May 21, 2011 4:00 PM | Matthew Hawkins
The second evening of Blip Festival 2011 was the second punch of what is looking to be yet another amazing three-hit combo that the finest in chiptunes has been delivering to NYC’s gut for five years now.
And of course, I showed up late, even more so than the previous night. Hence why two acts were missed this time; NNNNNNNNNN, the lone Japanese artist of this year's installment, and Tristan Perich, NYC's resident 1-bit musician. Thankfully I arrived just in time to witness another moment of Blip history, as demoscene legend 4mat performed live for the first time ever. His set tore the house down, leaving the crowd demanding more -- which led to Matt Simmonds to exclaim, "But that's it! I only have my Blip set on this computer!" Yet the excuse was not good enough, so to make everyone happy, he simply played another song again, leaving the crowd satisfied and Simmonds bewildered. "I can't just play another song again..."
It's at this point that I feel the need to mention the crowd: simply awesome. Both last night, and the evening before, there was this undeniable sense of positivity that could be felt in every corner of Eyebeams, Blip's venue this year. Not to be a hater, but I'm not the only one who was somewhat put off by the at times weird vibes at the past couple of Blips in Brooklyn. Though any complaints on my end have usually been immediately dismissed as the bitching of a whiny and pampered Manhattanite. Still, all the music and the people has been enough to put smiles even on the faces of the event's security! It also helps that the crowd as a whole has been super well-behaved: crowd surfing has been at a completely tolerable level, moshing has broken out when it's actually applicable, and overall one gets the sense that the kids this year know what they're doing when it comes to ingesting stimulating substances.
But back to the music, and to moshing; the brilliance of the event's programming was in full effect with whomever decided to slot Thousand Free Men & Their Families immediately after 4mat. Not only did his mixture of hardcore screaming and rapping, accentuated by Game Boy beeps and boops, drive the crowd into a frenzy, the jokes in-between had everyone rolling. It's just as 2 Player Production's (who again was on-hand to film the spectacle, as they do every year) Asif Siddiky said, "After five years, I'm so happy we finally have this piece of the puzzle."
The first of two other highlights from last night was the (as expected) pulse-pounding/booty shaking set from one of Blip's chief architects, as well as NYC's bustling 8bit music scene as a whole, Bit Shifter. Sadly he only teased the audience with a portion of a slowed down version of "the Freebird of chiptunes", aka Reformat The Planet. Which I would imagine he's totally sick of playing at this point! Actually, if memory serves me right, the entire updated and enhanced version that he performed at the DVD launch party of the chiptunes documentary that it's named after was the last time he had ever played it live. At any rate, the rest of his set more than made up for things, along with the ultra sexy visuals (mostly sexy dominatrix types, all bathed in blue).
Yet it was the second highlight that might have stolen the entire show: cTrix, yet another Aussie (10K was the first), blew away everyone's minds and ear drums away with an unholy 8bit audio producing instrument that he dubbed the "gatari". The body is made of an old school Atari 2600, and the neck various joysticks plus touchpad synthesizers. It has to be both seen and heard to be believed...
Tonight is the final night, and the line-up includes one of the hottest acts going in chip these days, Starscream; the Blip solo debut of Luke Silas, aka Knife City, who's otherwise known as the drummer of Anamanaguchi; and one of the most respected and beloved individuals in the chip movement today Nullsleep. Again, if you can't be there in person, there's ways to enjoy from afar; refer to the official Blip Festival website for details.