Meb Byrne

BlipFest

In concert, music, performance on December 18, 2009 at 5:49 pm

BlipFest, a three-day music show of video-game-themed chip music, is a fast-paced, high-energy event for dancing and jumping your cares away. Now in its fourth year, BlipFest is held in The Bell House in Brooklyn, a large space with high wooden ceilings and big brass chandeliers. A small stage is set up in the center of the room for the musical performers and their equipment, while images created for each performer are projected onto a screen behind the stage. The designs change continuously, and range from primitive computer graphics and pixelation to checkerboard patterns, bouncing rainbow circles to Twilight Zone spirals, depending on the artist.

I attended the first night of BlipFest with five gentlemen who know and love the show, and who were kind enough to give me the skinny on the scene. For example, I was informed that three types of people attend BlipFest: 

  • production people, who are into the chip-music-making process;
  • dance music people, who cluster toward the front of the stage; and
  • video game geeks, generally fatter than everyone else, but earnest in their attempts to dance. 

These categories are informative but not exhaustive; for example, I’m not sure where the person dressed as Santa Clause and wearing a welder’s mask would fit. (I’m not kidding.)

BlipFest’s musical artists come to New York from as far abroad as Seattle, Washington and Leon, France, and run the gamut in their musical styles. Early Thursday evening, Leeni wore a white bobbed wig and sang along with her tracks of menacing, circus-y music. In contrast, Albino Ghost Monkey paired his epilepsy-inducing flashing green-and-brown visuals with gabber music and danced with the crowd on the floor. The weirdest performer of the evening, Eat Rabbit, took the stage in a suit, tie and full-headed rabbit mask.

The best act of the evening was minusbaby, who dropped high-energy Afro-infused beats while flailing boys crowd-surfed. His geometric visuals, provided by Enso, were aesthetically simple, repetitive and powerful, and used 3-D glasses to enhance the experience with color. Best of all, minusbaby kept the music going with minimal breaks, which kept the crowd moving and the mosh pits moshing.

As good as minusbaby was Je Deviens DJ En Trois Jours. The French native rapped and snarled into his microphone, interjecting guttural roars into his hardcore heavy metal beats. The crowd got rough when he played, slamming with a frenzy, devil horns held high as white balloons bopped around the room. Unfortunately, Je Deviens DJ En Trois Jour’s equipment stalled at awkward moments, leading to the ire of the crowd.

Between sets, the lounge adjacent to the main concert space fills up with dancers seeking $6 draft beers and a seat on one of the many squishy leather couches. The bar’s atmosphere is very chill, and a good respite before reentering the main space to dance even more, or braving the cold Brooklyn streets heading home.

BlipFest runs Thursday, 12/17 through Saturday, 12/19 at the Bell House. Tickets are $15 at the door. A coat check is available for $2 per item. Come dressed to dance.

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