The final two categories of artist from Nerdapalooza are those that I had never seen, either because I just hadn’t seen them before or because I didn’t even know who they were. They’re probably the biggest categories, so let’s jump right into it, shall we?
Artists I Knew But Hadn’t Seen Live
I was especially excited to see Death*Star live. I arrived early so I could get a good position right up front. They totally delivered. I really wanted to get more video of their set, especially “You’re Not Geek Enough for Me,” but it was really difficult being up front to get a good angle with the camera I had. Plus I was too busy dancing to hold the camera really still. I did manage to get one of my favorites from the new album, “Hard Roll,” about how awesome sandwiches are. I also got a chance to meet C0splay who turned out to be really cool.
I had listened to Sammus’s music after discovering her via Mega Ran so I was hoping for some good stuff, and once again I was not disappointed. She has some great songs, and the crowd really dug her set. She was even joined by Mega Ran for a couple of songs from their Castlevania-themed album. I hope her PhD work doesn’t prevent her from creating more music in the future. She did end with a song confessing to her mother that she wanted to pursue her music more than anything else, so it sounds like we’ll be hearing more from her.
And of course there’s the ’90s video rock back, Green Jellÿ (the umlaut makes the “y” pronounced like an “o” according to the band, who were pressure by Kraft to change their original name of “Green Jellö”). I wasn’t really sure what to expect from them, but what they brought was a “puppet show” with plenty of weirdness. They asked several members of the audience as well as performers to come up on stage in various costumes and large head pieces to dance and later mosh. Seeing Elmo crowdsurf is one of the most surreal experiences I’ve had. So much happened during their set — including audience participation (including probably the oldest and youngest members of the audience), flipping off the band and yelling “Green Jellÿ sucks!”, a very polite mosh pit, kneeling before the Cow God, a stage in the middle of the audience — that it’s hard to capture it all in just a few words. I’ll just end by saying that, yes, they did perform “Three Little Pigs,” with Bill Manspeaker (the lead singer) playing the part of the wolf (“Little pig, little pig, let me in!”) and the audience the pigs (“Not by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin!”). So amazing!
Last we come to the list of brand new artists that I’d never even heard of before their appearances at Nerdapalooza. Some I’d checked out before the concert, but many I had not. In the latter category were Gemeni. Unfortunately, I missed most of their set, but came in to find them playing a cover of “My Eyes” from Dr. Horrible. I also caught a couple of originals which I enjoyed. I will definitely be checking them out more. Also in that category are Urizen. They actually played twice. I didn’t catch the whole set the first time (during the Friday night free “preview”), but the second one seemed to be pretty much the same based on what I did see. They have a complex story much like Protomen, complete with weird stuff happening on stage. I especially enjoyed seeing various other artists come out on stage to help them defeat “The Horror.” I’ll have to check out their music to fill in the whole story.
I’d heard of Dethelehem before via Z from Hipster, Please! (who I finally got a chance to meet), but I’d never listened to them since I’m not so much of a heavy metal fan as I once was. I will be rectifying that forthwith. Like many other bands over the weekend, they put on a great stage show, complete with videos and a large blow-up 20-sided die. Lyrically they fall heavily into the fantasy realm, with a clear influence from role-playing games. I almost skipped their set to grab food, but I’m glad I didn’t.
In the category of bands I had checked out before Nerdapalooza were 9K1. I’d only found a couple of songs by them, but I liked what I heard. They played early, but it was worth getting there to see them. They had a song about Hello Kitty and one about one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I don’t remember which one specifically). I plan to write more about their CD in an upcoming post.
I’d heard of Nerf Herder before but hadn’t checked out much by them for whatever reason. I thoroughly enjoyed their set which has inspired me to listen to them more. I wasn’t expecting to hear the Buffy theme song since most of their songs actually feature lyrics, but they did manage to fit it in.
Moon Hooch is an interesting band. They started as buskers in New York with just two saxophones and drums. I’m not quite sure exactly why they were at Nerdapalooza, but they put on a really good show. One of the saxophonists played a contrabass on which he played the dubstep “wub-wub”. As an aside, I also got a chance to catch Moon Hooch a few weeks after Nerdapalooza when they opened for Mike Doughty (formerly of Soul Coughing). They really brought the energy to both shows. Very cool!
There are always one or two stand out new bands that everyone talks about all weekend, and this year was no exception. The Runaway Five are a bitpop duo who dressed as scientists with cardboard robots on stage. I’ve had their songs going through my head on a loop since seeing them, especially “Not Enough Tigers.” Probably the coolest thing about them was that they created unique mixtapes specifically for the show. And when I say mixtapes, I mean actual tapes. They went out and bought a bunch of old cassettes and then taped over them with their own music (and included a download code in case people didn’t have a tape player). They even kept the tape over the holes and decorated the cases. I grabbed one taped over Cindy Lauper’s She’s So Unusual. I hope to see more from them in the future!
Another band that created a fair amount of buzz was Orlando-based Solillaquists of Sound. Their brand of intellectual, socially conscious hip-hop may have been a bit out of place at a gathering of nerds, but I don’t think anyone really cared. There was much dancing and enjoyment of the music. They were another band where being in the crowd really brought up the energy level. I sat down for the first half of the show, just enjoying the music and watching the crowd. But when I got closer to the stage, I really appreciated the energy boost which made the experience that much more enjoyable. I hope to get a chance to see them again in the future.
So, farewell Nerdapalooza… These past few weeks have been a sad time for all of us geek music lovers, but at least we got to experience the joy of our nerdy tribe for a while. Maybe, with any luck, someone with more gumption and organizational skills than me will be able to start something similar in the future. In any case, at least we still have the music and the friends.