Video game music for metalheads - Baltimore


Jul. 28, 2016 12:35 pm

Video game music for metalheads

The “Mega Man” theme song is cool. But [explosion sound] thinks it's cooler as a metal song. The band will be at the BitGen Gamer Fest this weekend.
Scenes from BitGen past.

Scenes from BitGen past.

(Photo courtesy of BitGen Gamer Fest)

Early video game music. Nintendo, 1980s. It may seem pretty simplistic. But underneath those MIDI keyboards, Tyler Merchant recognizes intricate harmonies.

And he unearths them with metal.

“When you play those songs as metal songs, you get to give them that depth they were lacking originally,” said Merchant, the bassist for the band [explosion sound], who invites you to make an explosion sound when saying their name. The band doesn’t play video game songs note-for-note, but their music sounds like it could be in a game.

At an [explosion sound] set. (Photo courtesy of BitGen Gamer Fest)

(Photo courtesy of BitGen Gamer Fest)

Using video game music as a jumping off point is the common thread for the bands at BitGen Gamer Fest, which is set to be held July 30 at Ottobar. The 11th edition of the event is back at the Remington club after last year’s appearance at University of Baltimore during Artscape, and previous years at Rams Head Live and since-closed Sonar and Bourbon Street.

See the BitGen schedule

Merchant, who is an organizer of BitGen as well as the annual MAGFest, said the group is looking forward to the intimacy and grittiness that a rock club provides. Metal has always found a natural habitat at Ottobar. And when Canadian band Tupperware Remix Party takes the stage, a dance party is likely to ensue.


“In this club environment, they’re going to bring the house down,” Merchant said.

Bands from Philly, Richmond and Tennessee are also making the trip for BitGen.

“As far as VGM

is a scene, Baltimore and D.C. are kind of the hub,” Merchant said.

Since the event is likely to attract plenty of gamers, video games of the current and classic variety are also provided at the event. The ability to take an active role in what’s happening on the screen draws many of them in. For the musicians on the stage, taking a key part of those games and creating something new offers another level of immersion.

“It makes you feel like you’re a part of that thing which you love so much,” Merchant said.


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