I consider Melbourne to be a home away from home. The vibrancy of the city and what it has to offer just astounds me! From the smallest of things like the great breakfast places and putting kebabs in Turkish bread to the eclectic choice of gigs, venues and music festivals in which to participate, perform and attend. I performed many moons ago in gigs around the city mainly playing experimental electronic music and while I miss the rush and fun factor of being able to showcase my artwork with other like-minded folk, it was also a relief to be on the other side of the stage for a change.
I am of course referring to Blip Festival Australia.
Since 2006 this festival has set the standard for 8-bit music festivals all around the world (well okay, just Tokyo, New York and Denmark) and has showcased many of the finest Chiptune acts the world has embraced. On the 17th February of 2012, Australia finally got the opportunity to be a part of the Blip Festival cavalcade. The event was held over two days at the Evelyn Hotel in the heart of Brunswick Street not far from the infamous Mana Bar and Kebab Factory (I highly recommend the doner kebab in the Turkish bread where the lamb is so tender you could eat it with your gums). Okay, I’m going off track here…back to the festival!
It’s Friday evening and I arrive just in time for the second act which was Bit Shifter. Before I continue just note that I will be adding [a] and [v] next to each artist’s name to indicate who was performing audibly and who performed visually (as in VJ’ing). I should add this is the first time at a festival where I’ve witnessed artists VJ’ing one set and then performing live for another set and vice versa. The sun was just setting and the crowd began to enter the venue. It certainly didn’t take long for the venue to get packed out either!
Sadly I missed the first act Abortifacient [a]/Jayson Haebich [v], but showed up just in time to catch the second half of Bit Shifter [a]/Batsly Adams [v]. Ten Thousand Free Men & Their Families [a]/Gentle Hurst [v] were next and what a performance! Hardcore screaming and Gabba kicks lathed in with 8-bit symphonics and boganesque humour. Great Aussie act!
These acts were followed by Monodeer [a]/iLKke [v] who delivered an astoundingly dark, noisy, dubstep-inspired set- a combination of organic and electronic instruments presented by 7bit Hero [a/v], then Little-Scale [a]/Batsly Adams [v] delivering an exuberant set which gave me flashbacks from the good ol’ days when I used to attend Industrial/Noise gigs when travelling to Melbourne in the mid naughties.
Then the night was wrapped up nicely with Saitone [a]/iLKke [v] who performed a glitchy/IDM-inspired set and finally blowing everyone away with an energetic 8-bit electro set was Trash 80 [a]/Jayson Haebich [v]. Day 1 was over and left me gasping for more!
On to Day 2…
As we all know, it’s the music/live performances which make Blip Festival what it is. Not only that however, as there were workshops and presentations happening at the Fitzroy Library as well. I went to attend the LSDJ for beginners workshop hosted by Ctrix. Everyone at the workshop were pretty partied-out from the night before so the workshop was relaxing, yet so much was covered in one hour. I walked out of there confused but determined to get my head around LSDJ. Other workshops included LittleGPTracker for beginners hosted by Lazerbeat. LittleGPTracker is like LSDJ, but much more versatile and can be used with numerous other devices/consoles.
Another workshop was with Dr Seb Tomczak aka Little-Scale who hosted a beginners course on building your own Mega Drive/Genesis MIDI Interface. In other words you create a device with which you can control the sounds from a Mega Drive to form music. Lastly Nullsleep delivered an hour-long presentation about the history of Chiptunes Music.
Back to the Evelyn for day two of the festival. Old Grey Wolf [a] started the night nicely by incorporating other instruments into his set and was accompanied by Abortifacient [v] for visuals. Next we had Melbourne’s Derris-Kharlan [a] with Jayson Haebich [v], followed by Lazerbeat [a] / iLKke [v], then Dot.AY [a] with Jayson Haebich [v].
The above video is from Amandapalmer on YouTube
Let me stop here for a second at Dot.AY’s performance and mention that his set alone was amazing…but to knock it up a notch even more? A surprise performance from none other than Amanda Palmer from Dresden Dolls! She took to the stage and it became obvious that the majority of the crowd was shocked to see her there! The rendition the duo did of Lana Del Ray’s “Video Games” together was beautiful! I had to listen to the original afterwards and I must say that as much as I like the original, the atmosphere that brewed during this moment was, and will always be, one that I won’t forget in a hurry!
Nullsleep [a]/Batsly Adams [v] came on after Dot.AY, followed by Patric Catani [a/v] who’s set reminisced old-school EBM from the 80’s like DAF and Front 242. Hally [a] followed suit with iLKke [v]. Sadly the venue had a power outage and the set was interrupted, but that didn’t stop the crowd cheering the artists on though! And wrapping up the festival was _ensnare_ [a] with Batsly Adams [v].
Then out of nowhere cTrix [a] came on stage and did a brute set to end the night on an 8-bit buzz!
To be honest summarising my experiences at Blip Festival Australia is difficult without the visual representations of photos and videos people have posted up on YouTube, so I recommend you scour the web for more about this amazing event!
To learn more about the artists who played at Blip Fest Australia 2012 check out the official webpage: http://australia.blipfestival.org/
All in all I had an amazing time at the festival and I even found myself reminiscing frequently about when I performed and attended Distorted 2005 (an Industrial Music festival). The overall vibe and sound from the festival just kept reminding me of the old days. Mad props to all the audible and visual artists and also to Kristy Dossor and Eugene for organising an awesome event which is a first in Australia and hopefully not the last. Will I come back to Blipfest 2013 if there is one? You bet!
As an afterthought, Blipfest 2012 was also covered on the hit gaming show “Good Game” on ABC Australia.