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PAX East 2014: Concert Reviews (Metroid Metal, MC Frontalot, Anamanaguchi, VGO and more!)
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April 15, 2014, 08:14
Nah just kidding, I'm not going to actually sit here and review concerts now. But I will give my impressions, because I love music, doubly so if it has anything to do with video games, and they were some pretty neat concerts that are worth talking about. Basically, there were two concerts, the Friday Night Concert and the Saturday Night Concert. And now you will hear about both.

Friday Night Concert

Bit Brigade

I showed up late for the Friday concert and missed like half of the Bit Brigade, but the half that I did see was pretty awesome. They're basically a rock / metal band that puts their own take on music from a variety of video game franchises. This time around it was all Zelda, and I can't complain about that. One interesting part of the show is that they had someone playing the final dungeon of The Legend of Zelda live during the show, and they managed to sync things so that they were finishing up their set right as the player beat Ganon, which of course sent the crowd into a frenzy. Gotta love that kind of synchronicity.

Metroid Metal

And here is a guy that a lot of you former / current IGNers will know. I finally had a chance to see Grant Henry aka Stemage aka Metroid Metal play live, and man... it was well worth the wait. What started as a solo project many, many years ago has grown into a full 5 piece metal band, and is better for it. Don't get me wrong, Grant's solo stuff was amazing, but the live band experience is unbeatable, and the polish displayed was no small feat considering that, as I was informed, most of the members don't even live anywhere near each other so weekly band practice isn't really in the cards.

If you know anything about me, you know that Metroid is one of my favorite franchises (with Super Metroid and Metroid Prime being two of my favorite games ever made), and I also love me some metal, so Metroid Metal is a near perfect combination for me. It's so awesome to hear some of my favorite songs from the series remixed into unique metal ballads and played live, and the video of the games playing on the giant screens over the stage filled me with much nostalgia.

I also had a chance to talk to Grant a bit after the show. Reminiscing about the old IGN days. Fun times.


You probably know by now that I'm a big fan of Anamanaguchi, considering that they have the only album review I have ever written for this site. There really isn't too much to say about their performance that I haven't said when I have seen them play before. They have some great songs, combining rock / punk / electronic / etc. with chiptune synths, and this is the first time that I have gotten to hear the stuff from their latest album IE the one that I reviewed in the link above. The musician in me really wishes that they would play some live synths instead of playing over prerecorded synths, but I guess you can't have everything.

Saturday Night Concert

The Doubleclicks

Unfortunately I showed up even later on Saturday and completely missed The Doubleclicks, a female duo from Portland who sings nerdy songs while playing guitars, ukeleles, cellos, etc. Next time?

MC Frontalot

You probably already know MC Frontalot, and if you don't, you should check him out in the documentary Nerdcore Rising. He's basically a nerdy white rapper. But it's not just a gimmick, you see, because he is darn good at it. One thing that I really loved about his act is that, unlike a lot of rappers, it was completely live, with a drummer, bass player, and keyboardist (at times keytarist) backing up his sick rhymes. Rhymes about first world problems, how you are likely to be eaten by a grue and erm... yellow lasers. You can figure out what that one is about on your own.

The Video Game Orchestra (VGO)

Man, I don't even know where to start. Wait no, that isn't true, I think I know exactly where to start. Have you ever seen a rock / metal band + mini orchestra (string section and chanting) play a Super Hexagon song live? I had not. And now I have. It's every bit as exquisite as it sounds.

The Video Game Orchestra is the brainchild of Shoto Nakama, a graduate from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, aka where I am right now. And it was quite an excellent idea. Get an amazing core band (guitars, bass, drums), mix in some strings, and why not throw a female vocalist on top of that for a few songs? It works great.

In addition to Super Hexagon, songs from Final Fantasy VIII, Sonic 2, The Legend of Zelda, Skyrim, Plants vs. Zombies and more were performed.

Still, the highlight of the show to me had to be the VGO's rendition of F-Zero's Big Blue. And not just the show; I'm not exaggerating when I say that it may very well be the most impressive piece of music that I have ever seen performed live. My only complaint is that they didn't finish the show with it.

Yep. Sometimes I feel like the concerts alone pay for the price of these cons. (Not that I paid to get into this one...)

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Posted: 04/15/14, 08:14  - Edit:  04/15/14, 19:44
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Those all sound incredible. Your statement about them being worth the trip may be true from my perspective. I need to go to PAX some day and see for myself.

Posted by 
 on: 04/15/14, 13:50
They just added PAX San Antonio to the roster. Um... not that that is any closer to Michigan than Boston is.

Posted by 
 on: 04/18/14, 02:27
I saw people on Twitter say that Kozilek's rave was pretty awesome.

Anamanaguchi is great too. Prom Night is poppy awesomeness.

Posted by 
 on: 04/18/14, 02:56
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