"You guys might need some earplugs."
–Nullsleep, Blip Fest 2012
Blip Festival 2012, which took place this past Memorial Day weekend, was many things.
It was the greatest assemblage of 8-bit musicians from across the globe and on a single stage, for the sixth year running. It was a bunch of kids moshing and crowd surfing to sounds produced by Game Boys, or at least trying to. And it was a chance for a half naked guy wearing nothing but wolf ears and a cape to spend most of his time fiddling around with a SNES/Super Game Boy/Game Boy Camera in front of a (completely baffled) audience.
Every year has someone stating that Blip has "officially made it", and the same holds true for its 2k12 installment in many ways. This time around, organizers teamed up with Live Nation, the nationwide concert promoting behemoth, to help run the show. According to Mike Rosenthal, key member of The Tank, the NYC-based non-profit arts presenter that produces the festival alongside chiptunes label 8bitpeoples, it was Live Nation who approached Blip Fest, due to their interest in infiltrating such a scene.
And instead of some art space that isn't necessarily equipped for a weekend-long music festival, this year's Blip took place at a "legit" music hall, the Gramercy Theatre. Unfortunately, sexy upgrades often bring along some pleasant annoyances, like criminally overpriced alcohol and obnoxious crowd wranglers; the stuff you find at "real" concerts. But when you get down to it, this year's Blip was like all others: an eye opening/mind blowing/booty shaking experience that will be talked among chiptune advocates and aficionados for quite some time.
The first evening of Blip 2k12 was, as expected, a great mix of local artists, plus those from a little across the way, and someone from halfway across the globe. Among those representing New York City was exileFaker, who kicked off Blip real proper like, with good old fashioned, NES-like tunes. The kind of audio that many people new to chiptune expect and hope for when tasting such music for the first time. Along with Zen Albatross, whose jagged yet funky Game Boy driven beats blew away his 2k11 set, which was exemplarily to being with.
One early highlight was minusbaby, who has long been at the forefront of pushing the very definition of what chiptunes can and wants to be. His Blip apperances are either legendary or infamous, depending on whom you talk to, and this year's did not disappoint. In addition to the aforementioned dude in the cape and wolf ears, minusbaby was accompanied by his "8-Hit Combo." Turns out, the flute is an excellent instrument to accentuate bass-heavy chip sounds.
We addressed NYC's heaviest hitter, and Blip Fest co-founder, Nullsleep already in our day one micro report. Along with the not-quite local talent who calls himself Shitbird; it's unfortunate his video highlight does not include his hardcore covers of Dig Dug and the theme from Konami's Goonies game. Chipocrite (http://www.chipocrite.com/) is another out of towner, from Philly to be exact, and does the guitar plus Game Boy thing. In addition to an intense mix of rock and dance, his New Order cover was the sing along hit of the night.