Last wednesday I went to the Data Pop 3.0 festival at the Highball bar in Austin, TX. The Data Pop festival is a re-occuring event in Austin that features the best and most popular chiptune bands. Chiptunes for those of you that are unfamiliar with it, is music created by using the audio chip from old video game consoles, most notably the Nintendo Gameboy. This particular event was timed with the SXSW music conference happening here in Austin last week and went on for 2 nights. Due to my inability to be spontaneous we only made it to the second night of the festival, but we had a great time.
First I just want to take a minute and gush over what a great venue the Highball is. The Highball is on South Lamar in the same shopping center as the Alamo Drafthouse (incidently the Drafthouse was also hosting free showings of the chiptune documentary: "Reformat the Planet" in conjunction with the show). Its a funky bar that features old 1950's style bowling lanes, skeeball, karaoke rooms, a dance floor complete with disco ball and light show and a fantastic menu and bar. The place has alot of class and a great vibe for hanging out and having fun in.
Ok that aside, the show was alot of fun. We got their early so we could eat and make sure we got a table before the place got jam packed. We listened to Talk to Animals while we ate. The music and beats were well programmed and interesting, but I think what I liked best was watching how nerdy the whole crew looked bobbing around on stage. Occasionally an extremely bookish looking girl would take to yelling in the microphone. I'm sure this is what Atari Teenage Riot sounded like in middle school. Good stuff.
Next we heard Starscream, which rocked the house with a real drummer accompanying their Gameboys. I liked the contrast of the live drums with the electronic music. I thought it worked pretty well and it was fun to watch. After Starscream, Henry Homesweet hit the stage with his mix of video game music and techno driven beats. Henry danced about the stage frenetically and did a great job of getting the crowd hyped up for the next band 8BK:ok.
8BK:ok seemed to be the crowd favorite. This band does showtunes and disco covers to very frantically paced video game musical backgrounds. Its a great cheesy concept... sort of an Atari karaoke or Bette Midler vs. Pacman if you will. I love it, but I thought alot was lost in the actual performance of this concept. My main complaint were the singers. They were miserably out of tune to the point where sometimes the only way you could recognize a song was because of the lyrics. I'm not going to be too harsh on them, because I do know how a bad monitor mix can play havoc on vocal performance. I suppose I should actually find it refreshing after all of the overuse of autotune in popular music. To their credit most of the crowd didn't care at all and were having a great time. I don't know how many people that night came up to me to tell me how much they loved this band. So uh... don't listen to me. I'm just the crotchety sound person in the back row ;-)
At this point it was midnight and a wednesday so we took off towards home. The next day I had heard that Je Deviens DJ en 3 Jours and Anamanaguchi put on shows I shouldn't have missed. So I guess next time I'll stay longer :)
Here is a video I put togethor of footage from the night and a little bit of the audio as well. There was so much talking and background noise, that I only used a little bit of the show audio in the video at the beginning and end. The main chunk of it is a piece by Henry Homesweet I really like called: Pocket Monster. Enjoy!
- Until next time... Over N' Out