As I mentioned in my preview of Nerdapalooza 2013, this was without doubt the biggest year yet. With headliners They Might Be Giants, Nerf Herder, and Green Jellÿ, they were able to get the Orange County Convention Center, which, as it turned out, made for an ideal location. Unfortunately, despite record attendance, things didn’t turn out so well for the people who run the show. As of October 28, 2013, they’ve had to declare bankruptcy. I almost stopped writing this when I read that (which is one of the reasons it took so long to get this out), but I decided it would be good for the bands if nothing else. Plus it can serve as a showcase for the numerous videos and pictures I took (here, here, and here, by date. And, yes, I’m aware that they’re completely unedited. They’re also uncaptioned as of the date this is published. Maybe I’ll get around to it, eventually…). It’s just that now it’s all touched with a tinge of sadness. I’ll miss being in an environment where you can just genuinely express your love for something without fear of judgment. It was awesome to see people so excited about artists that I didn’t even know. Nerds are my tribe, and I hope that something else like this can rise up sometime.
Rather than narrate this in chronological order like I usually do, I’ve decided to just feature a few different categories of artists. The weekend featured around 40 artists, including some perennial favorites, some returning acts and, of course, several new acts that really impressed everyone. If I skip a band, it could be for many reasons: some artists I just didn’t see (food was less of a problem this year, but still meant missing certain acts) and some just didn’t really do anything for me even though they were perfectly good artists. So let’s start with some of those perennial favorites, artists that have been at several Nerdapaloozas.
First up we have Mega Ran, who was awesome as always. He played songs from pretty much every part of his career, including Mega Man, Final Fantasy (so glad he did “Avalanche,” my favorite from Black Materia), and Language Arts (including special guest MC Lars on “Me and the Mouse 2.0”). And then, of course, one of my favorite nerdcore artists, Adam WarRock, killed it as always. I particularly loved “Get Smart” with Jesse Dangerously and Beefy.
One band noticeably missing from the original list of performers was Emergency Pizza Party. I was really surprised to see that they weren’t playing, but then it turned out the B-Type couldn’t make it from England so they were able to take his place, minus Funky 49 (who was doing one of his science museum gigs, but showed up later on Saturday) and Rappy McRapperson. As usual, they put on a really fun set. Speaking of fun sets, My Parents’ Favorite Music is not a band I’m super familiar with, but I really loved their set. I think I was probably influenced by meeting and making friends with Steffo. I need to check out more of their stuff.
Wrapping up the nerdcore side of things (see what I did there? “Rapping” up… Yeah, anyway…), Schäffer the Darklord was just amazing. He’s probably the best showman around. He opened with the opening from Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” Let’s see… dresses in black and purple, great showman… Yup, that fits! The set included mostly new material from Sick Passenger, but with enough older stuff to please everyone (sadly no “Cat People,” but still a great set).
Moving into the nerdy rock portion of the weekend, we had the Protomen and Sci-Fried. It was weird to have the Protomen playing so early in the day, but this year I got into the crowd rather than watching from the back. What a huge difference! Even though I don’t really know the lyrics, it was really cool to pick up on the energy of the audience. I’m pretty sure that if Protomen decided to start a cult à la Pink Floyd’s The Wall, they’d have no trouble doing so. Of course the energy during Sci-Fried’s set was also palpable. It would’ve been great to see more collaborations from Co-Op Mode, but they did get in “New Challenger” with King Pheenix. I believe they were also the only band to acknowledge the tradition of artists playing covers at Nerdapalooza when they played Blue Öyster Cult’s “Godzilla” (complete with KSV in Godzilla costume). Apparently it will also appear on their upcoming album.
And last, but certainly not least, on the perennial favorites list would be Marc with a C. This year, Marc performed with a full band and electric guitar (The Expansion Pack; link is for someone else’s video who got the whole set), the first time they’d played together in public. I love that they opened with “Popular Music” going into “The Proper Amount of Snare,” the openers from this year’s best album (yes, it’s still at number one, just as I suspected it would be) Popular Music. In fact, most songs were from the new album, which was perfectly cool with me. At one point, he asked the audience to yell out what song we wanted to hear, so of course we all yelled, “Free Bird,” which he then proceeded to play (his version, of course, not the one by that other band that no one actually likes. Well, not me anyway). He did manage to squeeze in a couple of songs from previous albums, including “Nerdy Girls” and “Love My Little Squiddy.” I really liked the band, and I’m curious to see what happens with them in the future.