fan of the style, though they seemed to get the most riled crowd of the night, and the most people inside. Their music is kind of Mindless Self Indulgence-ey, which is probably what they were going for, and that’s probably why I didn’t like it lol.

Up next was Kinoko all by her lonesome, which was not OK with her apparently, as she eventually left the laptop running and started dancing with everyone. Same kind of crazy chipglitch as with Rainbow Pawz.

We all had a short break, where I talked with a fine gentleman named “Jeff” I think, who may or may not be reading this as I pimped ThaSauce to him [hell yeah reppin’ thasauce!].

Duke Midnight was next. Duke is a man with a gameboy, a guitar, and a Phil Collins. His set was mostly gameboy and some screaming, and during one of the songs, we all found a partner and slow-danced. And yeah, I slow-danced. With a GIRL! [Call me, Teresa! IF THAT IS YOUR REAL NAME!!!].

MC Firedrill was the coup de grĂ¢ce of the night, with a lively and melodic chipglitch set that ended with him and his girlfriend singing a romantic duet, a cover of some pop song sung by japanese porn stars. A fitting end to a delightfully odd night that I will NEVAR FORGET.

It sadly had to end, but I got to talk to some interesting people, make a few new friends, and experience a truly unique thing. I saw the PLAY! concert just a couple months earlier, and this totally kicked its ass, even though they are almost two different things! It wasn’t quite at the MAGFest concert level, but it’s probably the best chiptune party you can have on the West Coast. This was the first annual Chipfest, which means there is probably going to be another one next year! I will definitely be looking forward to that! Or possibly playing in it? Seeing all these live bands play lately has made me want to try doing live stuff. We’ll see how that goes. I was really looking forward to seeing Spamtron play though. Maybe another time!