May 22, 2011 8:00 PM | Matthew Hawkins
The final evening of Blip Festival 2011 had a lot to live up to, not just in terms of the overall pedigree of the event (the last night is always the most rocking), but because the previous two had done such amazing job of setting the bar. But as expected, it was a conclusion most worthy and epic.
Whereas I was late the prior two nights, I made damn sure to be there for the very first Game Boy start-up chime to bounce off the walls. I was really looking forward to Michigan based Noisewaves, whose Magfest performance from earlier this year garnered them rave reviews. And accentuating the soundscape were some delightful imagery courtesy of Party Time! Hexcellent! (see above). Unfortunately, their set was marred by technical issues, with a NES that just kept crapping out. I felt especially bad for them once I got wind that they had taken advantage of Kickstarter to help fund their way to NYC.
Thankfully, that was the only major hitch to an otherwise flawless final night of Blip. Again, the impeccable sensibilities of the event's organizers were brilliantly illustrated; one act would build the crowd up via powerful, soulful crescendos -- Starscream's roller-coaster of a set is a perfect example -- to the point that many could not contain themselves, and the act right after would unleash that energy, much like Knife City's non-stop party. The latter's visuals were particularly impressive as well. It was further proof that chiptunes is best experienced live; it's not just something you listen to, but a spectacle that you witness and take part in, alongside other sweaty people.
It was also a night that saw the NYC folks get much of the spotlight, and absolutely no one paid any mind. I was especially happy to finally see the drummer from Anamanaguchi play solo at long last, along with Peter Swimm -- who's better known as the man who runs the web's best resource for daily chip oriented news True Chip Till Death, and mase his long-awaited Blip debut. Now, if only the powers that be could finally get both George Michael Brower and Jonathan Baken together for a performance for just once, then Blip can officially say that they've had ever single chiptune great to grace their stage (alas, the former of the two-man duo recently left NY for SF).
Speaking of notable talent that weren't on stage this time around, it was a veritable who's who of the 8bit music scene in the audience, all mingling about and having a good old time (I found myself shooting the sh*t with Glomag for the most part). It was also a chance for tomorrow's stars to be inspired, along with a chance for both parties to pick up some tools of the trade. In the back corner you had a set-up shared by Nonfinite Electronics and Greightbit; the former is the number one supplier of LSDJ carts for the entire chiptune scene, and the latter is a veritable genius when it comes to Game Boy modifications. Some conservative, others totally outlandish, yet still completely functional. Like this external pitch kit made out of a Legend of Zelda breath mint tin...
The one person that everyone had to get up front for was, of course, the unholy destructor of zeroes and ones himself, Nullsleep. Jeremiah told me on Thursday night that he had something special in store, via his visuals, to commemorate that moment in time... that being Judgment Day, the Rapture. No doubt religious nuts across the globe were disappointed that day, but mostly for not being in the capacity packed venue, where everyone experienced a baptism of another sort. Apologies for not doing the best job of actually describing Nullsleep's music, if you can call it that. It's a harsh collision of sonic deconstruction and transfiguration that, as I've stated already in my previous reports, really needs to be experienced first-hand to be fully comprehended. As for the visuals, it was layered with all manner of hidden messages and the like that I tried my best to decipher, which was rather tricky when you're also trying to dance.
There's so much more, like how fellow NYC fan fave Bubblyfish gave out her number during her set (sorry, I didn't write it down), and the grand return of the UK's Henry Homesweet, who closed the night with his special brand of improvised dance beats. But all one needs to know is that, once again, beeps and boops rocked the Big Apple for the fifth time. Blip Festival 2012 cannot come sooner. Though the festivities are far from over! There's still the official after party that hits midnight tonight... yes, midnight on a Sunday/Monday. These folks simply cannot stop. Plus another edition of I/O NYC tomorrow. Everything you need can be gathered at official Blip Festival homepage.