Let's face it: there's going to be a metric crap-load of stuff going on at MAGFest 9 this year- and it can be tough to decide what's worth checking out. So, for the benefit of the Destructoid community (and my own audience, whom I've linked to these articles), allow me to give a little insight as to who's showing up and what's happening at this year's Music and Gaming Fesitval.
THE BANDS: MAGFest will feature 12 of the best musical acts in the video-game cover scene over three days of concerts! Here's a little more info about each one.
THURSDAY'S BANDS: (concerts start at 9:00 PM)
BIT BRIGADE: This Athens, GA band puts on a very special act: Master speedgamer Noah McCarthy takes on a classic NES game, and these guys play the musical accompaniment in real-time! They've done stints as "Megaband", "Contraband", and "Ninjaband"- who knows what they're going to perform at MAGFest?
RARE CANDY: An offshoot of Entertainment System (see Friday's bands), this band features none other than MAGFest concert head Dominic Cerquetti on lead keyboard. While similar to their mother band, Rare Candy is much more electronically driven and tends to make more daring musical choices in their arrangements.
LISTEN FOR: Their surf-rock rendition of the Final Fantasy 4 boss theme.
THE X HUNTERS: Brentalfloss once said it better than me: this band will bubble your crab, spark your mandrill, and boomer your kuwanger. It's all Mega Man X, all the time for these Philadelphia, PA rockers.
LISTEN FOR: How many different stage themes they can play in one medley.
FRIDAY'S BANDS: (concerts begin at 6:00 PM)
BRENTALFLOSS: (appearing in the JamSpace at 2:30 PM) New York's clown prince of video games, Brentalfloss' satirical "With Lyrics" videos have made him a Youtube sensation. He's done guest spots with Mega Ran, Video Games Live, the Megas, and many others- and was also the emcee at last year's Bit Gen.
LISTEN FOR: His newer stuff, including Zelda 2 and Halloween Kirby.
ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM: Perhaps the best pure VGM band playing today. Entertainment System are also the chief organizers of the Bit Gen Gamer Fest, a summer concert in their hometown of Baltimore, MD, where many MAGFest bands also play. Their newest album, the Mario/Zelda tribute Rock n' Roll Cereal, is due for release in the next few weeks.
LISTEN FOR: Plenty of cuts from the new album- Mario and Zelda galore!
THE ONEUPS: This funk/jazz/fusion quintet out of Fayetteville, AR classes up whatever joint it's in. Headed by OverClocked Remixer and Bad Dudes frontman Mustin, Their complicated, inventive arrangements all seem to scream to doubters, "this is so music, you unimaginative jerks!" Their latest release, Super Mario Kart Album, is available now.
LISTEN FOR: All of it. Everything the Oneups play goes down smooth.
ARM CANNON: Overclocked Remixer and Bad Dudes member Danimal Cannon leads this Buffalo, NY group, which plays metal video game covers with splashes of jazz, reggae, and electronica. Their mascot, Pizzor, is a beast on the drum kit.
LISTEN FOR: Their Mega Man 3 medley, as well as the wrestling theme mashup "I'm A Real Sexy American Boy".
THE PROTOMEN: A ten-piece rock ensemble from Murfreesboro, TN that has written two concept albums based loosely on the Mega Man mythos. They'll be playing the entirety of their self-titled debut album on Friday, an electrified rock opera about robots, revenge, and oppression.
LISTEN FOR: "The Will Of One". Be sure to chant along. "We! Have! Con! Trol! We! Keep! You! Safe! We! Are! Your! Hope!"
THE MINIBOSSES: One of the original video game music bands, the Minibosses have been relatively dormant the release of their 2005 album, Brass. They played the first four MAGFests, but this is their first time back since 2006. They're considered a chief influence by many of the other bands performing this year.
LISTEN FOR: Ninja Gaiden, for starters. Other than that, they're sure to have some new tricks after this long of a layoff.
METROID METAL: This VGM supergroup includes Kirby of Temp Sound Solutions and Danimal Cannon of Armcannon. They met up several MAGFests ago, and after a mind-blowing JamSpace session, they went into business together as the ultimate Metroid tribute band.
LISTEN FOR: Brinstar, Tallon Overworld, Norfair... if you love Metroid, this is a can't-miss.
SATURDAY'S BANDS (concerts begin at 6:00 PM)
THE MEGAS: A rock band out of Los Angeles, CA that specializes in rearranging music from the Mega Man games and adding lyrics and story. Their first album, the Mega Man 2 chronicle Get Equipped, gave them their notoreity, they've continually teased that the follow-up Mega Man 3 album will be out at MAGFest.
LISTEN FOR: At the very least, "You've Sparked A War", the Spark Man theme, released as a single last summer.
POWERGLOVE: Currently the most successful VGM band, this spiked-shoulderpad crew mixes game tunes with melodic death metal. They've toured heavily with other metal acts such as HammerFall, Sonata Arctica, Mutiny Within, and DragonForce. They recently signed a deal with E1 Records, the largest independent record label in the U.S., joining a lineup that includes the likes of Black Label Society, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Stabbing Westward. Their first release with that label, Saturday Morning Apocalypse, is available now.
LISTEN FOR: "Mario Minor" and "Power, Wisdom, Courage".
THIS PLACE IS HAUNTED: This crew from New York, NY flirted with breaking up over the past year, but simply fired their drummer instead. Now they're back in business, ready to bring their intense, bass-driven game medleys to MAGFest 9. Outside of their video game albums, their 2006 rock release Ghosts In The Graveyard comes highly recommended.
LISTEN FOR: Their epic medleys, including Double Dragon and Sonic the Hedgehog.
YEAR 200X: This group of indie metal vets from Lansing, MI have been steadily growing since 2006. They're currently working on the follow-up to their 2008 debut album, We Are Error.
LISTEN FOR: Their soaring rendition of "The Moon" from Ducktales.
THE PROTOMEN: The Protomen return on Saturday to play the entirety of their second album, Act II: The Father Of Death, which sounds like what would happen if Dennis DeYoung recruited "Born To Run"-era Bruce Springsteen and the Electric Light Orchestra to help him make Kilroy Was Here.
LISTEN FOR: "Breaking Out", which wears its classic-rock influences proudly on its sleeve.
TOMORROW: Chiptune artists!
WEDNESDAY: The rest of the stuff!