Thursday, July 21, 2011

Señor Superlatives

Last year I framed my post-Nerdapalooza coverage as a mock awards show. You know, for lulz. But folks actually seemed to dig it. In fact a screen shot of said post actually popped up on the monitors during the Sci-Fried set at this year's festival.

(Did I mention that them's my boys?)

So, as this blog is really just rote cleverly disguised as good-natured spontaneity, let us commence with dispensation of these wholly fictitious and delightfully sardonic awards.

/lights dim

The Chicken Salad Out of Chicken Shit Award: Scrub Club
The Scrub Club set at the pre-party should have been a disaster. It was a steamy southern Friday night performance in front of a heavily jetlagged crowd that had started drinking the moment their feet touched the ground. Practically the entire label was expected to perform in a slot time that could've easily been a tight fit even for a single act. Oh, and MadHatter's plane was delayed. Seriously delayed. But instead of folding, the crew dominated. In a rapid-fire set that not only showcased each of the Scrubs in attendance but actually saw the crew welcome some new blood, in the form of Torrentz and Soup or Villains, to the family, the Club once again made their mark on central Florida.


Pass the Mic: Insane Ian, Devo Spice, the great Luke Ski and Carrie Dahlby
While Dual Core's trademark freestyle session was off the proverbial chain at Nerdapalooza 2011, theirs was not the only guest-heavy set at the festival. The Funny Music Project crew managed to come correct across a trio of humorous sets that showcased both their immutable stage presence and their artistic cohesion. Even with copious notes I have trouble separating my memories of the FuMP's trio of top-shelf performances because each act featured so heavily across all three.

The Seamless Transition Award: Marc with a C and Sci-Fried
When I asked Sci-Fried's Dammit Jim what his band and geek rock troubadour Marc with a C had planned for Saturday's Power Hour, he just grinned. A performance that was, by the guys' own admission, nearly six months in the making proved an early highlight of the event. A glorious Marc with a C set wrapped with a rocked up version of his Alro Guthrie-esque "Nerdy Girls" with Sci-Fried serving as the backup band, and then Sci-Fried returned the favor with phenomenal live version of their collaborative track "Foiled Again." Marc also reappeared later to help cover Weezer's "Hash Pipe" as part of an appropriately raucous send-off.

Cover Song of the Year Decade: Sci-Fried/The Protomen
I think my cover song challenge has been irreparably broken. Between Sci-Fried's own pair of closing cover tunes (the aforementioned Weezer joint and mc's "Fett's Vette," for those who missed it) and a series of larger-than-life rock classics spread between both Protomen sets (my favorite of which had to be Sunday's "Total Eclipse of the Heart,") I'm afraid it will never be the same again.

Hit Me Baby, One More Time: Captain Dan
The talk of the town after Captain Dan and the Scurvy Crew's late afternoon set on Saturday was less about the performance itself and more about the tech, specifically Dan's new hands-free mic. Many an MC called him out on this unorthodox new addition, but I think we all know it was the ninjas doing the bulk of the smack talk. While it did admittedly make the Cap look a bit like an overzealous employee running a Long John Silver's drive-through, it also freed him up for more stage antics. Ere go I will call it an overall win.

Blow up the Small Stage: Illbotz/Adam WarRock and Tribe One/Dual Core/Mega Ran and K-Murdock
Like its predecessor, Nerdcore 2011 boasted a pair of stages: the larger NOS-sponsored main stage and a smaller GeekDad stage set around the corner from the main conference hall. The big stage was, for the most part, home to the more rock-centered acts while the GeekDad stage boasted the hip-hop. A few acts, however, seemed wholly unaware that they were on the "little stage." Roanoke's Illbotz, comic shop hip-hopper Adam WarRock and perennial favorites Random and Dual Core blew that fucker up with energetic sets that could scarcely be contained by the room's meager geography.

Them's My Boys: Adam WarRock/Stevie D
I joke that I go to Nerdapalooza to hang out and that the music simply provides for that primary activity a nice soundtrack. Sure, that's only partly true, but it seems like each year I spend the bulk of my time – both while watching performances and after hours – hanging out with a widening circle of friends. This year Adam WarRock and Stevie D joined the ranks of my true homies alongside previous Nerdapalooza acquisitions int eighty and Sci-Fried.

