This Weekend: The Music of PAX

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone unable to hum or whistle the Super Mario Brothers theme song. Rhythm-based games like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero have been incredibly successful in creating an interactive experience enjoyed by both music and video game lovers alike. Full orchestras performing the epic scores of The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy have toured to sold out audiences in massive concert halls around the globe. Music created for, and inspired by, video games has become as varied and interesting as any other genre. In fact, the Grammy Awards has added video games in their category of “visual media,” meaning music created for games will be considered alongside that of soundtracks for existing visual media formats, like movies and TV. Video game music has come a long way since the primitive synthesizer beeps and boops of the Commodore 64.

Enter PAX Prime: a three-day game festival for tabletop, video game, and PC gamers in Seattle this weekend. While other game-related conventions are for gaming press and industry, PAX is for gaming fans. In addition to various gaming tournaments, they’ve got panel discussions, an exhibition hall filled with booths displaying the latest from top game publishers and developers, and several concerts. The musical guests are as are eclectic as the rest of PAX’s programming. Here are a few bands and artists that I’m most excited about catching this weekend:

Supercommutor // Best described as an 8-bit sci-fi hip-hop trio, and based right here in Seattle, Supercommutor is a project featuring Wheelie Cyberman (Optimus Rhyme), Stenobot, and Tron Juan. In addition to the lyrical and production prowess of the already mentioned, their new record Products of Science also features vocal contributions from Jen Wood (The Postal Service) and Rachel Haden (That Dog, The Rentals). Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of all Supercommuter music and merchandise goes to Child’s Play, a fantastic charity that brings together gamers to donate toys, games, books, and cash for sick kids in children’s hospitals across North America and the world.

Minibosses // Based in Phoenix, Minibosses are an instrumental rock band who have gained a large following amongst video games music fans, whom refer to themselves as “Minibossies”, for their variations of the theme music from classic Nintendo games like Mega Man and Castlevania. Conceptualized in the late 1990’s, and officially formed in January 2000, Minibosses (one of the first bands to be dubbed “Nintendocore”) has scheduled the release of their next album, Brass 2: Mouth, for December 2011. In the meantime, you can download a selection of MP3s from their website for free.

VGO // Founded by a Berklee College of Music alumni Shota Nakama, VGO is an orchestra that performs contemporary arrangements of video game music. As the first and only New England based orchestra that focuses on showcasing interactive media compositions, VGO is dedicated to providing access and raise awareness of orchestral video game-related compositions. Comprised of a chamber orchestra, a 5-piece rock band, and a choir, the regional and international award-winning musicians come from over 20 countries. The diverse cultural backgrounds of the performers contributes to the unique sonic signature of VGO.

Metroid Metal // East Coast band Metroid Metal celebrates the mysterious and hypnotic melodies from Nintendo’s classic game series Metroid by shredding it into a million pieces with high-energy heavy metal arrangements. Need I say more?

More on PAX, including all panels, programming, and musical guests, here.

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