Chipmusic • Live Events

Low Bit Playground 12.0 – Tokyo, April 18th – pt2

This is the second and final part of our coverage of Lo-Bit playground 12.0. Part 1 can be found here.

20:00 – Tanikugu

lbpg_tokyo_20090418_nacky

LBPG is incredibly well organized, all acts have their equipment laid out and ready to go before the doors open. Tanikugu’s rig was by far the most interesting. They had no less than 4 Midines carts plugged into 4 AV Famicoms with 4 bridge adapters hooked up to 2 laptops. Unfortunately they had difficulties with one of the Midines units from the outset. The set was fairly minimal, mid paced, perfectly competent Famicom techno but I felt they didn’t really get their feet under them due to the technical problems. Watch this space though, who knows what Tanikugu could evolve into.

20:30 – Quarta330

lbpg_tokyo_20090418_quarta330This was a bit of a surprise for me. Previously when I have seen Quarta330 vids, he has been a solo act but this time he took the stage with a pair of highly talented freestyle MCs. The musical side of the set was minimal Gameboy driven dub bass and percussion, very tight and groovy. One MC had a fairly wet vocoded signal through a KP3 other had clean vocals. They traded back and forth for the whole set, freestyling lyrics that were rhythmic, weird, catchy and funny. I don’t know where Quarta 330 and crew plan to go with this unit but I would really love to see a release or two. The crowd loved it, the highlight of the set was one of the MC’s managing to screw up in time to the music, recover without missing a beat and carry the whole thing off with a big cheesy grin. I chatted with the MCs a little after the set, one goes by the name Hard GU.W-C.I and the other (to the very best of my knowledge this is his partners name) Kuttserikai Tokyo. The tracks on their Myspace accounts are good but live and backed by Quarta 330 they really shone.

21:00 – Hally

lbpg_tokyo_20090418_hally

During Quarta330’s set Hally was crouched in the corner of the stage, duct taping his custom Famicom carts into his AV Famicoms. He didn’t really seem that happy with the result but at 9pm he ducked down out of view for a couple of seconds and reappeared with trademark red jacket and suspicious sunglasses and flashing battery powered T-shirt. This combined with his intro music got the biggest reaction so far that night. For anyone who hasn’t seen Hally live, this might sound like hyperbole but I think he is the closest thing we have to a Chipmusic superstar, the dude just owns the stage. Unfortunately his equipment didn’t seem to agree. His famicom crashed about 5 minutes into his set and it took him another 5 to coax it back to life. He recovered absolutely brilliantly with a short cover of “Everybody in the Place” by the Prodigy and then broke out the vocoder and went into his epic Gradius mashup causing the crowd to go berserk. Towards the end he whipped out a first generation GBA and started jamming along to his famicoms, I was really curious what the software was but I didn’t get a chance to ask him. A second equipment crash didn’t stop him delivering what was for me, the best performance of the night.

21:30 – Utabi

lbpg_tokyo_20090418_utabihally

I have to confess, I hadn’t heard of Utabi before LBPG 12.0 so this was the biggest surprise of the evening for me. Utabi’s set began seconds after Hally finished. Utabi set up is a Laptop with a controller and played glitchy music based around short, incredibly infectious loops. He uses a lot of vocal samples cut up to the point of being abstract. His music is pretty hard to describe without sounding cliche, its really original, very catchy and unique. Hally spent the first few minutes of Utabi’s set dancing at the side of the stage, I assumed he was spectating but about 5 minutes into the set he picked up his vocoded mic and started MCing (really really well) over Utabi’s beats. It seemed like a really bad day for equipment, Utabi’s soundcard (I think) died. He bounced back like a pro, swiching to a slower more grinding tune but he continued to have intermittent problems. A few minutes later Utabi handed Hally a Wiimote MIDI controller which produced a sound somewhere between a TB-303 and a traumatised cat (no it really did) Hally wielded it like a lightsaber for the rest of the set, swinging at anyone who got close to him. The two of them really did mesh well together on stage, fingers crossed for a collaboration? Apparently this was Utabi’s first gig in quite some time but it didn’t show for a second. I sincerely hope it won’t be his last. I scoured the internet as soon as I got home and ordered the only release of his I could find, Manchurian Candy.

22:00 – Wrap up

At the end of the night, Hally took the mic and thanked everyone for coming and mentioned both Chibi-Tech and USK were in attendance. The buzz seems to indicate they may appear at LBPG 13.0.

Technical problems aside this was an absolutely wonderful gig. The venue is big enough for a nice little crowd but small enough to feel exclusive and hip. Everyone was friendly and both the audience and the performers had an absolute blast. Anyone planning a trip out Tokyo way should strongly consider scheduling their flights on either side of a LBPG event.

Thanks very much to the organizers and the musicians.

Lo-Bit playground
The Hunters
Saitone
Nacky
Tanikugu
Quarta330
Hally
Utabi

For the very brave, I shot some Youtube footage but the quality is far from perfect.

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