The Preternaturally Chill Award: The OneUps
I was a little intimidated by the prospect of meeting VGM legend and super producer Mustin, but I was delighted to find him to be an easily approachable, almost unbelievably chill individual. I can't properly quantify how much time he and I spent just talking between sets, but it would likely have to be calculated in hours. His band, The OneUps, brings that same sort of effortless cool to their performances. Even on a bill opposite brilliantly aggressive VGM acts like Arm Cannon, those guys truly shined.

Best Stage Banter: Inverse Phase
Already handicapped by holding down the chiptune scene almost entirely on his own, Inverse Phase was further stymied by receiving a lunchtime slot on Sunday. Everyone was hungry, tired and hung-over, but those who made their way to his performance found themselves treated to a uniquely enjoyable set of covers, originals and audience participation. His rousing game of Name That Tune will live forever in the annals of Nerdapalooza history.

Breakthrough Artist: Shinobi Ninja
Nerdapalooza 2011 introduced me to a number of new artists. Koo Koo Kangaroo filled a gap left by the longtime absence of Monsterface and Math the Band, while Beebs and Her Money Makers brought beards, kazoos and a dash of Florida ska-core to the table. My favorite, however, was blistering Brooklyn rock/hip-hop fusion outfit Shinobi Ninja. They offered not only one of the finest performances of the show, but also provided an ideal backing track during GeekDad Curtis's tattoo session.

Hosts with the Most(s): Schaffer the Darklord and Nelson Lugo
While they will always be primarily remembered for bringing many-a scantily clad woman to the Nerdapalooza stage, STD and Lugo managed to keep the train rolling all weekend long with an intoxicating blend of humor, insight and charm. They also do bar mitzvahs.

A Winner is You: Beaker
Those same gents hosted a weekend-long ThinkGeek raffle at Nerdapalooza 2011. From which my boy Beaker won practically everything. Remember, kids, you can't win if you don't play.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

#NAP2011 was an Inside Job

Photo/bead sprite by @madhattersez
I'm dying to share with you my impressions of Nerdapalooza 2011, but it's proving rather difficult. Right now most of my memories are indistinct, amorphous. (And not just because of the booze.)

I think I'm still a little too close to the event itself.

I remember once going to the Dali museum in St. Pete and looking up at The Hallucinogenic Toreador on its original, full-size canvas. All I saw was flies, fabric and arches until I stepped back and took the whole thing in from a distance.

The same principle's at play here, and I should be able to relate the overall experience better in a couple of days when I've achieved that optimum distance.

For now, though, I'd like to reveal a subset of my notes from the event. They were tucked away on their own little page under the heading "Inside Jokes." If you weren't there they probably won't mean much, and even if you were some will still miss their mark. Shit, there are a couple of 'em even I don't understand, so consider this a rough experiment. Or better yet my own fragmented attempt at gonzo journalism.
  • Drinky Time with Shael and Z.
  • "Cover your shame and your nipples with this fine quality t-shirt!"
  • The ever-living cookie meme
  • "[X] do you know [Y]?"
  • Matching faces with screen names
  • "Z. is away being a social butterfly."
  • Sexy elevator voice
  • The utter debauchery of the Sunni cam
  • "They also seem to aid in the abatement of hangovers, though I couldn't find that anywhere on the packaging."
  • "Give me all the bacon and eggs you have…"
  • "What could anyone possibly have against Doritos?"
  • "When I say hip, you whisper hop!"
  • MC Bagels (It ain't nothin' for him to toast a bitch!)
  • "How old is your little dude?"
  • "I expected a cowboy hat."
  • Big stage sets on the little stage
  • "The price of that man's love? Two AA batteries." 
  • "This raffle never ends!"
  • The mysterious (but probably distasteful and damn-near Faustian) Larry/Mark barter
  • "He paid his dues on the fast track, very likely using night classes and summer school."
  • Over 1000?!
  • "On three: 1-2-3 5 minutes!"
  • Attack of the tiny bass players
  • "See? That's the kind of shit that happens when white people dance."
  • A science-free weekend
  • Magic blankets

Today's wholly incomprehensible post is brought to you by the letters N-A-P and the number 1000.