March 21, 2016
Back from my second overseas trip to MAGFest, and it took me a while to post this (it was pretty much one month ago), because of all the catching up I had to do on multiple fronts. Honestly this second time was the best of the two by far. Instead of focusing on official events I wanted to attend, I had a minimal plan and stayed in touch with friends, meeting them by chance at events or in the hallway, and hanging-out with them as much as I could. I ended up enjoying myself much more this way. Here we go for a totally non-exhaustive list of the little things that made my trip.
- Sharing the room and having great laughs with the coolest guys, once again : djantir, FoxxDragon, Cory Johnson, Chris Sherrif and my friend HeavyMetalHanzo, who made the trip this year with me.
- Having coffee together with my old friend and session bassist of choice Wild_Cat every morning.
- MAGUnderground Saturday, or MAGFest within MAGFest : some of the great people from the Shizz message board put this full day event together, and it was an amazing idea. I hope it happens next year as well. Lots of small bands were there too.
- Speaking of which, Prime Legion : Mike Montemarano and Erich Beckmann, both performers in Kirby's Dream Band and Vic Viper, as well as Wild_Cat, had convinced me to perform songs off Prime Legacy and Powerdrift with them on stage this year. We did it at MAGUnderground on Saturday, and I had so much fun with them while practicing and performing that I could barely stop myself from jumping around out of excitation. It easily balanced out my performing stress. Perhaps that also explains how I could withstand so well the severe sleep deprivation during the festival. Anyway, now I want to say that Prime Legion is not a one-time thing. Thanks a whole lot to all of you who were there, and get ready for more next year !
- Some other concerts that I absolutely loved :
- Twice Bit Brigade ! For those of you who don't know these guys, they play the music to a live speedrun performance, meaning you get to see a game they chose from start to finish during a whole set, and they adapt to whatever is on the screen at all times. This year they did Mega Man 2 and Ninja Gaiden, and it was mind-blowing.
- Metroid Metal. These guys need no introduction and it's not the first time I mention them here, that's for sure. They were not scheduled to play last year, but this year they were. MM is one of my favorite VG bands ever, and I was truly happy to see them this time.
- Vic Viper, during MAGUnderground. It was all very reminiscent of the Minibosses of old, as they play the music from the games note for note, but with a keyboard and a guitar instead of two guitars.
- Gimmick, also during MAGU, was one of the most fun I attended during the whole festival. They actually performed right after Prime Legion.
- Two sets of Marshall Art ! And with Cory Johnson on second guitar in one of them, as a bonus ! They drove the most emotional sets of the festival, like last year.
- Super Soul Bros and their insane musical stamina. Their secret nightly show was awesome. I wish I could improvise as easily as they all are able to, it's very inspiring to watch them play.
- The OneUps' hyper-groove, and Mustin's hilarious MC'ing, that could finally meet in the hallway later. They also did a shared performance with Robby from the Super Soul Bros, and the way they blended together seamlessly was just jaw-dropping.
- The infinite no-earplug pleasure of listening to the Super Guitar Bros, while sitting on the ground. That was the most intimate show of the whole festival. They even invited Lauren The Flute and Jer Roque on stage for a really cool performance.
- Sharing quality hang-out time with friends from the Shizz message board, getting myself beat up at Smash Bros Melee, chatting, laughing and drinking beer at the lively suite, taking a spot in the big family picture, and also joining a comfy MAGU afterparty hosted by Brenna Wilkes, with stagg throat burns and baklava cooling. Great times !
- The Live Dwelling of Duels listening party, that's still the most awesome way to put myself into the same timezone as everybody on the first day - coming from France, it's like pulling an all-nighter on the first day after another very short night just to catch the plane ! Also, check out that new web site ! It's been up for a short while, and it's a lot easier to browse through the artists and the massive amount of songs that has been stacked there over the years.
- Hanging out during a whole night with the Henri bros and MM's drummer Kevin "Cheddar" Lawrence. Thinking of nicknames for the drummers in the community : "Fastest Drummer In The West" goes to Erich, "Assassin" goes to Kevin, and "Crazy Hammer" goes to Adam Henri.
- Meeting more people at the chip suite, hanging out with President Hoodie and the lovely Erin, the most fun Chiptune = WIN ambassadors, and discussing language accents with them along with Chipzel.
- The arcade/console/indie area in all its free gaming glory, getting to credit feed my favorite genre (vertical scrolling bullet-hell shmups), two players pinball and the inevitable FUTURE FUTBOL for 4 players until totally unreasonable hours.
- Getting my custom-painted 3DS signed by Manami Matsumae and boasting about it to everyone I could find during the whole evening.
- A heroic, almost full-time jamming Sunday, with joyful and totally unplanned performances with Daemon9623 from the Shizz (I tried to play drums ?!), Jer Roque, Lauren the Flute, Ben Briggs, Jameson Sutton and many others until the very last minutes of jamspace. That was glorious. Peter Kim's (Materia) Stratocaster is the tightest single-coil guitar I've ever played. I wish I could have jammed together with him though. At 5AM on Monday it was too late !
- Having some of the best laughs in my recent memory while recording crappy covers on a whim with Daemon9623, Sam, clansmaneddie, MagicalYardgnome, and Michael Hoffmann, in our rooms during Sunday evening. Spontaneous, and just amazing. I laughed so hard that I cried.
- Room gaming : Uniracers and two-on-one-controller Street Fighter 2 and Super Mario Kart, with roommates and friends. We yelled super loud and yet HeavyMetalHanzo slept without hearing us at all !
- Still more hang-outs and long conversations with Daniel Floyd from Extra Credits, Geoff Thew from Mother's Basement, Michael Hoffmann, the Kelly bros and the Marcato bros.
- Meeting old and new friends by chance in the hallway or at concerts : Nario, Luiza, Zyko, Alyssa Menes, Jonathan Parecki.
- That very informative legal panel with Sam Castree and Wild_Cat as a guest, that was also very fun to attend, thanks to all the anecdotes the guests had to tell.
- Staying connected to people via texts during the whole week-end. I learnt my lesson of last year and got a simcard as soon as I landed. It was a bit expensive, but really helpful. I'll do the same next time.
The Not So Best
- Uh-oh, my guitar wasn't in tune during the Prime Legion set and I noticed it when watching the 8bitX stream videos. I had tons of fun with my boys, but it's still a slight bummer. Well, in any case it means that if you enjoyed it, it could have been better. Also playing with a capo is definitely not something I like to do at all. Lessons learnt !
- I missed X-Hunters and Mountain Chiefs even though I wanted to see them, because of overlaps with other scheduled stuff in the festival. I heard that their sets were good though !
- I wish I could have jammed with even more people. There was only one guitar amp available on Sunday too, so it wasn't possible to play guitar together with Daemon9623, or as I said earlier, Peter Kim. I also missed the opportunity to play with the Henri bros when they got to jamspace to perform their Chrono Trigger song.
- To any of you whose ears I might have hurt by shouting because my earplugs are too damn strong, I deeply apologize.
What now ?
All in all, I had an amazing time in National Harbor, and I look forward to going again next year ! In the meantime, let's go back to working on music and games. As I said when starting this write-up, I had a ton of catching-up to do. Several arrangements are already in the works, most of them are collabs, so it takes more time for me to release them. But you don't want to miss that Mario Kart 8 song I've been working on !