Nerdapalooza Links

July 4th–5th brings us Nerdapalooza Southeast 2008 in Orlando (details here). I’ll not be able to make it to the event myself, but I thought it warranted a mention here.

First, some notes on the event itself: Nerdapalooza is a gathering of bands featuring geek rock, wizard rock, game music, nerdcore hip-hop, and other acts along these lines. Z. explains on the Wired Geekdads blog: “Boasting a roster of more than 30 bands, the event is uniquely positioned to bridge the (sub)cultural gap that exists between various forms of geek music.” Moreover, proceeds go to Child’s Play, a charity started by Penny Arcade which puts games and toys into children’s hospitals.

Speaking of Z., I would next like to draw your attention to the “Nerdapalooza Bound” episode of the Radio Free Hipster podcast. It features a number of bands who will be at the event, and guest commentary by organizers. I let Z.’s podcasts keep me company the other day during a nine-hour train ride, and I thought that this one offered a particularly nice scope of the range of interests and attitudes we think of as “geek culture.” This array includes a song about lecherous pirates, a song about preferring nerdy ladies over more mainstream hotties, a song about whiney, depressed fifteen-year-olds on Livejournal, and various expressions of general playfulness and zaniness, among others. The commentary by Hex and mCRT (which name-checks Weird Al as an early influence in developing taste in geek music) also offers a quick glimpse at how this whole phenomenon of geek music has been developing. Next time I talk to someone who seems confused by the idea that ‘geek’ could be anything but an insult, I may just point them to this podcast.

And finally, to close, I’d like to link to Nerdapaloozers, a series of comics by Anthony of Game Music 4 All. As a sort of promotion or bonus celebration of Nerdapalooza, Anthony has replaced the captions from a bunch of old transformers comics with stuff referencing geeky musicians and members of the community at large. I sort of think of this as the Fenslerfilm G.I. Joe of the geek music world.

Culture, Community, and Nerdy Music

Church emailed me yesterday (at Matt S.‘s prompting, I think) to invite me to check out an interesting conversation. The whole thread started with Z.’s year-end wrap-up post at Hipster, Please!, which reflected on how the nerdcore hip-hop scene has long seemed less community-oriented than the wizard rock scene. Nerdcore artists seemed to move past that in 2007 to help a fellow artist in need, leading Z. to conclude that for him, 2007 “will be remembered as the year we came together, if only for a minute and if only under the worst of circumstances.”

The conversation that followed the post, however, was mostly concerned with why nerdcore hasn’t had that sense of community more often, or in a more sustained fashion. Noting that the post was getting so many comments that it looked like a forum, participants moved over to the Game Music 4 All forum to continue. The conversation touches upon a number of related points, such as what “nerdcore” really means, what binds the various interests related to nerdcore, and whether nerdcore and wizard rock are better approached as genres, scenes, or movements. It’s very interesting reading, and I encourage you to go check out the whole thread yourself.

Continue reading “Culture, Community, and Nerdy Music”

Links: From Closet Geeks to Sexiest Geeks Alive

Christmas was typically geeky (for me) in the Tocci household this year, netting one Mario brothers t-shirt, two comics, four Xbox 360 games, one PS2 game, one DS game, and the new They Might Be Giants album. I also had the opportunity to introduce my girlfriend’s family to the Guitar Hero series, graciously lent by my brother Stephen. Now I am turning my attention back to papers, the dissertation, and taking stock of the links I’ve gathered to clutter up my browser lately.

Continue reading “Links: From Closet Geeks to Sexiest Geeks Alive”

There’s Nothing Wrong With Pretending to Rock

Something I find ceaselessly fascinating and baffling is the way that video games get criticized no matter what their content. If a game features violent activity that we could never (and, hopefully, would never) enact in real life, it gets criticized for encouraging real-life violence. If a game features non-violent activity that might even be considered worthwhile in real life, it gets criticized for discouraging real-life action. I’ve written a bit about the former here already, so I figure I might as well take a brief moment to comment on the latter, exemplified in criticism of Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

Continue reading “There’s Nothing Wrong With Pretending to Rock”

Links Thanks to the Worldwide Nerdy News Network

I’d like to direct your attention to a video of the Cal marching band performing video game music (also linked to and called nerdy here and here). I got tips for this from Jordan (friend from middle/high school), Matt L. (friend from Annenberg), CarrieLynn (friend from Comic Con), and Julien (friend from Paris). I’m often very hesitant to tell people, “Thanks, I already saw that,” because I really appreciate when people send me stuff, and I want them to feel encouraged to do so. And actually, getting multiple people telling me about the same link is a rough indication of how widely circulated a thing is around the web, which is pretty interesting to see in itself.

Anyway, as long as we’re talking links, here’s a couple from Dan (another friend from middle/high school). First, Barack Obama in front of a Superman statue in Metropolis, IL (which we visited on our cross-country trip). Dan wasn’t sending it for the article so much as the photo, but it’s worth noting that Obama has begun to “network with the nerds,” as Gizmodo’s Benny Goldman writes of the candidate’s outspoken stance on technology. And finally, Dan also sends a geek alphabet. I got most (but not all) of the references, and was shocked I remembered what a “glitter boy” was (which I know thanks to Evan, another middle/high school friend, with whom I am staying in Chicago right now).

If You Build It, They Will Wrock

I once lamented here that I had no idea how to keep track of geek music shows. Well, I’ve got some new heroes. Church emails me to announce, by Matt S.

The site’s welcome post explains:

SSS is a listing of geek music concerts from all over the world. By clicking the Calendar link, either in the heading or over on the side bar, you’ll see all the listings that we currently have for geeky shows in the near future. The pickings are a little thin at the moment since I’ve primarily been focused on getting the overall site up and running. Over the next couple of weeks though, I plan to continue to flesh out tour dates for other artists.

The longer answer is that SSS is a site dedicated to promoting geek culture as a separate and distinct entity equal to the Mainstream and Underground cultures that dominate our world. Geek culture is not a new idea, but it has gained in popularity over the last several years and it is now time for it to get the recognition that it deserves. While the site is currently focused on only concerts and musical gatherings, my goal is to expand it to include listings for all kinds of various geek gatherings.

Church notes that the site will be covering a variety of genres including nerdcore, chiptunes, VGM (video game music), and Wrock (that’s Wizard Rock, or Harry Potter tributes for the uninitiated). If you’re interested in helping out on the project, they’re looking for it, so go take a gander.

In the long term, I’ll be interested to see where this goes insofar as the geek culture manifesto is concerned, which makes a pretty clear statement about insiders vs. outsiders and “the Geek Community’s” resistance to co-optation. In the meantime, I’m just so thankful that I can finally find some concerts.