8Static Festival 2015: Have an 8-Bit Weekend at First Unitarian Church Oct. 15-17

Featured Image by Chloe via Flickr

8staticPoster courtesy of the event

Last night, the 2015 installment of 8Static Festival kicked off at First Unitarian Church, an awesome opening night of a great local festival at one of Philly’s best D.I.Y. show venues. One of last night’s big events was Philly native son and everyone’s favorite TeacherRapperHero, Mega Ran, rocking the stage fresh off the release of his incredible new album RNDM.

For those not familiar with 8static, curator Emily Feder explains the festival:

8static Festival is a three-day musical and visual event that showcases the talent and diversity within the a live scene that is comprised of what is described as chip music/chiptune/low-bit/lo-fi/synthwave and any other forms of art that share a similar aesthetic. The common denominator being that all these forms of music share factors that impose limitations on the compositions. Some examples are using hacked or modded video game consoles like Game Boys, vintage electronic gear or old forms of computer music composition software. Some people find that imposing these limits can improve creativity. [I]t also means that the gear people are using to make art is cheaper than traditional instruments which opens the door for more people to become involved and welcomes diversity. A lot of us like to say it’s like the punk rock form of electronic music. But it isn’t its own genre, just a platform; any genre of music can be a part of this scene. There is also a symbiotic visual element that is crucial to these performances. These visuals are performed live, just like the music and a similar aesthetic applies. Someone may have glitched visuals coming from an NES or recursive feedback via an old analog video mixer. Without these visualists, the shows would not be the same. Much of this music is distributed digitally, but many of these artists put on impressive live shows that can’t really be experienced any other way.

Before the festival began, 8static had been doing smaller events, which eventually morphed into this festival. Emily explains:

Back in 2012, we had been doing a monthly show for nearly four years…For our fourth anniversary we wanted to put together something special. We asked many of our past guests to come out and play a song as part of this celebration to complement the main event. This led to thirty performers playing all in one night–an amazing experience! The next logical step was to have thirty full sets for our fifth anniversary the following year. There had been other music festivals around the world in a similar vein at the time, but we felt the scene we were building in Philadelphia was special enough to share on a larger scale. That is how the first 8static festival was born.

1013217_730907216928199_1185957875_nPhoto of ovenrake courtesy of Ben Mason

Another highlight of last night’s opening night festivities was ovenrake. Emily describes ovenrake as one of the lesser-known acts that stood out to her in this year’s lineup:

He is local to Philadelphia now and will be performing a dance heavy set. Expect hip-hop, funk, heavy grooves, and electronica. He is just one guy, but he will have the audience fully engaged.

Chances are that many of you reading this missed the first night. Lucky for us all, ovenrake plays the fest again on Saturday, October 17th. There’s also a ton more in store for tonight and Saturday. One big name standout is Sweden’s Random, a well-known DJ in the scene.

Another one of the lesser-known acts that Emily endorses is Marshall Art:

Marshall Art are new the fest this year. They are a duo comprised of two men, one from Newfoundland and the other from Moscow, Russia. They’ve been working on music together from across the world and usually only meet once per year. Their sound is rich and textured, with layered instrumentation that builds to heavy climaxes, much like post rock. The electronic element is complemented well by guitar accompaniment. The interesting thing is that these guys were heavily inspired by Chromelodeon, a local progressive-rock, psychedelic band that help pioneer music that is played at events like 8static. They played their final show in 2006, on the same stage at the First Unitarian Church here in Philly that Marshall Art will be playing Friday night.

Any artist who draws inspiration from Chromelodeon gets my seal of approval. Every set I ever saw those guys perform was great, whether as themselves or as their alter egos Sprite Slowdown. Interestingly, Emily’s enthusiasm in what makes the festival great is explained through Marshall Art and the aforementioned ovenrake.

These two performers couldn’t be farther apart, both culturally and stylistically and that’s what makes the artists at our show so amazing: the lack of overlap and ability to be exciting and interesting in so many different ways.

Festival goers can hit up the remaining two nights or just head over for whichever works for them, both have a lot to offer. If the discussion above isn’t enough to show you what to expect, Emily expands:

Expect a great time! A place that welcomes diversity and offers a safe environment to enjoy yourself and experience unique and interesting forms of creativity. They will experience many surprises but also feel some nostalgia for the sounds many of these vintage tools produce as something new is created from something that is considered outdated by traditional music standards. Ultimately, we hope they will be inspired and be playing one of our future shows.

Get tickets for the remaining days of 8static here. Will you be hitting up this awesome, genre-crossing festival? Tell us in the comments below!

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